5 Common Electrical Issues You Can Prevent

7 October, 2020
5 common electrical issues you can prevent

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are staying at home and continue to work remotely. Factor in the number of kids and young people opting for online learning, and that means more people are using laptops, tablets, and cell phones in every household.

With the increased use of technological gadgets comes the overuse of battery chargers plugged into multiple electric circuits in the house. Along with our laptops and tablets, regular electrical items such as desk lights, TVs, and home appliances are also being used.

With all this electrical usage happening at home, seasonal electrical issues could arise if you’re not careful. At Hi-Lite Electric, all of our electricians are certified under the Electrical Safety Authority’s (ESA) Authorized Contractor Program (ACP). This means our expertise is to detect seasonal electrical issues and help solve them efficiently and safely. Let’s take a closer look at 5 common electrical issues you can prevent at home.

1. Outdated electrical outlets

The majority of seasonal electrical issues are caused by ageing electrical outlets. The wiring behind light switches and electrical outlets gets older, and, over time, they loosen and can break out in a fire if they are overused.

In most instances, older electrical outlets can spark and cause a fire when you plug in worn-out appliances that are not energy efficient. The older the appliance, the more they pose a risk because they require a lot of power, and ageing electrical outlets are not strong enough to handle their demand for electricity, thus igniting a surge or fire.

To prevent electrical fires caused by old electrical outlets:

  • Evaluate every electrical outlet in your house and replace them as soon as you notice they are getting worn out.
  • Tighten the wire nuts to improve their power or, if they are old, replace the whole outlet with a new one.

2. Overloading electrical circuits with extension cords

When laptops, TVs, home theatres, and other appliances are plugged into one extension cord, it overloads the single electrical socket, causing a serious risk of an electrical fire. Therefore, it is very important to reduce plugging in multiple items into one outlet.

Moreover, if the extension cords are old or kinked, the items that are plugged in will produce more heat and can melt the insulation of the cord, causing it to burst into flames. If you are plugging in multiple items into a few extension cords, here’s how you can prevent electrical fires:

  • Check each extension cord and make a conscious effort not to overload electrical outlets. Unplug items overnight and replug them when needed.
  • Moreover, if you have limited electrical outlets and have to use extension cords, opt for heavy-duty extension cords because they last longer than the cheaper versions.
  • Be sure that extension cords are not placed under rugs or where people can step on them.
  • Use extension cords temporarily and, if possible, plug in items directly into the electrical units.
  • If you don’t have enough outlets in your home and have several items that need to be plugged in regularly, call a professional electrician to install new outlets to keep your home and family safe.

3. Overuse of old appliances​

Old appliances are often overlooked because you use them so much that they become part of your routine, and you forget to replace them after a few years. The more you use such appliances, the more susceptible they are too high flammability due to the ageing insulation in each item. Here’s how you can prevent electrical fires from common appliances:

  • Pay attention to the age of your most frequently used appliances such as hair dryers, toasters, and alarm clocks and replace them after a year or when they start wearing out.
  • If an appliance starts operating improperly, don’t wait until it breaks down; replace it immediately.
  • Replace common appliances with upgraded versions made with quality materials that follow approved safety standards.
  • Call an electrician to install appliance-grade outlets, which are built with ground fault circuit interrupters and can prevent surges to keep your house free of fires.

4. Light fixtures

Installing light bulbs in light fixtures such as table and desk lamps with the wrong wattage is a common cause of electrical fires. For instance, some desk lamps only take 60 watt light bulbs. By inserting 100-watt bulbs, you run the risk of electrical issues. If you use various light fixtures throughout your home, here’s what you can do to prevent seasonal electrical problems:

  • Follow the maximum recommended bulb wattage for every desk lamp, decor lamp, and light fixture. Never go past the maximum wattage.
  • Ensure that materials such as curtains, textiles, and bedding are not placed on or near lamps. These materials can heat up and start a fire.
  • Double-check that all lighting devices are not plugged into extension cords. Too many table and desk lamps can overload the extension cord.

5. Portable heaters

In the wintertime, if you use a portable heater in certain areas of the house, be conscious of where you place them. Here are some tips on how to use them safely:

  • Never leave a portable heater on for an extended period, especially when no one is home or if you’re sleeping. Get a portable heater that has an automatic shut-off feature.
  • Do not place portable heaters next to beds, curtains, sofas, and rugs; this can start a fire. Opt for the middle of the room or a corner with a clear space.
  • Use radiator-type portable heaters over fan space heaters because they are less likely to ignite flammable items.
  • With portable heaters, we do not recommend plugging them into extension cords. Plug them directly into an electrical unit to prevent overheating.

If you would like a free quote on our upgraded services for electrical installation, our professional electricians at Hi-Lite Electric are here to assist you with preventing seasonal electrical issues in Toronto and the GTA region. Call us in Toronto at 416-800-5523, in York Region at 289-207-0324, and in Peel Region at 289-216-0548, or contact us here.

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