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Things to Check Before Calling an Electrician

Electrical Services Electrician in PA

When electrical problems pop up, many homeowners immediately reach for the phone to contact their electrician; after all, electrical repairs can feel dangerous or intimidating! However, a few easy things to check carry no risk of electrical shocks and may save you a service call!

Before picking up the phone, try out these tips to see if you can resolve your electrical issues without needing a professional electrician’s help!

Check that your device or appliance is plugged in

This might seem like it goes without saying, but over the years, we have encountered many ‘electrical problems’ that merely required a plug to be inserted into a socket!

This problem is most commonly encountered when the plugs are difficult to access, like entertainment centers or home office setups with cluttered power strips.

Check that your outlet isn’t controlled by a switch

Another surprisingly common source of electrical problems that don’t require any electrical work is switch-controlled outlets. Sometimes, just one socket in a multi-socket outlet is controlled by a switch, leading to electrical service requests.

If an outlet suddenly stops working, it is worth checking any mystery switches in the room to see if they may control the non-functioning electrical outlet.

Check and reset GFCI outlets

Outlets in your kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, or near water sources are often protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). These safety devices protect against electrocution by cutting the electrical current to the outlet when unsafe conditions are detected.

However, the outlet will remain non-functioning until the GFCI is manually reset. GFCI protection can be installed on the outlet itself – or integrated into your electrical panel.

Outlet-installed protection is most common and is easily

identified by the “test” and “reset” buttons on the outlet’s face. When a GFCI outlet is not working, try pressing the reset button and trying again.

In some cases, older GFCI outlets may fail and require replacement. Contact a licensed electrician if the outlet is constantly tripping or the reset button does not restore its functionality.

Check that your device/appliance is in good condition

While uncommon, electrical devices do occasionally fail. If it seems that an outlet suddenly isn’t working, it is prudent to test the device on a different outlet that is known to work.

Likewise, you can try plugging in a device which you know to work as a way of verifying that the problem lies within the outlet.

If there is a short circuit within an appliance, it can actually cause your circuit breaker to trip. In this way, a failing device can make it look like you have a problem with your home’s electrical system!

Check your breaker panel and reset any that are tripped

Ok, you’ve made it this far and the outlet still isn’t working! Now it’s time to take a trip to your circuit breaker and look for tripped breakers.

All of your breaker switches should be oriented towards the center of your breaker box. In most cases the switches themselves will be labeled ‘on’ and ‘off’ to show you how they should be positioned.

When a circuit breaker trips the switch will move towards the off position. Sometimes this is a relatively subtle change, with the switch ending up in the middle, so you may need to look carefully.

To reset the breaker, move the switch fully to the off position, and then return it to the on position.

GFCIs and arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) can be installed at the breaker panel – and in this case there will be a white or yellow button next to the switch. These types of breakers are reset simply by pressing the button.

Still having problems? It’s time to call an electrician!


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