The Holidays and Your Electrical System: What You Should Know

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There’s no denying that the holiday season is here! And if you are like many homeowners throughout the greater Denver area, there’s a good chance you’ll be decorating your home, inside and out. Often, this includes putting up lighting up and around your home.

One of the most common calls that electricians receive around this time of the year is in regards to outlets throughout a living space not working as they ought to—or rather, working at all. This might include bathroom outlets, or outlets in your garage space and outdoors. The most common cause for this is that outdoor holiday lighting can trip a GFCI outlet or circuit breaker in your home.

About GFCI Outlets

GFCI is the acronym for ground fault circuit interrupters. This outlet is installed in areas where water is present—such as your bathroom, outdoor areas, laundry room, and/or your garage. They were developed to protect household occupants and your property from serious injury due to electric shock, and automatically shut themselves off if any moisture is detected or if your electrical system is overloaded.

About Electrical Overloads

When there is too much amperage passing through an electrical system or wire, overloading can occur. Essentially, you’re trying to draw power for too many lights and/or appliances from a single outlet or circuit breaker, and it is just not designed to manage that much power.

Even if you’re using multiple different outlets, however, you’ll still want to consider the overall capacity of your home’s electrical system. Your electrical wiring and circuit panel both need to be able to manage the total load of all electrical appliances, equipment, and lights that rely on it.

Is Your Electrical System Overloaded?

In the absence of a total blackout, sometimes it can be hard for the average homeowner to determine on their own if they are overloading their electrical system. Fortunately, there are some warning signs you can watch out for, such as:

  • Occasional dimming or flickering of your lights.
  • The sound of sizzling, crackling, or buzzing with no known safe source.
  • Sparks flying when an outlet is used.
  • Discolored electrical cords or wall plates.
  • Frequently tripped circuit breakers.
  • Multiple electrical appliances in the home malfunctioning or breaking down.

Upon discovering any of these symptoms of a system overload, the best thing for you to do is cease use of the lighting, appliance, or outlet in question, and then call for an electrical inspection before you try using it again.

It’s also worth noting, we aren’t saying you should avoid putting holiday lights up! You can help prevent electrical overloads without sacrificing your holiday enjoyment. To do this, our recommendation is that before you put your lights up, call us first so our expert electricians can thoroughly inspect your system. We know what to look for and will be able to spot hidden hazards such as faulty or aging wiring.

You can get ahold of a professional, highly trained licensed electrician in Denver, CO and get peace of mind by calling Bell Plumbing and Heating, the company metro area homeowners have been trusting for over 90 years!

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