Electrical box problems can potentially be quite dangerous, so it is very important to identify and repair any issues that develop. In many cases the average do-it-yourself homeowner will be able to fix the problem without the need for an electrician. However, it is important to remember that electric box problems can cause a great deal of damage, such as a fire, so it is crucial to make repairs properly. If you do not feel comfortable making the repair yourself, it is best to call a licensed electrician. Here is a list of some of the more common electrical box problems that you might encounter in your home.
Missing Cover Plates
Although this might seem like a minor issue, missing cover plates can sometimes cause unexpected problems. These covers are used to protect the wiring and should always be re-installed after work is performed on a junction box. Without a plate securely in place, a small rodent could enter the box, possibly chewing on the wiring. Since frayed wiring can easily cause an electrical fire, the easiest solution is to always keep cover plates securely installed.
Using Electrical Tape in Electrical Boxes
Although electrical tape is commonly used as a temporary fix when working on the wiring inside of an electrical box, it should never be considered to be the final solution. Over time, electrical tape will naturally deteriorate, which could result in bare wiring becoming exposed. Bare wiring inside an electrical box can be extremely dangerous, often resulting in a fire. Instead, always use electrical wire caps instead of tape.
Light Fixtures Installed Without a Junction Box
Occasionally you may find improperly installed light fixtures that do not include a junction box as part of the installation. Even if the wiring seems to be sound, this can be a very dangerous situation. Junction boxes serve as a barrier between the wires and flammable wall or ceiling materials such as drywall or wood. Without this barrier in place, the slightest spark or electrical arc could result in a fire. If you do find an improperly installed light fixture without a junction box, it should be removed. Then, once a junction box has been properly installed, the light fixture can be put back in place. If you do not feel comfortable installing a new junction box, calling a licensed electrician is always the best option.
Overcrowded Junction Boxes
It can be extremely common, especially in older homes, for junction boxes to become overcrowded. If new outlets, switches or fixtures have been installed over the years, there’s always a chance that they were simply tied in to the existing junction boxes. When there are too many wires inside an electrical box, the chance of overheating increases, which could potentially cause a fire. Although the amount of heat given off by one wire can be negligible, the existence of multiple wires can greatly increase the total amount of heat inside the box. If you discover a electrical box which controls more than two or three switches, fixtures or outlets, you should consult with an electrician to have additional boxes installed.