The holiday season is just about here, and if you’re like many homeowners in our area, you might be decorating your household, inside and out. Many times, this includes putting holiday lights up and around your home.
One of the most common calls our electricians get this time of the year is in regards to certain outlets not working throughout the property. This might include bathroom outlets, garage outlets, and outdoor outlets. And those holiday lights might be to blame! What happens is that they trip the GFCI outlet or circuit breaker.
GFCI—it stands for ground fault circuit interrupter, and it’s the type of outlet that is installed in areas that see water. So, your bathroom, outdoor areas, laundry room, and garage are all locations where you’ll find this type of outlet. GFCI outles are designed to protect you from serious injury due to electric shock, and will automatically shut off if moisture is detected, or if your electrical system is overloaded.
What Causes Electrical Overloads?
When more amperage passes through an electrical circuit or wire than it is designed to manage, then that’s when overloading happens. Essentially, when you try to draw power for too many lights or appliances from a single outlet, this is what happens.
Even if you’re using different outlets, you’ll want to consider the overall capacity of your home’s electrical system. Your electrical wiring and circuit panel both need to be able to manage the total load of all electrical appliances, equipment, and lighting that depends on it.
Is Your Electrical System Overloaded?
There are some typical warning signs you can watch out for that indicate your electrical system is, in fact, overloaded, like:
- Random dimming of your lights, or flickering lights.
- The sound of crackling, buzzing, or sizzling with no known source.
- Sparks flying when an outlet is used.
- Discolored wall plate or electric cords.
- Frequently tripped circuit breakers.
- Multiple electrical appliances in your home breaking down or malfunctioning.
If you notice any of these signs or suspect something might be amiss with your electrical system, the best thing you can do for your home and safety is to cease use of the affected outlets, appliance, or wall switch and call for an electrical inspection. Don’t just brush if off and blame it on your holiday lights only to ignore it all season.
“So, Should I Not Put Holiday Lights Up?”
No, not at all! It’s possible to prevent electrical overloads without sacrificing your enjoyment of the season. For starters, put your lights up—but before you do, call our professional electricians to inspect your system. We know what to look for and can spot hidden hazards such as faulty or aging wiring. We’ll make proper recommendations from there, such as potentially upgrading your wiring, or your electrical panel if needed.
An additional benefit of upgrading your electrical panel for your holiday lighting is that if you happen to be shopping for any additional appliances or home automation upgrades in the coming year, you’ll already be equipped to take on the increased electrical demands.