Go Back To School Safely with Home Electrical 101
Learn About Your Home’s Electrical Systems – Starting with the Basics
Of all the aspects of a modern home, the electrical system probably gets the least amount of attention. Unless a bulb goes out, a breaker trips or something else goes wrong, most homeowners don’t give it much thought at all. But it pays to learn more about the key electrical components and systems that keep the lights on, especially when it comes to keeping the family safe.
Fortunately, it doesn’t take an electrical engineering degree to understand the basics. This article will outline a few key aspects of every home’s electrical system and how they can be kept safe and problem-free.
Wiring and Wall Outlets
When discussing a home’s electrical system, the natural place to start is the wall outlets and wiring. Every outlet has at least two wires connected to it – hot and neutral. These wires carry electric current in a closed circuit between the outlet and the main electrical panel. If any current escapes this circuit, a third “ground” wire (present in most modern homes) carries the stray current to the home’s main grounding wire to be safely discharged into the earth.
Many older homes don’t have ground wires, which leaves them exposed to a greater risk of electric shock, fires, or damage to appliances and devices, especially in the event of a power surge. Other potential safety risks of older outlets include loose or damaged wires, corroded terminals, and worn prong contacts. Homeowners with old outlets or without grounded 3-prong outlets would do well to upgrade their outlets and wiring for safety’s sake.
Outdoor Electrical Systems
Other things to watch out for in older homes (and even some newer ones) are code violations or potential electrical hazards in the outdoor electrical system. The National Electrical Code has different requirements for outdoor circuits than those inside the home. This is because outdoor electrical equipment often involves higher voltages and is exposed to moisture and other risk factors.
Most outdoor outlets (especially those in exposed areas or near a pool or hot tub) must be weather-rated and GFCI-protected. GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) help prevent electrocution by cutting off power when an imbalance is detected in the current traveling through a given circuit. Many homes lack outdoor GFCI outlets – in some cases, indoor GFCIs (not weather-rated) have been installed outside.
Older homes may also have outdated conduit materials protecting underground cables or pool wiring. Older conduits made of metal have been known to rust and disintegrate, leaving wires exposed, so newer homes typically use PVC for buried wire conduits.
Always Let a Professional Handle Electrical Work
Upon discovering outdated or malfunctioning electrical equipment, it’s always best to call a professional electrician to solve the problem. Even if the issue seems like a simple one, the risks involved are simply too great. Electrocution can be fatal, even at a relatively low voltage – but there are less obvious risks, as well.
Inadvertently damaging wires or incorrectly installing a receptacle or other fixture can lead to an electrical fire; improper grounding can lead to fried devices if there’s a power surge; out-of-code wiring or installs can lead to hefty fines. Professionals are up to date on the latest codes and follow strict safety protocols to ensure the job gets done right the first time – without the fear of death, injury, or disaster looming over the family’s heads!
About Point Loma Electric and Plumbing
The experts at Point Loma Electric and Plumbing have been honored to serve San Diego, CA since 1988. Their licensed, insured, drug-tested, and background-checked technicians are courteous professionals who specialize in handling the electrical and plumbing systems of older homes. Point Loma offers up-front pricing and guarantees satisfaction on every job. Call now for electrical service!