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When to make a service call

RJL Electrical

Serving Ottawa West & Surrounding Communities

Arnprior • Almonte • Barrhaven • Carp • Carleton Place • Dunrobin • Fitzroy Harbour • Kanata • Kemptville • Manotick • Merrickville • Mississippi Mills • Nepean • Osgoode • Pakenham • Perth • Smith’s Falls • Stittsville • Richmond

This is a list of 12 common electrical problems that we address on service calls. While some of these problems may appear to be a simple nuisance, many of them pose potential safety hazards. If you’re having problems with your electrical service or just want to add a new outlet RJL Electrical is happy to help. Our electricians have the skills and qualifications needed to determine the cause of any problems or to make any upgrades you require.

When to make a service call

damaged electrical wire


Dead outlets may be a sign that you have overloaded the circuit with too many appliances, or that your breaker panel has become old or damaged. If using the outlet trips the breaker, you will need to call a certified electrician to inspect the electrical panel and make any repairs or add additional circuits.

If the outlet appears stained black or brown you should not touch it; even if the other half of the outlet still works, you should call a certified electrician immediately to inspect the circuit and replace the outlet.

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Three-way switches allow one fixture (often an entryway or bedroom light) to be controlled by two switches. When one of the switches becomes faulty, the other will often continue to work, but the cause of the problem should be investigated. We have seen this occur when homeowners install their 3-way switches themselves or when a nail or screw has pierced the wiring for one of the switches. Pierced wires pose a safety risk and should be addressed by a qualified electrician immediately.

electrical hazard symbol


If your outlets are getting warm when connected to certain appliances you should stop using the receptacle immediately and contact an electrician. You should also check other receptacles in the room for heating or signs of burn marks. Faulty wiring is likely the problem – which can start a fire. We have the knowledge and equipment to diagnose your problem quickly and keep your family safe.

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If your recessed lights are turning off and then coming back on again, the likely cause is overheating. This problem is most common with fixtures equipped with halogen bulbs which burn at a higher temperature. If they get too hot, they will automatically switch off and turn back on again when they cool down. Make sure you are using the correct wattage bulbs.

If the bulbs are of the correct wattage and the problem persists, the insulation in the ceiling may be too close to the lamp, or your fixtures may have been installed without adequate clearance. You should call an RJL Electrician to investigate the source of the problem.

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Lights may go dim for an instant when certain appliances first come on. Refrigerators, air conditioners, power tools, and even vacuum cleaners draw a significant amount of electricity when they first switch on. This draw causes a sag in power to the rest of the house and can cause lights to dim temporarily or to flicker. These sags are followed by a very brief but large spike/surge in power that can be damaging to electronics and shorten the life of other appliances.

If you have expensive electronics or newer appliances that run off of circuit boards, consider having a surge protector installed right at the electrical panel.

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Flickering lights can occur from issues with the power grid, such as a downed line or problems elsewhere in the system. But if your lights continuously flicker, even after changing the bulbs, there may be a bad wiring connection or a damaged fixture. If your lights frequently flicker on windy days, frayed wiring may be creating a short in the electrical system. Frayed wiring is a potentially dangerous problem and should be checked by a certified electrician.

If the problem is occurring with fluorescent light tubes flickering, the fixture’s ballast is likely the cause and will need replacing.

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GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacles are the outlets found in your kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and on the exterior of your home. They have a small rectangular built-in circuit breaker on the faceplate. The Ontario Electrical Safety Code requires these outlets for power sources that are within 4-feet of any water source. If the GFCI receptacle doesn’t reset after tripping, you will need an electrician to inspect the outlet and wiring and possibly replace the receptacle.

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If you detect a strange smell coming from an outlet or a switch or a fixture stop using it immediately and call an electrician. Electrical arcing may be causing this odour. 

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Over time, the contacts in electrical outlets that grip the plug’s prongs can wear out. Loose or worn contacts can arc and easily ignite a fire behind the drywall. If you are having this problem, give us a call, and we can quickly replace the receptacle for you.

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Exposed wiring is a common problem with DIY renovations and other home improvement projects. Exposed wires can cause severe electrical shock and are a fire hazard. Wires must be spliced and covered according to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. All hanging wires should be supported or attached directly to structural framing. Give us a call and we can quickly clean-up even the messiest batches of wires to finish off your project and ensure that you keep your family and pets safe and your home up to code.

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There are several reasons your lights that your bulbs are burning out too often. The most common is that you are using too high a wattage bulb for the fixture. Try using a lower watt bulb to see if that rectifies the problem. If the problem persists, there may be bad wiring on the circuit or mains, or a dimmer switch may have too much total wattage on the circuit.

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If you have an octopus of wires and cords coming out of your receptacle you have a potentially dangerous situation. If this is the case in your home, give us a call at 613-612-8417, and we will be happy to install an additional receptacle and a new circuit if required, allowing you to enjoy your entertainment centre or work area safely.

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