Six Must-Do Yearly Activities for Your Home's Electrical System
If you own a home, maintaining your electrical system is a vital part of both insuring the smooth function of your household and protecting its safety. With your home getting older with every year that passes, checking the electrical system annually is a must-do activity. Here are six things you should do at least that often for the integrity of the house and your family's health.
Fuses and Circuit Breakers
Most homes today are equipped with circuit breakers rather than fuses, although the latter do remain in some locations. Either way, if yours are frequently tripped, this means the circuit is overloaded and the electricity was shut off as a protective mechanism. If this is the case in your home, you need to call an electrical contractor, as it may be time to upgrade your wiring or rewire some circuits.
Wires and Cords
Check the wires and cords for all your electrical appliances. This includes the large appliances in your kitchen and laundry room, your entertainment and computer gear, and your small appliances, like toasters, hair dryers, and lamps.
Make sure none of the cords are frayed or broken, and either repair or discard the item if it is damaged. This is also a good time to eliminate any tripping hazards with cords by bundling them or running them under carpets.
Outdoor Electrical Use
Don't wait until the winter holidays to find out your outdoor electrical system and equipment isn't up to snuff. By then, proper replacements may be out of stock, it may be too cold, and you may not have enough time to fix them.
Make certain all your outdoor sockets are protected from the elements with covers. Any extension cords or timers you use for holiday light displays should be rated for outdoor use.
Your interior sockets should get a once-over, too. Make sure none of them are loose or difficult to use. If you have a new crawler or walker in your family, or if you entertain young kids in your home, invest in plastic socket covers that protect kids from accidental electrocution.
Consider installing GFI, or ground fault interrupter, outlets in places where electricity is used near water. While you may already have them in your kitchen and bathroom, if you started brewing beer in your basement, for example, or bathing the dog in the garage, you may want to add them there as well.
Even if your children have outgrown the urge to stick their fingers in electrical sockets, it's good to discuss electrical safety with them. Even college kids need reminders about not leaving certain electrical appliances turned on, like rice cookers, coffee makers, and hot plates.
Kids should know not to stick an object in a plugged-in toaster to retrieve food or to use metal in a microwave oven. All kids who are old enough should know how to operate a fire extinguisher, which you should have on hand, in case of emergency.
Home Power Lines
Take a look at the main lines bringing power into your home from the electrical utility. There should be no tree limbs that could bring them down, and nothing should be loose from past storms. Junction boxes and underground cables should be protected from animals and children, and there should be no landscaping covering or interfering with these items.
Take the time once per year to check your home for potential electrical dangers, and you may stave off large repairs and safety issues with your family. When in doubt, always call a reputable electrical contractor, like one from B & N Electric Company Inc, who can advise you on the best solutions and help you make any necessary upgrades or repairs.