Learning Center

Learning Causes of common electrical problems in a home

Power off to entire home or half the home
This could be caused by a main circuit breaker in the main service panel being worn and defective. It can also be a problem with the main line feeding in from the street, either overhead or underground. It is usually free to have the utility company see if it a problem they would be responsible for first. SDG&E is the power provider to most of the San Diego community. If the problem is in the main circuit breaker this can usually be replaced. Sometimes the metal bus bar that the circuit breaker plugs into becomes damaged and replacement of the entire electrical service may be required.

Power off to a portion of the home
Circuit breaker in an electrical panel has tripped off due to a short or overload. Many times just resetting the circuit breaker will fix the problem. Sometimes a circuit breaker will be tripped but not appear to be tripped off. Other conditions causing the power outage could be loose connections, tripped GFCI receptacle or wires that have been accidentally cut.

Tripping GFCI outlets
A GFCI receptacle is different from standard receptacles. When there is a ground fault, a GFCI receptacle will trip quickly and stop the flow of electricity to the receptacle including anything plugged into it. A GFCI trips to prevent serious injury. A GFCI does not protect against overloads, short circuits, or shocks.

A GFCI outlet can protect only itself or can be wired so it protects several standard receptacles. Many times something plugged into a standard receptacle along distance away from the GFCI receptacle that is protecting it can cause the GFCI to trip. Electrical troubleshooting is required to discover what possible appliance plugged in is causing the GFCI to trip. Occasionally other things can cause a GFCI receptacle to trip. Exterior receptacles that are getting wet, refrigerators, pond pump motors, or hair dryers for example can be going bad causing electricity to leak to ground and in turn cause the GFCI to trip. Periodically GFCI receptacles are mis-wired causing improper working of a GFCI.

No Power to receptacles(plugs) or lights
Electrical outlets (receptacles) and lights that are periodically going off or flickering are usually caused by one or two common problems. A loose wire receptacle (plug) not allowing power to feed onto the remainder of items on the circuit. Problem can be in a receptacle that is actually working but now allowing power to feed down stream from there. Sometimes the connection can be intermittent causing flickering. The second cause could be a circuit breaker that is not working properly, worn or making poor connection on the buss bar in the electrical panel.

Fluorescent lighting dim, slow to turn on, flickering or not working
These are usually symptoms of a ballast going bad in the light fixture. We recommend replacing the ballast with the latest energy efficient type ballast with compatible tubes. Other choices are to install LED tubes that fit in the same sockets. Removal and or replacement of the ballast will still be required.

Lighting or recessed lighting flickering
This could be caused by loose connections, poor connection at circuit breaker, improper lamp wattage or non compatible lamp type with dimmer.

No power to lights
Lamps need replacing, loose wiring connections, defective switch or dimmer, or circuit breaker tripped.

Burning smell from switch or receptacle (plug)
This is usually caused by loose connections.

Burning smell or smoke coming from low voltage recessed light fixture
This may be caused by loose connections at 12 volt transformer at recessed light.

Electric clothes dryer tripping circuit breaker
Circuit breaker may be worn, connections loose at receptacle, receptacle becoming worn or defective or clothes dryer defective.

Electric range or electric cooktop not working
Circuit breaker may be worn, connections loose at receptacle or junction box, receptacle becoming worn or defective or appliance defective.

Garbage disposal not working
Overload switch/red pushbutton at bottom of garbage disposal may need to be reset, cord has become unplugged, garbage disposal switch may be defective, loose electrical connections, tripped circuit breaker, tripped GFCI outlet or a defective garbage disposal.

Dishwasher not working
Cord not plugged in, loose wire connections, tripped circuit breaker or defective dishwasher.

Spa not working
Circuit breaker in main panel may be tripped, GFCI circuit breaker in safety disconnect near spa may be tripped, loose wiring, spa may be defective or heater in spa may be causing GFCI circuit breaker to trip.

Force Air Unit (heater) not working
Unit became unplugged, circuit breaker tripped, thermostat needs re-setting or replacement, component in unit has gone bad.

Air conditioning condenser outside / AC not working
Circuit breaker in electrical panel tripped, fusses in disconnected switch adjacent unit are blown, loose wiring, thermostat needs to be set, thermostat may be defective or defective component in AC unit.

Smoke detectors/alarms chirping
Batteries need replacing or units need replacing.

Exterior standard voltage lighting not working
Lamps need replacing, switch is defective, timer is not set or defective, photocell control defective, loose wire connections, circuit breaker tripped or defective light fixtures.

Exterior low voltage lighting fixtures not working
Receptacle the transformer is plugged into is not working or has a tripped GFCI, defective wall switch, transformer defective, timer in transformer
needs to be reset or is defective, low voltage wiring cut or has loose connections, light fixture sockets or lamps need replacing.

The above listed are only a partial list of common electrical problems found in a home. Causes listed are only some of the possible problems causing these symptoms. Only a qualified licensed certified electrician should diagnose and correct your electrical problems.

Electrician San Diego are your trusted licensed electricians ready to help you fast with any electrical problem you may encounter. Call for a free consultation regarding any electrical concern you may have.