10 Commonly Asked Electrical Questions

As a homeowner or business owner, it is essential to have some knowledge of your electrical system. Below are the 10 most commonly asked electrical questions and our professional answers to each of them!


10 Commonly Asked Electrical Questions

When it comes to electrical issues at your home or business, you are essentially down to two options: look up the potential problems and solutions online or get in touch with a reliable local electrician to handle them. In either case, you may have questions we can quickly answer before you call and schedule your electrical service with our professionals.

*We always encourage homeowners and business owners to call a professional when it comes to handling any type of electrical issue as it can be very dangerous. 

1. Why Aren’t My Electrical Sockets Switching On?

One common reason for an electrical outlet to abruptly stop working is the activation of a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). This protective device is specifically designed to detect abnormal electrical conditions and automatically shut off power to the outlet. It serves as a crucial safety mechanism, preventing potential electric shocks or fire hazards. The GFCI breaker is programmed to trip if it senses excessive power flowing through your system or if electricity is mistakenly channeled in the incorrect way. When the GFCI trips, it interrupts the electrical circuit, rendering the outlet inoperable. To resolve the issue, it is essential to investigate the fuse box and breaker boxes in your home. Inspecting these components can help identify if any fuses or breakers have been tripped and require resetting or replacing. Taking the time to troubleshoot and rectify the situation ensures the safety and functionality of your electrical system.

2. Why do the Electrical Systems in My Older Building or Home Require Upgrading?

Outdated commercial and residential buildings are ill-equipped to meet the electrical demands of modern appliances and devices. It is crucial to exercise caution and avoid pushing the limits of your electrical system, as the consequences can be catastrophic. Overloading a circuit has the potential to cause overheating and, in extreme cases, even ignite a fire. Unfortunately, relying on an old circuit breaker offers little protection in such scenarios.

Many single-family homes that were wired over a century ago may not meet today’s electrical standards. The electrical infrastructure of these older properties often struggles to cope with the power requirements of contemporary equipment like multiple desktop computers, dishwashers, or vacuum cleaners. Upgrading your home’s electrical wiring provides numerous benefits, whether you plan to sell the property or continue living in it.

3. What is a Short Circuit, and What is Tripping My Circuit Breaker?

Dealing with short circuits is a common challenge faced by electricians. To put it simply, a short circuit occurs when a live wire comes into contact with a grounded wire. Accidentally touching a grounded wire can lead to sparks, explosions, or overheating, as the electrical current seeks an alternative path away from the path of least resistance.

If you have already reset the breaker and the circuit continues to trip, it may indicate a more serious issue that necessitates the expertise of a professional electrician. In our experience, a power-hungry appliance is often the culprit behind a tripped circuit breaker. During winter months, space heaters tend to be a frequent offender, while in summer, it could be an air conditioner or even a hair dryer.

However, there are cases where a simple solution involves increasing the rating of a consistently strained circuit. For example, if a 15-amp circuit breaker consistently trips, upgrading it to a 20-amp breaker may be necessary. It is important to note that only a licensed electrician should undertake modifications to electrical wiring and circuitry to ensure safety and compliance.

4. Why Do My Light Bulbs Keep Burning Out?

Repeated burnouts of light bulbs can occur due to various factors, with overheating being a significant concern. Aside from the inconvenience of constantly replacing bulbs, there is also a potential risk of fire associated with this issue. To address this problem, it is recommended to have an electrician inspect your lighting fixtures. Additionally, if you notice flashing lights and are using non-LED bulbs, it could indicate poor connections or faulty wiring. Loose components such as sockets, wiring, or panels are often the culprits behind flickering lights in such cases. However, if you are using LED bulbs and experiencing flickering lights, the bulbs themselves may be to blame, especially if they are lower-priced options. In such situations, considering higher-quality LED bulbs might help alleviate the issue. Consulting an electrician can provide further guidance and ensure the safety and proper functioning of your lighting system.

5. How Can I Tell If My Breaker Panel Is Faulty?

Determining if your breaker panel is faulty requires a physical inspection, but certain warning signs can prompt further investigation. If you detect a burning odor, notice a warm panel surface, or observe melted areas or frayed wires, these are indications of a potential malfunctioning panel that should not be ignored. It’s important to note that older electrical panels, such as those made by Federal Pacific Electrical and Zinsco, have a high failure rate and are considered unsafe for modern businesses. Even if you haven’t encountered any issues yet, it is highly advisable to prioritize replacing these panels to mitigate potential risks. Consulting with a professional electrician is crucial for a thorough evaluation and to take appropriate steps for panel replacement, ensuring the safety and reliability of your electrical system.

6. Should I be Concerned About Non-functioning Electrical Outlets?

If you have concerns about non-functioning electrical outlets, there are steps you can take to assess the situation. Begin by conducting a simple test using a lamp in the outlet to check if it functions. Additionally, activate all the lights by toggling the corresponding switches, as some outlets may be controlled by a wall switch. If no nearby switch appears to control the outlet, inspect other outlets and lights in the vicinity to see if they are also not working.

Next, examine the electrical panel for any tripped circuit breakers. If you find a tripped breaker, it needs to be reset. However, if the outlet remains non-functional even after trying different wall switches and resetting the circuit breaker, it is advisable to contact an electrician, as there may be a potential systemic short in the electrical system.

It is worth noting that the activation of a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is a common cause of sudden outlet failure. The GFCI breaker will trip if there is an excessive flow of electricity in the system or if the electrical current is incorrectly redirected. To investigate further, check the fuses and breakers to determine if any adjustments need to be made.

Taking these steps can help diagnose the issue with non-functioning outlets and ensure the safety and proper functioning of your electrical system. If in doubt, consulting a professional electrician is always recommended.

7. How Come My Light Switch Is Warm?

If you notice that your light switch feels warm to the touch when you go to turn it off, it is an alarming sign of a significant problem that should not be ignored. The warmth could be an indication of overloading, where the switch is handling more electrical load than it can safely manage, or it could point to a faulty or damaged switch. Regardless of the specific cause, immediate action is necessary to address this issue, as the elevated temperature poses a potential fire hazard. It is essential to contact residential and commercial electrical services promptly to have the problem diagnosed and resolved by professional electricians. With their expertise, they can identify the root cause of the issue and undertake the necessary repairs or replacements to ensure the safety and proper functioning of your electrical system.

8. Is My Electrical System Safe?

Ensuring the safety of your loved ones and belongings is undoubtedly a top priority. One effective way to achieve peace of mind is by scheduling regular inspections with an electrician to assess the condition of your electrical system. Even if everything appears to be functioning well on the surface, it is impossible to guarantee the integrity of the wiring and pathways concealed behind the walls of your home. Unwanted pests such as mice and roaches may find refuge in these areas, potentially causing electrical issues. By prioritizing regular checks and maintenance of your electrical system, you can mitigate potential risks and maintain a safe and reliable electrical infrastructure.

9. Why Is My Electrical Bill So High?

When you experience an unexpectedly high electricity bill, it’s important to explore the potential factors contributing to the increase. Careless habits like leaving lights on in unoccupied rooms and excessive usage of energy-intensive appliances can lead to significant energy wastage and higher costs. Additionally, outdated appliances may consume more power compared to newer, energy-efficient models. Seasonal variations, such as increased air conditioning usage in summer or electric heating in winter, can also impact energy consumption. It’s worth checking for any issues with your electrical system, such as faulty wiring or malfunctioning meters. By adopting energy-saving practices, using efficient devices, and maintaining your electrical system, you can gain better control over your electricity costs and promote sustainable energy consumption.

10. When Should I Get in Touch with Reliable Electricians in My Area?

You should reach out to reliable electricians in your area whenever you encounter electrical issues or require professional assistance. Whether you’re facing a sudden power outage, experiencing electrical malfunctions, or planning electrical installations or upgrades, it’s crucial to seek the expertise of trusted professionals. In Central Illinois, C-U Trade Services is the go-to electrical company renowned for their reliable and efficient services. Don’t hesitate to contact C-U Trade Services for all your residential or commercial electrical needs in Central Illinois. Their experienced team is ready to provide excellent solutions and ensure the safety and functionality of your electrical systems. Call C-U Trade Services today and experience their exceptional service firsthand.


Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.



1153 County Road 1200 East
Champaign, IL 61822


500 N. Pine
Onarga, IL 60955


511 East Main Street
Danville, Illinois 61832







Sign- Up Here

Plumbing License: