Does My House Need Regular Electrical Maintenance?
Your home’s electrical systems serve a critical function – literally powering everything from your toaster to your garage door – but too often we simply wait for things to go wrong. Just like your HVAC system should be serviced regularly to prevent problems from occurring, preventative maintenance is essential for your electrical equipment too!
At Rytec, our monthly service plan includes free annual inspections where we assess your household electrical system, check for risks, and perform routine maintenance as needed. Keep reading to see which components of your electrical system need regular upkeep to keep you safe and stay working their best.
Types of Electrical Maintenance
When people reach for the phone to call their electrician, they’re usually calling about a problem which needs fixing. This is corrective maintenance. There is a problem, and it needs to be fixed!
Ultimately, corrective maintenance is unavoidable. Everything from lighting strikes to bad luck while driving a nail while hanging a painting can lead to unexpected electrical work.
However, whenever possible it is best to avoid corrective maintenance as this implies you’ve already had an outage and the downtime associated with it. That’s where the other forms of electrical maintenance come into play.
The expression “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is just as true for your home’s electrical services as it is for your health. Ensuring that critical components like circuit breakers stay functioning correctly can prevent catastrophic electrical fires and save you from making emergency calls to an electrician.
At Rytec when we say “preventative maintenance” we are talking about three main strategies for identifying and repairing systems before they fail:
Predictive maintenance involves assessing the performance of your electrical systems and looking for signs that a piece of equipment is approaching the end of its life. This process varies depending on what your maintenance technician is looking at – but generally will merge a thorough observational assessment with detailed measurements.
From using thermal imaging equipment to detect failing electrical wiring to measuring how readily your circuit breakers trip, maintenance electricians are able to detect many problems before they’ve had time to fully manifest.
Failure finding maintenance
Failure finding is similar to corrective maintenance in that the systems which are being repaired have already failed! The difference is that with failure finding maintenance the homeowner hasn’t yet noticed the problem, either because it is a rarely used system, or because the problem is hard to detect without looking for it.
A common example of this sort of undiagnosed failure is ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCIs) failures. GFCIs are a type of circuit breaker which minimize the risk of electrocution and when they fail they simply might not disconnect the power in the event of a problem.
Under normal conditions the outlet will function just fine, but in an emergency situation they won’t disconnect the power, possibly resulting in injury or death. Our electricians will test each GFCI circuit to ensure that they are working properly and replace any that fail to activate.
In some cases the best way to keep your need for electrical repairs to a minimum is to replace parts on a regular schedule. Just like your car’s oil or your air conditioning’s air filters, some electrical components have a reasonable lifespan and simply need to be replaced after this time period.
Which Electrical Components Need To Be Checked Regularly?
As we’ve transitioned from incandescent bulbs to fluorescents and finally to LEDs, lighting systems have grown in complexity. While the LED bulbs that you’ve recently installed may advertise 20,000 hour lifespans, the transformers and dimmer switches they’re connected to may effectively limit their service life.
You should have an electrician assess your home’s lighting system annually, particularly if you’ve installed dimmers, smart switches, or smart bulbs.
It’s becoming increasingly common for homeowners to invest in backup generators, protecting their sensitive electronics from power outages and keeping critical systems up no matter the condition of the grid. Backup generators are robust and long lasting but require regular maintenance to continue working their best.
As a part of your annual electrical maintenance, you should perform generator maintenance and stay up on oil changes, filter changes, and assess the condition of your transfer switch. In addition to replacing wear items, the generator should be powered up and its output should be measured to ensure everything is working properly.
Solar Panels, Inverters, Monitoring Systems, and Interconnects
Solar arrays are a great way to save money on your utility bills while doing your part to help reduce carbon emissions. To keep your solar investment working its best it is important to have the core components of your solar system assessed annually.
The panels themselves are extremely long lived and likely will not need any work for decades, but power inverters, monitoring systems, and power-grid interconnects require more regular servicing.
Electrical Safety Maintenance
The most important part of regular electrical maintenance is verifying that your home’s electrical system is safe. Modern electrical systems include several types of protection ranging from simple fuse based circuit breakers to more complex arc-fault detecting circuit breakers which prevent house fires.
Ideally, these systems ‘fail-safe’ which is to say, when the protection stops working the circuit will stop working. However, if a circuit breaker fails in the ‘on position’ it is possible that you won’t realize the protection is gone until it is too late!
Regular electrical maintenance keeps your home’s protection systems in working order so in the event of an emergency you can rest easy knowing that your home and family are safe.
Your HVAC system is a mix of mechanical and electrical systems. Regular electrical maintenance will ensure that components like solenoids, sensors, and starter capacitors are working properly all year long. This will save you from making emergency calls to your HVAC guy in the middle of a summer heat wave or an unexpected blizzard.
Electrical Maintenance Saves You Time and Money
Instead of spending your valuable free time doing electrical troubleshooting, avoid the problems in the first place! Annual maintenance keeps your home’s electrical system working great, saving you from the inconvenience of outages or even more severe issues like electrical fire and electric shock!
At Rytec we offer a maintenance plan which includes annual maintenance checks as well as discounts on any required services. Don’t let electrical problems sneak up on you – get your home’s electrical system checked regularly!