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You’ve seen the warning signs. Flickering, blinking, or dimming lights. Frequently tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses. Or mild shocks when you touch an appliance, receptacle, or switch. An electrical overload can be a nuisance, but it can also be the cause of something extremely serious like an electrical fire.

Your residential electrician knows a few secrets about how to prevent electrical overloads and it’s worth sharing them here.

Residential Electrician Tips for Preventing Overloads

Technician inspecting circuit breaker

There are many reasons your circuit breaker or fuse box may overload. For example, in older homes, electrical panels may not be sufficient for the energy demands of today’s modern equipment. Here’s how to prevent most overloads from happening.

Learn the Amperage of Fuses and Circuit Breakers

Electrical overloads occur when the amount of electricity going through a circuit is too much for the circuit to handle. The most common cause is having too many devices plugged in that are drawing power from the circuit. Circuit breakers when overloaded flip off and can simply be flipped back on (fuses need to be replaced). Either way, it’s a sure sign something’s wrong. To prevent an overload:

  • Determine the amperage of your fuses or circuit breakers.
  • Load circuit breakers and amps to about 80% of their amperage rating.

If you’re unsure how to do this on your own, a local residential electrical service can help.

Label Your Power Panel

This is one of the most common “I’ll get to it later” tasks for homeowners. Creating a circuit directory and labeling circuit breakers, though, will save you a lot of time and frustration if an overload occurs and you want to quickly figure out what the breaker or fuse controls.

You can use labels and a marker, create a grid on a sheet of paper and put it inside the box, or use a permanent marker to write directly on the metal panel next to each breaker. Try to keep the designations generic: write “middle bedroom” not “nursery,” and so on.

For breakers that aren’t already labeled, there’s a quick way to figure out which one controls what. Simply turn on anything you can in the house then switch off each breaker, one at a time. Whatever turns off is controlled by that breaker.

Don’t Use Extension Cords or Power Strips for Appliances

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, over three thousand home fires each year originate in extension cords causing serious injury and death. Never use a power strip or extension cord for a major appliance. Instead, plug them directly into the wall outlet. Also, do not plug multiple heat-producing appliances into an outlet at one time.

If you heavily depend on extension cords in your home, it’s a sure indication you need more outlets. A qualified residential electrician can inspect your home’s current system and add new outlets where needed.

Remember, too, that power strips do not increase the amount of electricity received from an outlet; they only add additional outlets.

Learn More

A licensed, bonded, and insured Santa Rosa residential electrician is equipped to perform jobs safely and correctly and can quickly determine what is causing your home’s electrical overloads.

No matter what your needs for electrical work, Spyrka Electric provides reliable service you can count on, including panel upgrades. Our family-owned business is fully licensed and ready to get started on your next electrical project. To learn more about all our services, contact us by phone, email, or online. We look forward to talking with you!

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