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Residential Electrical FAQs

Electrical problems can be unsettling for most homeowners. Electricity powers many appliances in the home—and when it’s not working, it can be an inconvenience. Some electrical issues can also pose a potential fire hazard. These should be addressed right away by an electrician. In fact, all electrical problems, from a short circuit to rewiring a house, should be handled by a qualified individual with electrical skills and knowledge. Check out these common questions homeowners might ask about the electricity used to power items in their homes.

What uses the most electricity in your home?

This basic electrical question is one of the first questions homeowners may ask. Residential energy consumption is the third-largest use of energy in the United States. These are the 10 most common sources of electricity consumption in 2019, as projected in the Annual Energy Outlook 2020:

  • Space cooling
  • Space heating
  • Water heating
  • Refrigeration
  • Lighting
  • Clothes dryers
  • Televisions
  • Computers
  • Furnace fans
  • Freezers

Sometimes, homeowners don’t know when appliances are actively consuming electricity in their homes. In fact, some appliances use electricity even when they are switched off or not in use! These include printers, microwaves, routers and modems, and gaming consoles.

Why does an outlet spark when I plug in a device or appliance?

It’s normal to see the occasional small flash of electricity when you plug in a lamp, hair dryer or other appliance. However, if there is a spark every time you use the outlet—there might be a problem. The outlet could be short circuiting. Short circuits break down insulation and wires, and they are a potential fire hazard. An individual who works in the electrical trade can help diagnose the problem and recommend a solution.

Why are plugs falling out of my wall outlet?

Over time and with frequent use, the outlet loosens and wears down. When this occurs, homeowners should have it fixed it right away. Like outlets that short circuit, loose outlets can spark too. These sparks are a potential fire hazard. If a socket is worn out, it is best to replace it right away to stay as safe as possible. Replacing an outlet requires rewiring part of the home’s electrical wiring. Make sure to call a qualified electrician who has the knowledge and hands-on skills to rewire a house wall socket easily and quickly.


My circuit breaker trips all the time. Why?

This likely occurs when you use too many appliances at one time. And it may be an indication that your electrical circuits were not designed or installed correctly. Some powerful appliances, such as refrigerators and clothes dryers, require their own powerful circuits. An electrician can inspect the home’s circuitry to determine if too many appliances share a circuit, and ultimately make repairs to stop breaker trips.

What is GFCI protection?

A GFCI outlet is designed to protect against electrical shock if it gets wet. GFCI outlets are required in bathrooms, garages, crawl spaces, basements, laundry rooms and other areas where water is present. They have a test button to turn off the GFCI, and a reset button to turn it back on after it has tripped. Having trouble getting a GFCI outlet to turn back on? Call an electrician who will be able to diagnose and fix the issue.


Interested in learning if an electrical career path is right for you? Check out this blog post or contact us to learn more about the Electrical & Advanced Electrical program at Apex.

*Apex Technical School and its instructors are licensed by the State of New York, New York State Education Department.

Disclaimer: Apex Technical School provides training for entry-level jobs. Not everything you may read about the industry is covered in our training programs.