As licensed electrician in San Antonio, TX for almost 30 years, we have seen our fair share of home electrical failures and have been called to repair fixtures and circuitry in more homes than we care to count.
But looking back, we made a list of the most common failures we have fixed over the years, and the usual causes for these failures in our region of Texas, where the weather is rather hot and dry. An electrician in Houston could have a different list, as the city is near the Gulf, and much more humid.
1. Faulty Outlets
Common Causes: In San Antonio, Texas, the heat can affect the plastic components of outlets, causing them to become brittle and fail. Dust and sand can also get into outlets, causing them to malfunction.Professional Solutions: As licensed electricians, we start by testing the outlet with a plug-in tester and also a digital multimeter. Depending on the results, we either replace the outlet or repair thewiring. For areas prone to dust and heat, we recommend installing weather-resistant outlets.
2. Circuit Breaker Issues
Common Causes: High temperatures can cause circuit breakers to overheat, especially if they are already close to their load capacity. Additionally, frequent use of air conditioners can overload circuits.Professional Solutions: We identify the cause of the frequent tripping and redistribute the electrical load across multiple circuits or replace the faulty breaker. We also install surge protectors to guard against any external surges.
3. Flickering Lights
Common Causes: High winds can cause power lines to sway, also called galloping lines, leading to flickering lights. Additionally, the frequent use of high-power appliances like air conditioners can cause voltage fluctuationsProfessional Solutions: We inspect the wiring and connections in the affected circuit. If we find any issues, we repair or replace the faulty wiring and secure all connections.
4. Electrical Surges
Common Causes: San Antonio experiences occasional thunderstorms, leading to electrical surges. Also, the frequent cycling on and off of air conditioners can cause minor surges.Professional Solutions: We install surge protectors and whole-house surge protection systems. We also inspect the home’s wiring and grounding to ensure they meet code requirements.
5. Tripped GFCI Outlets
Common Causes: Rapid temperature changes can cause condensation, which can trip GFCI outlets. Also, dust and sand can get into these outlets, causing them to malfunction.
Professional Solutions: We test the GFCI outlet and the devices connected to it. If we find the outlet is faulty, we replace it. In areas prone to dust and rapid temperature changes, we recommend outlets with additional environmental protections.
6. Dead Switches
Common Causes: Dead switches often result from incomplete circuit connections or faulty wiring. In our region, the heat can degrade the internal components of switches, leading to failure.Professional Solutions: As licensed electricians, we first identify whether the issue lies with the switch itself or the circuit it controls. We then either replace the faulty switch or repair the circuit as needed.
7. Hot Outlets or Switches
Common Causes: Overloaded circuits, loose connections, and poor-quality materials can cause outlets and switches to overheat. High local temperatures can exacerbate this issue.Professional Solutions: We inspect the circuit to identify the cause of the overheating. If we find faulty or low-quality components, we replace them with proper materials that meet code requirements.
8. Frequent Electrical Shocks
Common Causes: Electrical shocks often occur due to poor grounding or faulty appliances. Dry air can increase static electricity, leading to more frequent shocks.Professional Solutions: We inspect the grounding system of the home and test the outlets and appliances that have been causing shocks. We then improve the grounding or replace faulty components as needed.
9. High Electrical Bills
Common Causes: Inefficient appliances and poor insulation can lead to high electrical bills, especially with the heavy use of air conditioning in the South Texas heat.Professional Solutions: We conduct an energy audit to identify areas where energy is being wasted. We then recommend energy-efficient appliances and improvements in insulation to reduce electrical consumption.
10. Old or Damaged Wiring
Common Causes: Older homes may have wiring that is not up to current standards. The heat in South Texas can accelerate the degradation of wiring insulation.Professional Solutions: We inspect the entire electrical system to identify old or damaged wiring. We then replace the wiring with new, heat-resistant materials that meet or exceed current electrical codes.
11. Non-Working Ceiling Fans
Common Causes: Ceiling fans can stop working due to faulty motors, wiring issues, or imbalanced blades. The constant use of ceiling fans in South Texas’s hot climate can wear out the motor more quickly.Professional Solutions: As licensed electricians, we first diagnose whether the issue lies with the motor, wiring, or blades. Depending on the issue, we either repair or replace the faulty components.
12. Dimming Lights
Common Causes: Lights often dim when high-power appliances like air conditioners or washing machines turn on. This is especially common in San Antonio, where air conditioners run frequently.Professional Solutions: We inspect the circuit to identify if it’s overloaded or if there are any loose connections. If needed, we redistribute the electrical load across multiple circuits to prevent dimming.
13. Faulty Doorbells
Common Causes: Doorbells can fail due to wiring issues, failed transformers, dead batteries, or faulty chimes. The heat in South Texas affects the electronic components, sometimes leading to failure. Batteries die out more quickly when temperatures vary a lot.Professional Solutions: We check the wiring, transformer, batteries, and chime to diagnose the issue. We then repair or replace the faulty components, using proper materials when appropriate.
14. Burning Smell
Common Causes: A burning smell often indicates overheating or faulty wiring. Hot temperatures can exacerbate these issues, making the smell more noticeable.Professional Solutions: We immediately inspect the electrical system to identify the source of thesmell. If we find any signs of overheating or damaged wiring, we replace the affected components with heat-resistant materials.
15. Loose Electrical Connections
Common Causes: Loose connections can occur due to the natural expansion and contraction of materials in the heat and while under electrical load. This is particularly relevant in South Texas, where temperatures can vary widely.Professional Solutions: We inspect all electrical boxes and connections in the home. If we find any loose connections, we tighten them and ensure they are secure to prevent any electrical issues.
16. Inadequate Outlets
Common Causes: Older homes often lack enough outlets to meet modern electrical needs. In South Texas, the frequent use of multiple cooling devices can exacerbate this issue.Professional Solutions: As licensed electricians, we assess the electrical needs of the home and install additional outlets where required, ensuring they meet current electrical codes.
17. Non-Functional Light Fixtures
Common Causes: Light fixtures can fail due to faulty wiring, blown fuses, or damaged sockets. Heat degrades materials more quickly, leading to failure.Professional Solutions: We diagnose the issue by checking the wiring, fuses, and sockets. We then repair or replace the faulty components, using heat-resistant materials when appropriate.
18. Sparks from Outlets or Switches
Common Causes: Sparks often occur due to loose connections or short circuits. Dry air can make sparking more likely and more dangerous due to increased fire risk.
Professional Solutions: We inspect the sparking outlets or switches and identify the cause. We then repair or replace the faulty components, ensuring all connections are secure.
19. Electrical Code Violations
Common Causes: Older homes often have electrical systems that don’t meet current codes. Frequent modifications by successive owners sometimes lead to code violations.
Professional Solutions: We conduct a thorough inspection of the electrical system to identify any code violations. We then bring the home up to code by replacing or upgrading the necessary components.
20. Generator Issues
Common Causes: Generators can fail due to lack of maintenance, faulty components, or fuel issues. The constant use of generators during our storm season (from springtime to summer) can lead to quicker wear and tear.
Professional Solutions: We perform a comprehensive check of the generator to identify any issues. Depending on the diagnosis, we either repair the faulty components or recommend a replacement.
About the author: All Star Electric is a well-known electrical contractor in San Antonio, TX. They specialize in residential electrical installations and repairs, including the implementation of home-wide systems designed to save energy and lower power bills.