7 Warning Signs You Need An Electrician

March 4, 2015

7 Warning Signs You Need An Electrician


Now we all know – I try to be pragmatic, not an alarmist.  Unfortunately, sometimes things are just so awful I absolutely cannot say anything.  With the 2014 National Electric Code now in enforcement locally and hopefully across most of the nation, it is especially important that we be aware of warning signs and protect our family and possessions from the risk of improperly installed or wired electrical ‘solutions’.  These kinds of electrical problems can also serve as warning signs for new home buyers who are concerned about things like safety – and of course, insurability.

Courtesy EC&M Magazine

7.  The problems with this panel are multiple – but as a casual consumer there are two vital things to take note of here.  The first is that someone took a very sharp object and cut a hole in a place where one wasn’t intended to exist, which can lead to secondary problems such as nicked wires, electricity energizing the panel, rust, dirt, detritus, increased risk of flammability, water violation, etc. etc.  You don’t need to know exactly what ‘worst case scenario’ could be to know this is a dangerous situation.  The second part is harder to pick up on, it is subtle and more subconscious – breakers mounted incorrectly (in this case, upside down) can confuse and/or endanger panel users who do not know that the switches operate in reverse.  This could mean accidental electrocution, among other things, for people trying to work on or repair this home’s electrical system.

Courtesy Joe Tedesco and the Electrical-contractor.net forums

6. This might not look like a big deal – but a box that is overly full, without a cover, wires twisted in the wrong direction and without wire nuts or protection of any kind makes it a dangerous and sore spot for the unsuspecting.  This of course threatens electrocution, and puts the home at risk for arcing, sparking, and worst of all – electrical fire.

Courtesy electrical-forensics.com Courtesy of electrical-forensics.com

5.  This might be the epitome of ‘easy engineering’ but there is never a circumstance where plugging a permanent exterior fixture, equipment, or apparatus into an extension cord is ‘ok’.  Even on a GFI circuit and with a ‘waterproof/weatherproof’ rated extension cord, no plug, outlet, or electrical current is ‘waterproof’.  Exterior conditions are damp or wet and there is no extension cord intended to provide a homeowner with protection from that kind of hazard.  Not only that, but pinching, crimping, bending, twisting, and otherwise reshaping an extension cord causes it to become susceptible to something called ‘resistance heating’.  What this means is that the wire itself has an increased resistance to the current, will heat up, and the plastic-coated extension cord is now at risk of melting, shorting, over-drawing current from the circuit, or otherwise failing.  Personally, I would not enjoy having my front porch’s metal overhang electrified and attempting to kill anyone who walks by.

Courtesy of markperryelectrical.com

4.  If you examine the background of this picture, you’ll notice this installation is actually outside – and judging from the inside condition of the box, these parts weren’t intended for outdoor use.  All the buildup of dust and dead bugs, dirt and what-not means that those wires are at risk of catching fire, arcing, or sparking.  Not only that, but compromising this switch means that any other wiring after the switch is at risk of failure since any of the elements – included added debris – now inside the switch could make it fail or malfunction.

Courtesy of Reliabilityweb.com

3.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – at least until people stop bypassing their electrical safety measures – that ‘tricking’ your electrical system into functioning at a point where it is designed to stop working for a reason is sheer folly.  Don’t ever put your loved ones, possessions, pets, or anything of any importance at risk by ‘jury rigging’ something like this ridiculous nonsense.  Electricity is not something to be casually dismissive of, nor to treat with any sense of disregard.

Courtesy Burienelectricians.com

2.  I have no idea if a fire caused the very obvious damage here, or if this awful conflagration started the fire.  If I was a betting woman, I’d wager that electricity contributed to hot and drying conditions, and might even have ignited wood which then was happy to burn under its’ influence.  Either way, let’s not repeat the situation.  Turn off the breaker and call in a team of restoration experts – including a licensed electrician.  Make sure that whatever it is – resistance heating, a short, faulty wiring – is fixed and up to code.


Yes, that is what you think it is. Courtesy of EC&M Magazine

1.  Somewhere, somehow, someone got confused about ‘interior’, ‘flush’, ‘mount’, and how to ‘protect a panel’.  This is the electrical service panel for a property which has been somehow enclosed in a bright yellow portable bathroom.  I’m not sure how that part even happened, but I can deduct that they were trying to provide a safe and secure enclosure for the service.  Traditionally, one would think: garage, house, heck even a shed might handle it.  This is such a gross (haha!) misinterpretation of the intent of the electrical code that it’s more sad than anything else.  And also, bright yellow.  Thank you.

Panel Installation


Don’t be afraid to call an electrician – as trained experts in their fields, armed with a vast array of tools and skills, they can turn problems into solutions.  Not only that, but their knowledge will protect you, your loved ones, and your valuables from future problems.  Our promise to you is your safety and satisfaction, because there is nothing that compares to – or can replace – doing the right thing.

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Swartz Electric – Your Colorado Springs Electrician performs electrical work throughout Colorado Springs, Monument, Black Forest, Fountain, Falcon, Woodland Park, and everywhere in between. We are the electricians in Colorado Springs to solve your electrical problems and meet your electrical requirements.

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This is an original article written by Mai Bjorklund for Swartz Electric. This article may not be copied whole or in part without the express permission of Swartz Electric, LLC.

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