6 Common Residential Wiring Problems and How to Fix or Avoid Them


Residential electricity is one of our specialties. We often answer calls about flickering lights, outlets that aren’t working, electrical heat odors, and other very common wiring problems. It’s never recommended that homeowners with no electrical knowledge try to repair the electrical system on their own. Electricity is potentially deadly and should always be taken care of by someone with both education and experience.

  1. Old Wiring – Homes built before 1980 can generally be considered to have old Some of the systems used prior to 1980, while they work fine in most cases, can be dangerous when used with today’s electronics or appliances. Knob and Tube wiring, for example, may be covered with insulation and lead to overheating or fire. Have an electrician check the wiring and get a few different quotes on replacement to bring everything up to code.
  2. Overextended Panel – Electrical panels are rated for a specific number of circuits. Too many circuits on a single panel puts a lot of stress on the system. You may notice more flipped breakers or occasional problems with dimming lights when multiple appliances are running. Add a subpanel or replace the existing panel with a larger model.
  3. Flickering with Wind – Wind creates a lot of damage if it is strong enough. The wiring going into the weatherhead can become frayed and cause the lights to flicker due to a short in the wiring that separates when the wind blows. The utility company is generally responsible for the weatherhead. Call them and have it inspected if you feel that is the problem.
  4. Loose Outlets – Outlets succumb to wear and tear over time. When you plug something into an outlet and it immediately falls out, it simply means that the receptacle can no longer grip the prongs as it should. Replace old outlets as soon as possible.
  5. Light Bulb Burns Fixture – A lot of homeowners are unfamiliar with the issue of overlamping. They want a bright room, so they buy high wattage light bulbs. They don’t realize that if the fixture isn’t rated to meet the demands of that particular bulb, it will likely burn the surrounding materials and may damage the fixture. Check fixtures to make sure they’re rated to support the bulbs you wish to use. Use 60-watt or smaller bulbs in fixtures with no indicators.
  6. Lack of GFCI Outlets – The absence of GFCI outlets is perfectly normal with older homes. A GFCI is still a much safer option around areas with water, such as the bathroom and kitchen. The purpose of a GFCI outlet is to shut down within 4 milliseconds to prevent deadly shock. Change all normal outlets that are within four feet of a water source to GFCI outlets.

Some electrical issues are code violations, but not all. Don’t automatically assume that just because one thing is a code violation that everything will have to be ripped out and replaced. This isn’t the case at all. Most of the time electrical problems can be addressed in a very affordable manner, including several code violations. Call us at 443-579-5701 if you’re currently experiencing electrical problems that you would like to see addressed.