Signs of Shoddy Electrical Work in the Home


There may be clearly visible signs of inferior and potentially hazardous electrical work inside your home. However, it often takes a licensed electrician to recognize these signs. Haphazard or shoddy electrical installations and repairs are usually done in haste with substandard supplies by amateurs who charge a cheaper price for poorly performed services.

A handyperson or a general contractor is not an electrician, and electrical work differs from other home maintenance tasks in that it can be hazardous to both home and family if performed in a slipshod manner. Electrical work must also meet stringent municipal building codes to ensure safety and code compliance.

Here are a few indicators of inferior electrical work that a professional electrician should correct.

Chaos in the Breaker Box

The circuit breakers in the breaker box control the flow of current to individual circuit lines in the home. These circuit lines may power multiple components in different areas or floors within the home.

The inside panel of the breaker box door should have a circuit directory that lists the area of the home controlled by each breaker. The directory will usually resemble the breaker panel, with descriptions of the areas covered by each individual breaker documented in the corresponding section of the directory.

For example, if you wish to know the area controlled by the second breaker on the left side of the panel, you will look in the second box on the left side of the directory. Conversely, if you wish to know the breaker that controls the flow of power to a specific area of the home, you will check the directory to locate the proper breaker.

This is important information in an emergency situation that requires shutting off the breaker that controls power to a sparking, smoking, or otherwise malfunctioning electrical component in the home.

Circuit lines installed by amateurs or handypersons may either be incorrectly identified on the directory or be described in illegible scribbles made in haste while writing sideways on a movable panel door.

Melted Outlet Covers

While not a common occurrence, improper wiring can actually cause heat intense enough to melt the plastic outlet or the outlet cover that conceals the wiring’s ineptitude. This is especially true in special 30-amp outlets used for high-powered appliances such as electric dryers.

These types of appliances require heavier-gauge wiring than the regular circuit lines in your home, and the thickness of the wiring makes connections more problematic. This difficulty may lead an amateur who wants to finish the job in a hurry without much effort to claim the work is good enough, and the installer may leave wiring too loose for a proper connection.

A handyperson may also use a lighter gauge of wire to save money. Cutting this corner could lead to overheating sufficient to cause partial melting. Look for misshaped areas of the outlet cover for signs of possible melting. If you find such signs, turn off the breaker to the component and call a licensed electrician.

A 30-amp breaker will consist of a two breaker switches on a single wide breaker. The switches will shut off together and have the number 30 stamped on them.

Bare Wiring

Installing bare wiring is a common cost-cutting move by amateur electricians. You may see plastic-coated sheaths of wire originating from the sides of your breaker box and stapled along the ceilings, only to disappear into holes in the ceilings or walls.

Wiring should be protected by an electrical conduit from the moment that it leaves the breaker box. This conduit may be constructed of metal or plastic and may be rigid or flexible in design.

Conduits provide essential protection from possible penetration of the covering of the wiring from errant physical contact or rodents who may chew through it. The coating can also be compromised by exposure to heating systems. Fire or electrocution are possible risks associated with bare or damaged wiring.

Why take a chance with the safety of your home and family? Have your home inspected by a licensed electrician and let them do any repairs required to bring it up to safety codes. Delaware residents can count on Street Brothers Electric for professional work at fair prices.


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