T5UsKit_01_200Electrical outlet doesn’t work: First check the circuit breaker. If no breakers are tripped and the outage is confined to one outlet, it may have burned out. If an outlet shows any sign of blackening around the outlet plugs, it should not be used. Even if one plug is working, the entire outlet should be replaced immediately to avoid the possibility of starting a fire.

Electrical outlets spark: It can be scary when you see a spark fly from an outlet, but sometimes it’s normal.

For example, when power is suddenly diverted to an appliance, there will be a quick draw on the available power, causing a brief spark. Once the electrons are flowing freely, there should be no reason for a spark to form. This is normal, and it’s comparable to static electricity. However, if too much heat builds up in an outlet, it can actually melt the insulation that surrounds the wires. As the wires become exposed, the chance for an electrical fire increases. When a connection is made, the electrons can leap to the wrong area and cause a serious spark. This is known as a short-circuit and can actually case an electrical fire. Exposure to water can also cause an outlet to spark and short out. Installation of a special outlet known as a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) will cause the circuit to shut down if it comes into contact with moisture.

Flickering lights: This is a sign of a poor connection — one that may lead to a broken connection. You will need to call an electrician to hunt down the source and correct it.

On-again/off-again recessed lights: These light fixtures contain a built-in mechanism to prevent overheating, which means they will sometimes turn themselves off. Once the fixture has cooled, it turns back on. This is usually the result of a bad match between your light bulb and fixture, or the ceiling insulation is touching the fixture.

Appliances cause the circuit breaker to trip: High-wattage items running at the same time can overload the circuit. The solution is to move the appliances to a different circuit, or to have an electrician install a separate circuit.

Frequent light bulb burnout: If you find yourself constantly changing light bulbs, it might be the result of using a bulb with a higher wattage than your light fixture can handle. Check your light fixtures to make sure you are using bulbs with the correct wattage.