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May E-Tips: Your Home's Electrical System


graphic about electrical safety


Do you notice frequent dimming lights, tripped breakers, warm-to-the-touch light switches, discolored or loose outlets in your home? It may be time for an upgrade or some repairs!


Your home's electrical system is utilized constantly and should be cared for. If you experience issues or it has been decades since the last time an electrician inspected the system, give your home's electrical system some attention.



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Your Home's Electrical System

To help prevent injury and illness there are things we know we have to do to care for ourselves -- especially as we get older. Our homes also have to be maintained to stay in good shape, and an important part of that maintenance includes a home’s electrical system.


Older homes are more likely to have an electrical fire than newer homes. An electrical system’s insulation can eventually wear out from a variety of factors including age, animal gnawing, and overloaded circuits. Also, older homes were not designed for today’s electronics and appliances. Increased electrical demands can have an impact on the household wiring in older homes. If you have an older home, you may find that you need an upgraded electric service.

To check on the status of your home’s electrical system, contact a qualified electrician to perform an electrical inspection of your home. After an official inspection takes place, the inspector should label your home's electric panel with a dated seal. The U.S. Consumer Product and Safety Commission suggests an electrical inspection if the last electrical inspection of your home was 10 or more years ago.

Learn more about electrical safety from

The Electrical Safety Foundation International -

Preventing Electrical Fires

Be aware of the signs of electrical wiring problems and take some steps to help prevent electrical fires by identifying possible safety problems before they occur.


  • Electrical outlets – Check for loose-fitting plugs and loose wall receptacles. Replace missing or broken wall plates. If you have young children, install tamper resistant outlets (TROs). Avoid overloading outlets.


  • Electrical wiring – If an outlet is not working, it may be an indicator of unsafe wiring. Check for loose wires and loose light fixtures. Listen for popping or sizzling sounds behind walls. If light switches are hot to the touch or lights spark and flicker, immediately shut them off at the circuit breaker and have repaired.


  • Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) – Make sure GFCIs are installed in your kitchen, bathrooms, laundry, workshop, basement, garage, and outdoor outlets. GFCIs help protect against electrical shock.


  • Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) – Consider having AFCIs installed in your home. If the AFCI detects any abnormality, it will shut the system off, preventing a fire.


  • Plugs – Do not remove the grounding pin (third prong) to make a plug fit a two-conductor outlet.


  • Cords – Make sure cords are not frayed or cracked, placed under rugs, tightly wrapped around any object, or located in high traffic areas. Do not nail or staple them to walls, floors, or other objects.


  • Extension cords – These are not intended as permanent household wiring, so use them on a temporary basis only











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