Before we try to answer some of the more commonly asked questions, we’d just like to clarify that we don’t recommend that anyone undertakes their own electrical work unless they are a qualified and registered. However, there are a few bits and pieces you can check if you are having any of the problems listed below. If you are in any doubt whatsoever, just call an electrician!
Why do my bulbs keep blowing?
There are a few reasons bulbs can blow, the major one being cheaper bulbs. The elements in cheap bulbs are thinner and any surge of power can cause them to blow. Always go for the more expensive and better quality light bulbs, it will save you in the long run. If there’s loose connection in the lamp holder, this can also cause bulbs to blow. This is because the circuit is not completed as tightly as it could be and the electricity may have cause to "arc" (jump across the contact), rather than flowing through it. When this happens it produces more heat in the fitting than is expected, and the bulb can blow. The same can happen if the spring loaded connection in the bulb holder is loose. This can very often be diagnosed by looking at the contact on the bottom of the bulb to see if it is pitted.
Why do my lights flicker?
Loose Bulb - The simplest cause of a flickering light bulb could be a loose bulb in the socket of the light fixture. Try turning the light off and tightening the bulb a little to make sure it is fitted securely. Turn the light back on to see if it stops flickering. If you still notice flickering, try replacing the defective bulb. If the light bulb continues to flicker, it’s probably something else…
Faulty Switch or Connection - It is possible for the switch of the fixture will wear out. You can determine if the switch is causing the flickering by jiggling it gently to see if this induces a flicker. It’s also possible that screw terminals on the light switch have a bad connection. Check the plug where it connects with the outlet, making sure it’s seated correctly. If you think the switch is faulty, just replace it to resolve the flickering. If you think that the issue lies with screw terminals, tighten them up a bit. If the plug is loose in the outlet, remove it and gently squeeze the prongs together so that the plug sits more snugly in the outlet.
Voltage Fluctuation - When you turn on an appliance with high wattage, you may notice light bulbs flickering. Anything more than intermittent flickering may be a symptom of more serious electrical issues. In this instance, we would strongly recommend calling an electrician. If the electrician suspects exterior issues outside your home, call the electric company to examine your electric cables outside the house.
What is a PAT test and why do I need it?
‘Portable appliance testing (PAT) is the term used to describe the examination of electrical appliances and equipment to ensure they are safe to use.’ (www.hse.gov.uk 2015)
PAT testing is the nationally recognised way for businesses to make sure that electrical equipment such as appliances, power tools and machinery are safe for use by any person on the premises. It is a legal requirement to comply with these PAT testing laws.
Why does my trip switch keep tripping?
If you don’t know what might be causing the fuse box to trip, take a look at the switches and work out which fuse is tripping alongside the residual current device (RCD). This will allow you to identify the room or circuit the fault is located in. Then unplug every appliance and fitting in the room, switch the electricity supply back on, and then go around the room plugging things one by one until the RCD trips again. Bear in mind that one of your electric appliances or fittings is faulty and could be dangerous, and although your RCD should protect you, this is not guaranteed.
Overloading your circuits is dangerous and can cause your RCD to keep tripping. DO NOT overload your sockets!
Is one of your electric cords shorting out? Perhaps it has a loose connection, or maybe it is visibly damaged. This will also cause the RCD to trip out.
If the main breaker is tripping but individual breakers are fine, then there may well be a fault within the fuse box itself; perhaps the main breaker is at a lower rating than the breaker for the faulty circuits, or perhaps the main breaker is wired up badly. It’s time to call an electrician!
Can I do my own electrical work?
We wouldn’t recommend it! By law, all electrical work carried out in England and Wales must meet the requirements of Part P of the Building Regulation. That’s a blog in itself so we’ll cover the intricacies of Part P another time! In the meantime, call an electrician…
How do I know what wattage bulbs to use in my lighting fixtures?
When you buy any lighting fixture, check the maximum wattage it will take. A bulb with too high a wattage can produce excess heat that can create a fire hazard or damage the fixture. Remember, wattage is the indication of how much power a bulb consumes, not the amount of light it generates. How do I know if the electrician is qualified and registered? You can check with NICEIC HERE or Trust a Trader HERE
We hope that helps answer some of those niggling questions. If you have any other questions you need answering, we are always at the end of a phone, email or Twitter so feel free to drop us a line.