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ELECTRICAL TROUBLESHOOTING 101

When the power goes out, the cause may be attributed to a light fixture, receptacle, appliance, or other electrical device. On occasion, a circuit breaker of GFCI will unexpectedly trip. Below in our electrical troubleshooting 101 guide, we will take a look at some of the most common problems, and possible solutions to resolve the issue before you reach for the phone and call an electrician.

Loss of Power

To the entire house:

  • Issue with your local electric company (most likely).
  • Main circuit breaker in or near the main electrical panel.

For a few lights and receptacles:

  • Circuit breaker is tripped (quite common).
  • GFCI receptacle is tripped (quite common).
  • Loose connection, loose wire makeup, loose connection to the switch or light fixture, or the receptacle inside of the electrical box could be loose.

A single light:

  • Bad or blown bulb.
  • Bad light switch.
  • Bad light fixture receptacle.
  • Loose connection, loose wire makeup, loose connection to the switch or light fixture, or the receptacle inside of the electrical box could be loose.

A single receptacle:

  • Bad or blown bulb.
  • Bad light switch.
  • Bad light fixture receptacle.
  • Loose connection, loose wire makeup, loose connection to the switch or light fixture, or the receptacle inside of the electrical box could be loose.

Flickering Lights
and Intermittent Loss of Power

If you have lights that flicker on and off, or experiencing intermittent loss of power, the cause is most often attributed to the wiring. There is most likely a loose wire connection somewhere, either in the electrical device, or in the switch and plug.

If you have a loose wire connection, the wire may overheat. This will cause the connection to fail, and may be accompanied by a distinctive crackling noise.

Typically, loose wire connections  occur in the following places:

  • Wire connections to the circuit breaker, or neutral bar inside of the electrical panel.
  • Loose wiring makeup, loose connections to the switch or light fixture, and loose receptacle inside of the electrical box.
  • Pin-pointing the location of the crackling noise may give you a clue as to the location of the loose wire connection.