As winter draws to a close, some of you may already be daydreaming about the renewal of spring: planting flowers, firing up the sprinkler system, and rolling up your sleeves for a deep spring cleaning. But while you’re planning to sweep out the dust and bring in the fresh air, there are some components of your electrical system you should keep in mind, as well.
Inspect Your Outlets
Since you’ll be at floor level wiping down your baseboards anyway, take some time to examine the electrical outlets in your home. Signs of physical damage, corrosion, mold or moisture are the most important things to look for, and if you discover any, it’s a good idea to call an electrician for a complete inspection. Outlets are fairly easy to replace for homeowners who are well versed in electrical safety, but licensed electricians can conduct thorough checks to trace the problems back to their origins and make sure the home is safe going forward.
If the outlet or its plate feels loose, try removing the plate with a screwdriver to investigate further. It could be a simple matter of a screw or two vibrating loose over time, but it could also be a sign of structural problems hidden behind the plate.
Clean Your Exhaust Fans
This is probably already in your spring cleaning strategy, but it’s very important to clean the exhaust fans in your bathroom and kitchen. In the bathroom, exhaust systems can accumulate dust, which reduces their efficiency. And if the exhaust system is combined with a heating element, operating a dusty fan could even ignite the dust and cause a small fire.
In the kitchen, exhaust fans can accumulate a layer of cooking oils and other sticky substances that waft up from the range in tiny particles. After years of neglect, this can also cause problems with fan function and increase the fire risk.
Clean Your Light Switches
This is an easy cleaning task to overlook, but it shouldn’t be -- light switches get touched as often as just about anything else in your home. Give them all a thorough wipedown.
Inspect Your Cords
Electrical cords are covered in durable rubber sheaths, but that doesn’t make them invulnerable. Damage can happen in all sorts of ways, from getting pinched in doorways, punctured with tools or even nibbled on by pets or vermin.
If you discover any damage along the length of an extension cord, you should throw the cord out and replace it. Wrapping a little electrical tape around the damage is not a safe repair. If there’s damage to the integrated cord on a valuable appliance, you should have it repaired by a professional technician. In the case of cheap appliances, it may be cheaper to replace the appliance itself rather than seek a cord repair.
Test and Maintain Your Detectors
This is also the perfect time of year to check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Testing procedures vary among models, but most have test buttons you can use to ensure that they’re still functioning. Backup batteries should be replaced every six months. And all of these detectors have expiration dates -- if yours are past their prime, this is the year to replace them. An expired smoke or carbon monoxide detector can’t be relied upon to keep your home and family safe.
If you come across any major electrical abnormalities as you give your home a thorough makeover this spring, don’t hesitate to call your local Mister Sparky for help.