We can never be too safe with electricity and our home equipment. One missed opportunity can lead to costly damage and repairs in the future. If you are concerned about electrical safety in your home, look into these tips on how to do your own electrical safety checks between inspections.
Why Electrical Safety Should Be A Priority
No matter which sector you belong in your community, electrical safety is a priority that you shouldn’t ever overlook. Laws and regulations state professionals conduct inspections and testing regularly to ensure electrical safety for all.
Let’s look at how these regulations affect you in your daily life.
For The Community
In the US, their government knows how important it is to keep electrical equipment running properly on commercial and industrial property. A faulty piece of electrical equipment can cause disruptions in operations and, worse, lead to injuries and fatalities.
This is the reason businesses in Australia like Asset Test & Tagprovide the valuable service of testing and tagging electrical equipment and ensure compliance with state and federal laws.
This is no different in the UK, where compliance laws are quite specific for commercial settings.
If electrical safety is a chief priority for businesses to stay in operation, what more of a priority should it be for your home as well?
For The Home
In the UK, electrical safety standards are in place for the private rented sector, which includes landlords and tenants.
If you are a tenant, it is expected to meet electrical safety standards at all times. These include thorough inspection and testing of wiring, sockets, and other fixed electrical parts by a professional every five years.
As a tenant, you are also expected to abide by national electricity standards throughout your stay in your home. Your landlord must also give you a report about the condition of the property’s electrical installations, a copy of which will also be submitted to the local council.
Electrical Safety Checks You Can Do Yourself
In the meantime, you can still check your electrical safety on a more regular basis in between inspections. To ensure the safety of your electrical outlets and appliances at home, we suggest you do these electrician-recommended checks at least once a year.
1. Test All Outlets
Sometimes, outlets end up going dead for no good reason at all, and that’s an inconvenience.
We suggest checking both exterior and interior outlets with a block tester, which is one of the most affordable tools you can have in your home for outlet testing. Just follow instructions on how to read the results of the outlet tester so you can have a good idea of what’s going on with your outlets.
If you have an outlet that is ground fault circuit interrupt (GFCI) protected, you can test that outlet simply by pressing the button on the outlet to make sure that you have turned off all outlets safely. This ensures that your outlet doesn’t cause any problems when exposed to a nearby water source.
2. Check The Breaker Panel
If you have a breaker panel in your home, chances are that it’s often neglected, unless there’s an emergency. Make sure that you’re prepared for those emergencies by flipping the circuit breakers on and off to ensure that they’re not sticky, corroded, or damaged.
Also, keep a portable light source nearby to make it easier to check the breaker panel in case that emergency happens.
3. Check For Exposed Wiring
Any kind of exposed electrical wiring poses an immediate electrocution hazard in your home. If you find any exposed wires that are uncapped or poorly spliced in your home, call an electrician right away and make sure that they can hide these safely. A proper electrical box is also important to prevent your home wiring from catching fire when there’s a spark.
4. Look Through Your Extension Cords
Even if you don’t always use your extension cords, it’s always good to check them for cuts, nicks, and other damage that could cause problems for you and your family when you use them. This is especially true for extension cords used for power tools, which require their own safety precautions.
Always treat any exposed wires from extension cords with care. You can also fix them easily with electrical tape as long as they’re not plugged in.
5. Check Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
If you have installed detectors for smoke and carbon monoxide in your home, check the batteries regularly to make sure they are still working. An effective smoke alarm or carbon monoxide detector can make a vast difference in saving your life in an emergency. Check the date for each alarm as well; if they are over 10 years old, it’s time to replace them.
6. Inspect Your Appliances
This applies to all major appliances in your home.
If you have an oven or range, clean it regularly. And if you have an AC, make sure to invest in its maintenance regularly, suggest AC installation experts at the Downtown Air and Heat. Keep flammable substances away from the appliance. Dryers and refrigerators should have enough space for air to circulate behind them. Plug appliances that are typically close to water sources like washing machines into GFCI-protected outlets.
Place all wires away from heat sources and any place where they can trip over. If you receive an electrical shock from an appliance, have that appliance serviced immediately.
7. Use Your Senses
Even if you don’t have an electrical system check scheduled in your home, it’s always good to use your own judgment when you sense that something is off-base. Here are some examples of how to use your senses to check for electrical safety:
Hot Switches and Outlets
Place a hand on any outlet or light switch. Are they too uncomfortable or painful to the touch? Chances are that the outlet or switch is generating too much heat, which could become a fire hazard if left unchecked.
Sometimes your sense of smell can also tell you where to locate a “hot wire” in your home. If a switch or outlet smells unusual, turn off the power at the breaker and scrutinize it. You can also use a voltage tester to verify if the power is off before you check.
Popping and Cracking Sounds
The sound of cracking in an outlet or switch can also spell trouble for your entire home. Follow the procedure stated above for unusual smells, being careful to make sure that there’s no power going to the switch or outlet when you look. Call an electrician if the problem is too complicated to deal with yourself.
When Should You Call A Professional?
The tips we’ve recommended should give you an idea of what to expect when you’re checking for electrical problems in your home. These are simple tasks that you can do with a minimal amount of equipment necessary, and possibly a small investment of time.
We always suggest that you use your judgment before calling an electrician, but it’s always best to leave fixing live wires and other fire hazards to the experts. It’s also good to have a professional on hand if you don’t have all the tools to test outlets or circuits in your home.
If you sense from casual inspection that something is problematic with the electrical system in your home, never hesitate to call a professional. It’ll save you time, but more often than not, it could also save your life and your family’s lives.