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The Home Depot

How to Troubleshoot Common Electrical Problems

Pro Referral > Home Guides > Electrical > How to Troubleshoot Common Electrical Problems
How to Troubleshoot Common Electrical Problems

If there is any one issue for which you should definitely find professional to help you solve, it’s electrical problems. You might be able to get down under your sink to patch a leaky pipe, or fix up a hole in your drywall, but go too far down the wrong road when trying to fix a problem with your home’s wiring and you could end up badly injured or worse.


According to the U.S. Fire Administration, home electrical problems account for 26,100 fires and $1 billion in property losses during a typical year. The group says that about half of all residential electrical fires involve electrical wiring.


Of course, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t know anything related to your home’s electrical wiring, or that all problems you encounter are out of your hands. Check out this guide to help you troubleshoot common electrical problems in your home. And remember – safety first!

  1. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, home electrical problems account for 26,100 fires and $1 billion in property losses a year.

    1.Outlet doesn’t work

    First, check to see if the other outlets nearby are working. If they aren’t, you may have lost power in your whole house. If not, something may have tripped the circuit breaker. Locate your home’s electrical panel (it’s usually in your garage, basement or laundry room) and check to see if a switch is in the “off” position. Once you find it, switch it on. If that doesn’t solve your problem, call in a professional because the problem could be more tricky – and more dangerous - to fix.

  2. 2.Circuit breaker keeps tripping

    Your circuit breaker could be overloaded. Without them, the circuits and wires could overheat and a fire could start. Try turning off some appliances in your home and see if the problem remains. To avoid this problem, don’t plug a lot of appliances into one outlet. Also, turn off appliances when they aren’t in use. A short circuit could also trip your circuit breaker. A short circuit happens when an electric current takes a shorter or different path than was intended. The way most electrical appliances work, energy flows into them through one wire and out through another. When that path is interrupted, when one of the wires is broken, the wires can get very hot, which can cause a fire. Avoid short circuits by making sure your pets don’t gnaw on them. Replace cords that are cracked and frayed and don’t try to lengthen wires on your own.

  3. 3.Flickering lights

    First, make sure your light bulb is screwed all the way into its socket. You should also check to see if your bulb is the proper wattage for the socket you are using. Using the wrong wattage could cause the bulb to overheat and start a fire. If the bulb is securely in the socket and the right wattage, try another bulb. That will tell you if the bulb was just faulty or old. If there’s nothing wrong with your bulb, the problem could be with your wiring. The problem could be with the cord or with the outlet. To learn about outlet issues, see the items above. For cord issues, see the item below.

  5. 4.Faulty or frayed wires

    It’s so important to make sure your electrical appliances’ wires are in good working order. Failure to do so could compromise your safety. Check your cord for breaks or fraying. Look for brown spots and see if anything smells burned, because that could indicate a short circuit. It’s best to have a professional handle a cord or wire repair. They have the experience and know-how to get the job done right and without injury.


    The refrain when it comes to any electrical problem should be “when in doubt, ask for help.” Save yourself headache, potential fire damage and personal injury by consulting a trusted contractor when your home’s electrical wiring goes awry.

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