When to Call an Electrician? Here are 15 Signs to Watch
When to call an electrician? Sydney homes and businesses need professional electrical services whether for simple repairs or whole house electrical installations. This is to ensure proper work and safety during each job.
In this article, we’ll enumerate first the 15 signs when to call an electrical technician. Then, we’ll discuss the details and more importantly, some of the safety precautions for each assignment. Let’s start.
When to call a pro
Here are the most common signs and reasons why you should contact a professional electrician to do the job:
- Flickering lights
- Installing new lighting
- Replacing busted lighting
- Frayed wiring
- Damaged outlets
- Burning smells near outlets
- Install additional outlets
- Installing new appliances
- Rewiring of your home or business
- Whole house electrical installation
- New electrical installs when remodelling
- Outdated service panel
- Power interruption due to circuit overload
- Safety inspection for compliance
- Safety inspection when you’re moving into a new home
A few of those mentioned above seem pretty easy and simple. However, there are safety precautions and risks you need to take note.
For example, installing new lighting exposes you or the worker to risks. Even a moment’s contact with electricity at 50 volts (AC) can have a serious health effect to a person. In addition, installing lighting often requires using a ladder. Even a mild shock might cause a person to fall and get serious physical injuries (fractures or bump to the head).
Professional electricians are aware of these risks, which is why they observe safety precautions before, during and after the installation of lighting and wiring. They also minimise the risks because they’re using their own sturdy ladders and proper gear and equipment.
The dangers of DIY
The Do-It-Yourself approach is good. But it’s not really great if we’re talking about safety. Yes, you may find exact tips (and watch videos) on how to properly and safely do something. However, the risks will still be there.
Also, professionals have undergone hundreds of hours of training and apprenticeship before handling an on-site job. This is no substitute for a few minutes of reading or watching tutorial videos online. There’s a huge difference, and of course, it’s your safety at stake here.
Moreover, pros use specialised tools and the proper materials for each job. They’re updated with the latest electrical code and safety regulations. They go beyond ensuring safety. They also ensure you won’t experience the same electrical issue anytime soon.
Safety in installing new lighting
Installing lights usually require elevated work platforms. Whether it’s lighting for a bedroom or outdoor (security and peace of mind), working in an elevated area has safety risks (aside from the electrocution itself).
In addition, lighting now comes in a wide variety of designs and purposes. There are now accent lights and pendant lighting. Also, if you need to illuminate an area (no lights were installed before) or a new room or office was constructed, you need new wiring for the lights to work.
It seems a simple job, but there are still risks which professional electricians eliminate. Even if it’s just replacing a busted lighting, they still observe safety precautions every step of the way.
Many Sydney offices, retail stores, restaurants and other commercial facilities don’t have an in-house electrician yet. After all, many of the electrical jobs, including replacing lights, are not that frequent. However, it’s still recommended to have a professional do the job (not just any of your office staff).
Flickering lights also require a professional’s attention and action. Some people think that those lights just need a replacement. However, the problem might be more serious because the wiring or the whole electrical system could be compromised.
Flickering lights can mean there’s an unstable electrical flow or faulty wiring. The electricity can’t flow properly and continuously, which is why you see the flicker. It might also occur whenever you turn on an appliance or your computer. Your existing wiring or system can’t properly accommodate the sudden surge.
A professional electrician can do further inspection to figure out the problem. He can then install new wiring, create new connections or just repair the faulty wiring if there are present. Aside from getting to the root of the problem, he will also help in ensuring the safety of your family and property.
Safety in replacing frayed wiring
Frayed wiring is often a result of natural deterioration or gnawing of rodents (or your pet). This presents serious dangers to you, your family, your pet and your property. Frayed wiring can cause instant electrocution and fire hazards if neglected.
As mentioned earlier, even a moment’s contact with low voltage current can lead to a disaster. Aside from the electrocution, the possible tripping, bumping or falling can be more serious. This is quite insidious because frayed wiring can be unnoticeable.
What should you do then? Some people still rely on the old DIY approach. They reach out to an electrical tape and patch the damaged areas of electrical cables and wires. This is still risky because one way or another, you have to touch the cable to put on the electrical tape. In addition, this is only a short-term solution. Tapes don’t hold permanently and sooner or later they will expose the wires underneath.
Instead, professional electricians can replace the wiring or cable for a more permanent solution. They will use wiring materials, fittings and connectors that meet modern standards. This is to ensure safety and prevent hazards in your home or office. They can also inspect for other vulnerabilities in your electrical system.
Repairing, replacing and installing outlets
This is one of the most requested jobs by both Sydney homeowners and commercial clients. After all, these are the ones that are in most contact with the environment (users, appliances). Here are the most common issues related to outlets:
- Chipped or cracked outlet
- Switching to a more compatible or modern outlet
- Burnt marks around the “holes”
- Burnt odours whenever plugging or unplugging an appliance
- Sparks whenever you plug in an electrical device
Chips and cracks on the outlet can expose the wiring and metals inside. Someone might accidentally touch the exposed area and result to electrocution. Another common issue is the burnt marks or odours on the outlets which are often the result of brief electrical sparks. This might be due to damaged interiors or the wiring itself is faulty.
Online articles and video tutorials make it sound easy to replace the outlet. Turn off the power flowing to the outlet, unscrew the cover plate, inspect wiring, attach wires, replace it with something new and then you’re done. However, you might still get it wrong even if you carefully followed the tutorial.
The electrical flow might still be turned on (you turned off the wrong switch) or all your efforts will just go to waste. That’s because you’re not even sure of the problem in the first place. The new cover plate and outlet you purchased might not even do anything to solve the real problem.
Another common request from Sydney homeowners is the upgrading of their electrical outlets. Old Sydney homes might still have those 2-prong outlets while the standard now is the 3-prong outlet. Other homeowners request for the installation of ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets in kitchens, bathrooms and other damp areas.
GFCI outlets shut off the outlet’s power when there’s a ground fault or short circuit. This is very useful in preventing electrocution when you have wet feet and you’re using an electrical device such as a hair dryer (although it’s still best to be careful yourself). GFCI outlets are normally more expensive, but it’s worth it if you prioritise safety and peace of mind. Professional electricians can advice where these outlets should be best installed.
Installing new appliances and additional outlets
In your home you might already have over a dozen appliances and other electrical-powered devices such as:
- Air conditioner
- Ceiling fan
- Clothes iron
- Water heater
- Washing machine
- Microwave oven
- Desktop computers
Several of those appliances have huge energy requirements. Also, whenever you turn them on there’s a surge of electricity (which might cause your service panel to switch off due to overloading). The surge might also cause instability which might make the lights flicker or even damage your other appliances.
Many people still rely on extension cords to accommodate the additional appliances. However, this is now discouraged for safety reasons. First, extension cords can cause unstable flow or overloading to an outlet. This could result to electrical sparks or complete failure of your electrical system.
The recommended (and required) solution is to install additional outlets. This way, there’s a dedicated outlet for each appliance. This is ideal especially when you’ll be switching on the appliance regularly. Electrical technicians can install the appliances, outlets and additional wiring necessary.
Full electrical installation
Whether it’s new home construction or a small renovation, a professional electrical installation is required to ensure safety and successful operation. Technicians can install the service panel, all the wiring (for appliances and lighting), outlets and other electrical fixtures.
Many of the worker injuries and fatalities (up to 87%) relate to installing electricals during construction. There are several risks in those scenarios, which is why it’s critical to hire experienced and qualified electricians for the job.
Even during the remodelling of your kitchen or bathroom, professionals should take care of the removal of wiring and new installs. They can safely place the outlets and wiring in strategic areas (where appliances and lighting will be installed). Professionals can also estimate the required amperage for your home or commercial facility. This way, even during peak electrical demands, your appliances will all function normally.
Upgrading the service panel
Often, the reason for service panel upgrade is increasing the amperage. The minimum is usually 100 amp for many Sydney homes. But due to lifestyle changes and modern living, a higher capacity might be recommended.
This also occurs in many commercial facilities wherein they require expansion (more staff members, more customers or more computers and other equipment). In these cases there might be a need for higher amperage.
Most of the time your home’s electricity consumption might stay uniform. However, there are peak demands especially during hot summer days (all air conditioners are turned on) or cold winter nights (your family needs the electrical water heater). You must prepare for these peaks so you can rely on your appliances without any worries and avoid overloading.
Aside from upgrading the service panel for bigger capacity, another reason is replacing the old and outdated panel. It presents fire hazards because of wear and tear or it might not just suffice in handling today’s electrical demands. In addition, outdated panels might not be meeting the modern electrical codes and standards. If you have an old house (built 20 or 30 years ago), it’s recommended to ask for an inspection first and then make the necessary upgrades.
Electrical inspection for safety, reliability and compliance
Exposed wiring, burnt outlets, flickering lights and power failure are obvious signs there’s an electrical issue. However, most of these issues would have been prevented if there’s a regular safety inspection.
Electrical systems and wiring often have serious problems that don’t catch your attention. After all, the wiring and even the switchboards are hidden from view. It’s hard to figure out the real problem if the professionals aren’t looking for it.
To pinpoint the problem and prevent worse issues from occurring, electrical technicians can perform inspection and troubleshooting. They can do the repairs and replacements necessary before defective electricals interrupt your home activities, special gatherings or business operations.
Many businesses request for the electrical safety inspections as part of complying with requirements. The national government and local council need to ensure that there’s minimal safety risk in commercial areas. Fires (due to electrical issues) can spread fast and other businesses and properties nearby might also be damaged as a result.
When to call an electrician in Sydney?
That’s why many business owners now (and even homeowners) request for a safety inspection of their electrical system. It’s the best way to prevent a potentially costly and disastrous problem.
Here at Electrical Detectives, many homeowners and businesses have already requested us to inspect their:
- Lighting fixtures
- Outlets and electrical wiring
- Even smoke alarms and other electrical devices
Our experienced and qualified electricians also do all types of electrical installations, repairs and replacements. Call us today at 02 9709 4744 for all your electrical needs.