4 Common Electrical Problems and Smart
Sense Solutions



At American Electric – Jacksonville, we want to keep you safely enjoying the proper use of your home or business. Electrical problems can pose major risks to personal safety and property.

Avoid the dangers and pitfalls of these common electrical problems with these easy steps:

  • Recognize the warning signs.
  • Understand the problem.
  • Implement these smart sense solutions.
  • Hire a qualified licensed and insured Electrical Contractor

Electrical Problem #1: Poor Electrical Connections

Some Warning Signs:

  • Corrosion around connections to circuit breakers
  • Consistently tripping breakers or blown fuses
  • Dimming, flickering or too-bright lights
  • Melted or cracked wire installation

These can be signs of a poor electrical connection. Heat buildup due to a poor or faulty electrical connection can cause a fire.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that the “leading areas of origin for electrical fires are the bedroom (14%), attic (12%), and kitchen (11%).”

Smart Sense Solutions

Replace old or moisture-damaged breakers. If you have an outdated fuse box, consider calling us to upgrade it. Your American Electric technician will check the safety and condition of your wiring and assess any requirements to bring it up to current legal codes.

Check for mismatched breakers, even in newer electrical service panels. If lower-amp breakers have been replaced with higher-amp breakers, your circuits could overload without tripping a breaker.

Verify that your breakers match the amp rating of your circuit breaker or electrical service panel.


Electrical Problem #2: Faulty Wiring

Some Warning Signs:

  • An electrical outlet that is warm to the touch
  • Switches not working properly
  • Signs of scored or discolored electrical cords, plugs, or switch plates
  • An unexplained burning or acrid odor

These warning signs may be an indication of old, damaged or faulty wiring.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NAPA), “Nearly one third (31%) of home electrical fires began with ignition of wire or cable insulation.”

Smart Sense Solutions

Verify that all outlets are grounded outlets. You’ll recognize them as having three holes, designed for a three-prong plug.

If switching from ungrounded (two-prong outlet) to grounded outlets (three-prong outlet), know that simply substituting the outlet is not enough. A new grounded wire must be installed to the outlet, requiring a licensed electrician to install the new wire to the load center of the three-hole. Or, you may utilize a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GRCI).

You’ll want to have your electrical wiring inspected by an expert, such as the highly trained electrical technicians at American Electric – Jacksonville. Hire a qualified licensed, insured electrician to replace damaged wires immediately.

If your older home has aluminum wiring, consider the benefits of rewiring with copper wiring. Despite the persistent myths about having aluminum wiring in your home or commercial business, aluminum wiring is not illegal or banned. Copper wiring has its advantages:

  1. Copper wiring has a higher electrical conductivity than does aluminum.
  2. Copper’s high melting point and flexibility makes it an excellent choice for home and business electrical wiring.
  3. Copper’s high tensile strength means it holds up well under extreme stress.

Electrical Problem #3: Electrical Overload

Some warning signs:

  • Frequent tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses
  • Outdated, worn or faulty wiring
  • A persistent, unexplained burnt or bitter odor
  • Overloaded circuits in a panel
  • Buzzing or cracking noises near a panel or elsewhere

Too many heavy-use appliances or electrical devices pulling from the same electrical circuit can cause an electrical overload. This may include outdoor lighting, such as Christmas lights, as well. The combined usage may exceed the capacity of the electrical wiring along the circuit.

The NFPA reports that, on average, 47,700 US homes experience fires caused by electrical failures or malfunctions each year, resulting in 418 deaths, 1,570 injuries, and $1.4 billion in property damage.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that the use of arc fault circuit interrupters could prevent half of all electrical fires in a given year.

Smart Sense Solutions

Safeguard against electrical overload by plugging all appliances directly into a wall electrical outlet.
Limit the outlet to one heat-producing appliance at a time, and never use multi-outlet converters for such appliances.
If you’ve using electrical extension cords to access outlets from a distance, consider calling a qualified licensed, insured electrician to install additional outlets.

Do not overload power strips with electrical devises. Also, use only appropriate watt bulbs for lamps and lighting fixtures.

Use an overcurrent protection device in your main electrical system panel.


Electrical Problem #4: Nonperforming, Loose or Wrong Outlets

Some warning signs:

  • Electrical outlets that buzz or spark
  • Electrical shock when plugging or unplugging a cord
  • Cords that fall easily from plugs
  • Burn marks around the outlet terminal
  • Nonworking or “dead” outlets

Electrical outlets, like any other electrical device, can wear over time. Damaged, worn or loose electrical outlets are a danger. Worn or loose metal contact points on the plug connection result in decreased contact with plug blades. Resistance builds, causing heat that can lead to wiring problems, tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses.

Smart Sense Solutions

Replace worn or damaged outlets. Be sure that you are replacing an old outlet with a new outlet of the same amp size. The 15-amp receptacle is common in homes.

In the case of “dead” outlets, check nearby electrical receptacles. Verify that it is the outlet with the issue and not a connected appliance, lamp, or other electrical device.

Check the electrical service panel, circuit breaker panel or fuse box. In some cases, the issue may be a GCFI circuit breaker that needs resetting.

Owners of older homes may consider upgrading to GCFI outlets where needed. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GCFI) receptacles are required in spaces where moisture is expected (kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, exterior locations, etc.). When making home remodels, an Electrical Contractor will inform you of code requirements concerning all electrical receptacles.

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