Are you considering a career as a maintenance electrician? A big part of the job is servicing electrical equipment and diagnosing problems in a home’s wiring. Particularly when working in older homes, electricians often find electrical problems that, if ignored, can become serious safety hazards.
While there’s a broad range of electrical issues that you may encounter once you become an electrician, the following are among the most common examples.
A Lack of Electrical Outlets is a Potential Safety Hazard
Houses built today generally have electrical outlets that are placed no more than 3.6m away from each other. Older houses, however, may have far fewer outlets than people need, which can lead to two potential hazards. First, the homeowners may have to rely on extension cords, which are hazardous if used improperly. For example, joining multiple extension cords together, attaching them to the floor or wall with staples and powering many appliances with a single cord are all fire hazards that you are more likely to see in homes with too few outlets.
Improper use of extension cords increases the risk of blown fuses and fires
Secondly, a shortage of outlets may prompt some homeowners to overload individual outlets with too many appliances, which can lead to blown fuses and even fires. Once you graduate from your construction and maintenance electrician program, you’ll likely have clients who would like you to install additional outlets into their homes.
Watch for This Sign Indicating That a Home’s Wiring May be Ungrounded
Once you begin your electrician career in construction, it’s important to be on the lookout for whether a home has two-holed or three-holed outlets. A lack of three-holed outlets could indicate a serious safety hazard with a home’s wiring: a lack of grounding. The third arch-shaped hole in modern outlets is designed to connect appliances to the grounding wire. Experts know that the grounding wire is essential because, in case of a short circuit, it ensures the electricity is sent to the earth rather than through a person’s body. While new homes are built with a grounding wire, older homes that lack this safety feature will require some major rewiring work.
Ensure Homes Have Enough Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters After Construction School
A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is a simple but essential safety device for outlets that are at risk of coming into contact with water, such as outlets located in washrooms, kitchens or outdoors. A GFCI automatically trips if it detects a discrepancy between the electricity flowing in and out of an outlet, as this discrepancy could indicate a person is being electrocuted. By tripping the circuit, that electricity is redirected through the grounding wire into the earth.
You can tell an outlet is GFCI-equipped if it has a ‘Test’ and ‘Reset’ button
Electrical and building codes, which you will learn about at construction school, now mandate where GFCI-equipped outlets must be located in new homes. The Canadian Electrical Code, for example, requires that any outlet located within 1.5m of a sink, outside within 2.5m of the finished grade, or at other points where it is at risk of coming into contact with water, be equipped with a GFCI. If an outlet contains two buttons which read ‘Reset’ and ‘Test’ then it is GFCI-equipped. If it isn’t GFCI-equipped and is close to a water source, it should be upgraded.
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