The calendar has flipped into October and that means the holidays are nearly upon us. Before you can blink your eyes, Halloween will be here with Thanksgiving riding on its tail. After that will come Christmas and New Year’s Day and before you know it months will have passed in what feels like nothing at all. But in that time your home could experience a number of different issues, particularly with some of your most important systems. This includes your electrical system, which will receive quite the workout over the next several months of the year.
As now is the best time to start preparing your home for the holidays, it’s important to take some time to check over your electrical system and make sure that it’s safe for use throughout the winter months. A faulty or damaged electrical system will only present even more of a hazard as you come to depend on your electricity more and more with shorter days, colder nights, and holiday decorations that depend on electricity to operate.
Here is a short safety checklist you can follow, as well as a few common problems you may see and what to do about them.
Let’s start with an easy one: your ceiling fans. By now you’ve probably shut your air conditioner down for the winter and will likely be flipping over to your heater sometime soon. However, warm air naturally rises, and that means the warmth may get stuck near your ceiling. That’s not a problem in rooms with ceiling fans—they can also pump air upward, cycling the warm air back down and giving you a much more even heat throughout the room they’re in.
Start by cleaning the blades on your ceiling fan, either with a specialized duster or a damp rag. Removing dust is important here, as what has collected may become dislodged when you first turn your fan on again. While you’re at it, flip the small switch on the side of your fan’s motor. This will reverse the motor direction on your fan, which pushes air upward rather than pulls it down. Once you’ve done this and are no longer standing up near the moving fan, turn it on and listen to the motor—if the motor is making any loud buzzing, grinding, or pulsing sounds, call an electrician to have it repaired.
The next thing to check is the important outlets in your home, specifically ones which will see a lot of extra use over the next few months. Start with the outlets in areas like your bathrooms and kitchen, where water may be present. Find the GFCI outlet (the one with two small buttons labeled “test” and “reset”) and press the “test” button. The reset button should pop out immediately, and anything plugged into the outlet should stop working. As long as this is the case, press the “reset” button and the outlet should turn on again. However, if your GFCI doesn’t trip, or if your outlet in these areas doesn’t have a GFCI on it, then call right away to have your outlet replaced with a modern GFCI-equipped outlet. Safety is incredibly important when working around water, and these outlets could save your life in the event of stray current.
Next, find your electrical panel, which is either located somewhere in a bedroom in your home or possibly outside on an exterior wall. The first thing you should do is conduct a visual inspection. If you notice any signs of rust, fading, cracking, or excessive wear and tear, there’s a good chance your panel is being exposed to the elements, and that could make it dangerous to continue to operate. If no signs of wear are present, then test your circuit breakers. They should all turn off and on easily, and stay on indefinitely when turned on. However, if one in particular shuts off after being turned on, then you could have a short in that particular circuit, or another potential problem that could be dangerous to your home. Contact an electrician to have your panel inspected and the flaw repaired right away.
Outdoor Electrical Equipment
Finally, you’ll want to check over your outdoor electrical equipment to make sure it’s in good condition. Winter can bring precipitation, colder temperatures, and some other nasty weather issues which could affect your electrical if it’s not properly protected. First, check your outdoor outlets and make sure they have proper bubble style covers on them. While insulated socket covers were popular for some time, bubble covers are now the recommended standard because they can be safely used while the cover remains shut. This makes them ideal for use with things like holiday lights or other decorations, which may be operated in inclement weather line rain. If your outlets are not covered with one of these bubble covers, you can find them at your local home improvement warehouse for a minimal investment, and installation is extremely simple with nothing more than basic hand tools like a screwdriver.
For a complete electrical inspection or comprehensive repair and upkeep services for your electrical equipment, call the team at All Pro Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electrical at (909) 253-0664 today.