Winter is a dark time of year, which may why we so often try to light our holidays with strings of colorful, cheerful lights. Unfortunately, holiday lights pose a threat in many older homes where out of date wiring or low amperage electrical service can lead to overloads and fires. Knowing how to recognize the signs of circuit overload and what to do to prevent problems can help save your home and your holidays.
Recognize the Signs of System Overload
Blown fuses and tripped circuit breakers are an obvious sign that your system is overloaded, but not all electrical overloads will trigger this kind of reaction from your electrical system. To avoid problems, watch for more subtle signs of system overload, including:
- Buzzing or sizzling noises from your electrical outlets.
- Visible sparks when an outlet is being used.
- Flickering or dimming lights.
- Digital clocks resetting frequently.
- Outlet covers warm to the touch.
Take Preventative Action
If you've noticed any of the above signs that your home's electrical system is overloaded, you can avoid holiday electrical fires by taking the following action:
- Spread out your holiday lights over several circuits in your home. Don't plug in all your Christmas lights and appliances into the same circuits in your home. Use extension cords to plug in your holidays lights in a variety of outlets and in a variety of rooms to spread out the electrical burden over a wider area of the home.
- Don't piggy-back power strips. Avoid plugging power strips into power strips. This can easily create a situation where too many lights and other electrical devices are plugged into one outlet.
- Don't ignore the symptoms of an overloaded system. If your home's electrical system seems to be struggling with the task of keeping the lights on this holiday season, have an electrician take a look and make recommendations for upgrades or repairs.
- Consider getting a panel upgrade. If your home is older and your breaker box is as well, it could be time get a panel upgrade. Electrical services with low amperage can severely limit your holiday decorating potential. If you have high hopes for a bright and cheerful home this holiday season, talk to an experienced electrician about getting a new panel installed before it's time to put up the Christmas tree or holiday decorations.
Following these tips, you can help keep your family and your property safe from electrical fires and overloads this holiday season. For more information, or to contact a professional, click here.