There’s nothing more exciting than getting a brand new electrical appliance, from the latest new hairdryer to a fancy fridge-freezer with all the mod-cons.
However, electrical equipment does not last forever. Old and malfunctioning electrical equipment not only takes longer to work, but can be dangerous too.
One in eight house fires is caused by faulty electrical equipment, so it is important to look for signs that your appliances may start to cause problems.
This guide will let you know what to look out for when it is time to replace your equipment.
Cracked or damaged casing
Although many electrical appliances get the odd scratch and dent, cracked casing can cause an issue.
Cracked casing can expose the electrical wires/components in an appliance, increasing the risk of electric shock and fire damage. It can also expose dangerous working parts; for example, if you have a fan and the casing exposes the blades.
Once, we had to fail a microwave that the door had been pulled clean off of!
Cords and cables get damaged over time. Extreme temperatures, tugging, pulling and friction all cause tears, cracking and melting.
Damaged cords mean the wires inside the cord are exposed, increasing the risk of electric shock and fire.
If this is the case, the cable or the appliance will need to be replaced.
The thud of the washing machine, the ping of the microwave… all electrical appliances make noises as they carry out day-to-day tasks.
However, if you hear an unusual sound that wasn’t there before or is louder than normal, it could be a sign you need to replace your electrical equipment.
If you hear a buzzing, hissing or humming sound coming from the plug or appliance, this could indicate an electrical problem. Unplug the equipment at the mains and don’t use it until you get it checked out.
Is there an unusual smell in the home or office that won’t go away? This may mean there is an issue with your electrical equipment and it may be time to replace it.
If you catch a burnt plastic or fishy smell (this smell comes from the heat resistant chemicals used), this may mean something is overheating. Get in touch with an electrician straight away who will be able to find out where the smell is coming from.
If you’ve spotted that the lights flicker, blink and dim on your equipment, it could be a sign it needs replacing.
Flickering and blinking lights may mean your appliance is trying to use more electrical current than it can handle. Alternatively, there may be loose connections that could cause a fire risk.
Equipment hot to the touch
If your electrical equipment feels warm when you touch it, this could mean there is an issue.
The wiring in your appliance could be failing, generating heat that could pose a fire risk.
Higher energy bills
If you get a nasty shock when you open your electricity bill, it may mean your electrical equipment is faulty.
Damaged equipment needs to consume more electricity to function, resulting in a higher than normal bill.
When it becomes too expensive to keep repairing
Like a car, when your electrical equipment becomes uneconomical to repair, it’s probably time to replace it.
Older equipment relies on obsolete and hard-to-find parts, meaning it can be costly to keep it functional.
Don’t forget to dispose of your electrical equipment safely
Don’t throw old electrical equipment out with your waste collection. Not only is this potentially dangerous, but some parts may be able to be recycled.
You can safely dispose of electrical equipment at your local tip (household waste recycling centre) or through a bulky waste collection.
If you have bought a new piece of electrical equipment, the retailer you bought it from must provide a way for you to dispose of the equipment that it is replacing. This can either be by you taking it to their store or them taking it when they deliver your new equipment.
Not all issues with electrical equipment are visible
Although a damaged cord or cracked casing is a definite indication that something is wrong, some issues can be invisible. This is where electrical equipment (PAT) testing can help.
Electrical equipment testing will identify any problems hidden inside the equipment, meaning that you can get them fixed before they cause major issues.