February 3, 2023
By Mark Paup

5 Common Electrical Issues in Iowa Homes

Updated January 18, 2024

Electrical problems in your home are some of the most frustrating and concerning issues to have. The threat of fire or electrical damage from frequent power problems often leaves many homeowners with a feeling of dread. By learning about the most common electrical issues in Iowa homes, you’ll know if it’s a minor issue that you can handle or if it’s something that requires a bit more expertise. We’ll discuss typical electrical problems like:

  • Loose outlets
  • Outdated wiring
  • Electrical surges
  • Panel upgrades needed

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Our professional electricians are some of the best in the Des Moines Metro area, capable of handling all types of electrical installations, repairs, and upgrades. We can handle issues as small as a loose outlet or as large as a full-home rewiring with the skill and professionalism you deserve. Schedule with us today at 515-393-4526 or visit our electrical services page.

Loose Outlets

When plugging something into an outlet, the outlet might wiggle side to side, sink, or your plug might just fall out. Not only is this irritating, but it is also dangerous if left alone. While you can fix loose outlets yourself, you should always turn off the power before attempting to do so. Use a non-contact voltage tester to confirm that the outlet is dead.

Start by tightening the wall plate screw that draws the wall plate and the outlet together. In some cases, outlet screws may need tightening, which requires removing the wall plate. If these options don’t fix the loose outlet, there could be a spacing issue, or the outlet needs a complete replacement. Usually, it’s better to have a professional perform these changes due to the risk of shock from an improper job.

GFCI Replacements Needed

A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is a type of outlet you probably only see in your bathroom or kitchen, though they can pop up anywhere in a home. Essentially, a GFCI protects you and your home by “tripping” or cutting the current when there is an electrical issue. They work in milliseconds and can prevent burns, fires, deadly shocks, and property damage.

When your GFCI stops working, try tapping the “reset” button. You may need to replace it if it is loose or non-functional. Alternatively, due to their low cost and greater safety, you may consider replacing loose standard outlets in your home with GFCIs.

Outdated Wiring

Many homes in Iowa were built decades ago. Due to the cost or lack of awareness, many of these older homes never received updates to align with modern electrical standards. As a result, many use outdated wiring and may still have a fuse box rather than a circuit breaker. Not only does this dramatically increase the risk of fires and damage to the home, but it can also run up your electricity bill, limit what you can plug in, and harm your appliances.

Keep an eye out for frequently blown fuses or breakers, flickering lights, burning smells, warm or discolored outlets, or two-prong outlets throughout your home. These are all signs that your wiring is outdated and needs professional attention.

Overloaded Circuits

Chances are, you’ve plugged in something like a vacuum or a space heater, and the power in that room suddenly cuts off because the circuit is overloaded. The amount of electricity the area needed exceeded what the circuit could handle safely. The breaker trips and the power shuts off to protect you and the home from harm.

Sometimes, the breaker may not flip, but you can still have an overloaded circuit. Signs of this often include:
  • Buzzing switches
  • Burning odors from switches and outlets
  • Dimming of lights
  • Warm switches

The simple fix to a tripped breaker is to unplug some appliances and reset them. However, if tripping happens frequently or there are other signs of an overloaded circuit, there could be dangerous underlying issues. Reach out to a professional to avoid a major incident.

Electrical Surges

Your electronics are surprisingly fragile and can only handle so much power. During major storms or if there’s an underlying issue, your home may experience an electrical surge. Essentially, something triggers a temporary—but immense—wave of current that can overwhelm your appliances and damage them. Even if one surge doesn’t fry your electronics, multiple surges can slowly degrade them.

While most people associate power surges with lightning strikes, they more commonly occur due to electrical problems, bad wiring, power outages, or a utility company issue. If a surge is large enough, it may even trigger a fire. Products like surge protectors can help protect your devices. If you want to protect your home, experts can inspect your house and give you various safety recommendations.

Panel Upgrades Needed

Because many homes were built before the 1970s, their electrical panels have under 100 amps. Technically, a panel that can handle 100 amps is safe and meets current electrical code standards. However, they do not meet the electricity needs of a modern household, so overloading them is common. Many homes with electrical appliances will use over 200 amps, requiring double what these older panels can handle.

If your home is particularly old, it may still have a fuse box rather than an electrical panel with circuit breakers. Fuse boxes often don’t even support 100 amps, making it even more difficult to avoid overloading your home.

Additionally, electrical panels typically function for about 25 to 40 years. As they age, they become prone to breakdowns and lose their ability to support your electrical load. In areas with frequent power surges, the panels’ lifespans drop significantly.

If you need to add more expansion slots to your pane or if your breakers frequently trip, it may be time to speak with a professional about upgrading your electrical panel.

Looking for a Skilled Electrician? Golden Rule Does It All!

We know how frustrating electrical issues can be. Golden Rule electricians aim to provide high-quality home services that leave you 100% satisfied. We back up our outstanding technical workmanship with a one-year labor warranty on every project.

Visit our electrical services page or call us at 515-393-4526 to schedule with us today and see why we have over five thousand 5-star reviews.

Contact Us Today for Electrical Service!

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