I feel very strongly that electrical repairs are best left to electricians who know what they are doing. I think it’s because I can’t see electricity that I simply don’t feel confident either diagnosing or repairing a problem and I get very nervous if my husband has a go. Electrical problems are more likely in older properties and if you have old wiring, you need to be even more aware of warning signs that something is wrong.


I think of my circuit breakers as good friends. They are designed to trip when a circuit gets overloaded. They shut off the electrical supply so that wires won’t get overheated and start a fire. If breakers trip occasionally it could mean that a circuit is overloaded. Try plugging the appliance you are using into a different circuit and see if that makes a difference. If a circuit breaker trips frequently and it is not obvious why, consult an electrician. Circuit breakers can trip because they are old, then they are not doing their job properly.


Before attempting any electrical repairs, turn the main breaker off before you begin. If you ever feel a mild electric shock when touching an appliance that is plugged in, the wiring could be faulty or there may be a ground fault in the appliance. Don’t ignore the problem and think it’s nothing much. It could get much more serious.


In scary movies flickering lights are usually a sign of unwanted otherworldly visitors. In the real world they are more likely a sign of a loose or defective light bulb. Try replacing the bulb. If the problem continues, the fault may be in the light fixture itself. If in doubt, consult a professional.


If a light switch suddenly stops working or works intermittently, the wiring may be loose. If a receptacle moves in the wall or the plug is loose, the wiring may have moved. Plugging and unplugging an appliance could cause a shock. Stop using the electrical outlet and get it checked by an electrician.


Your bathrooms should be fitted with GFCIs – Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters. If they aren’t, change them immediately. These inexpensive but potentially life saving devices shut off an electrical power circuit when they detect that the current is flowing along an unintended path, such as through water or a person, instead of just through an appliance. You can see that GCFIs are pretty important mechanisms that reduce the chance of you getting an unwanted and shocking surprise! If a GFCI outlet in the bathroom suddenly stops working, it may simply need to be reset by pressing the RESET button. If the button will not reset, there is still a problem.


If you notice a burning smell or see smoke coming from any outlets or switches, don’t take any risks. Turn off the power at the electrical panel and contact an electrician.