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Electrician Questions

Power Off to the Entire Home or Half the Home

This issue might be due to a main circuit breaker in the main service panel becoming worn out or defective. Over time, the main circuit breaker can deteriorate, losing its ability to function correctly. Another potential cause is a problem with the main power line feeding into your home, which could be overhead or underground. It’s often advisable to contact your utility company first to see if the problem is on their end, as they are usually responsible for the main power lines, and their services might be accessible for such inspections. If the issue lies with the main circuit breaker, replacing it can often resolve the problem. However, if the metal bus bar, into which the circuit breaker plugs, is damaged, it may necessitate replacing the entire electrical service panel.

Power Off to a Portion of the Home

This situation is commonly caused by a circuit breaker in the electrical panel tripping due to a short circuit or an overload. Often, simply resetting the circuit breaker can restore power. However, sometimes, a circuit breaker might trip without visibly moving to the ‘off’ position. Other potential causes for power loss in part of the home include loose electrical connections, a tripped Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacle, or wires that have been accidentally cut.

Tripping GFCI Outlets

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets are designed to quickly shut off power if they detect a ground fault, which can help prevent serious injuries. Unlike standard outlets, GFCI outlets do not protect against overloads, short circuits, or shocks. A GFCI outlet can defend itself and potentially other outlets downstream if wired to do so. Appliances plugged into standard outlets far from the GFCI outlet can sometimes cause it to trip. Troubleshooting to identify the specific appliance causing the trip is necessary. Other causes include external receptacles getting wet, faulty appliances like refrigerators or pond pumps, or devices like hair dryers causing electricity to leak to the ground. Miswiring of GFCI outlets can also lead to improper functioning.

No Power to Receptacles (Plugs) or Lights

Intermittent power or flickering lights and outlets are typically due to one of two common problems. First, a loose wire connection at an outlet may prevent power from feeding through to the rest of the circuit. The problematic connection might be at an outlet that still works but fails to transmit power downstream. Second, a circuit breaker might malfunction, wear out, or not correctly connect to the electrical panel’s bus bar.

Fluorescent Lighting Issues

If fluorescent lights are dim, slow to turn on, flickering, or not working, the ballast in the light fixture might be failing. Replacing the ballast with a newer, energy-efficient model compatible with current fluorescent tubes is recommended. Alternatively, installing LED tubes that fit the same sockets is an option, although removing or replacing the ballast may still be necessary.

Flickering Lighting or Recessed Lighting

Flickering lights or recessed lighting can be caused by loose electrical connections, poor connection at the circuit breaker, improper lamp wattage, or using a lamp type incompatible with a dimmer switch.

No Power to Lights

Burnt-out lamps, loose wiring connections, defective switches or dimmers, or a tripped circuit breaker are common reasons for lights not working.

Burning Smell from Switch or Receptacle (Plug)

A burning smell from a switch or receptacle is usually due to loose connections. Loose connections can create resistance, leading to overheating and a burning smell.

Burning Smell or Smoke from Low Voltage Recessed Light Fixture

This issue may be due to loose connections at the 12-volt transformer in the recessed light fixture. Loose connections can overheat, causing smoke or a burning smell.

Electric Clothes Dryer Tripping Circuit Breaker

If your electric clothes dryer trips the circuit breaker, possible causes include a worn circuit breaker, loose connections at the receptacle, a defective receptacle, or a defective dryer.

The Electric Range or Cooktop Not Working

Possible causes for an electric range or cooktop not working include a worn circuit breaker, loose connections at the receptacle or junction box, a defective receptacle, or a defective appliance.

Garbage Disposal Not Working

If your garbage disposal isn’t working, check if the overload switch or red push button at the bottom needs to reset. Other potential issues include a loose electrical cord, a defective switch, loose connections, a tripped circuit breaker, a tripped GFCI outlet, or a defective disposal unit.

Dishwasher Not Working

Common reasons for a dishwasher not working include the power cord not being plugged in, loose wire connections, a tripped circuit breaker, or a defective dishwasher.

Spa Not Working

If your spa isn’t working, potential causes include a tripped circuit breaker in the main panel, a tripped GFCI circuit breaker in the safety disconnect near the spa, loose wiring, a defective spa, or a heater causing the GFCI circuit breaker to trip.

Forced Air Unit (Heater) Not Working

A forced air unit not working can be due to it being unplugged, a tripped circuit breaker, a thermostat needing reset or replacement, or a defective component within the unit.

Air Conditioning Condenser Outside / AC Not Working

If your air conditioning condenser or AC isn’t working, check for a tripped circuit breaker in the electrical panel, blown fuses in the disconnect switch adjacent to the unit, loose wiring, a thermostat needing adjustment, a defective thermostat, or a faulty component within the AC unit.

Smoke Detectors/Alarms Chirping

Chirping smoke detectors or alarms usually indicate that the batteries need replacing or that the units themselves need to be replaced.

Exterior Standard Voltage Lighting Not Working

Exterior standard-voltage lighting that is not working could be caused by burnt-out lamps, a defective switch, an improperly set or defective timer, a defective photocell control, loose wire connections, a tripped circuit breaker, or defective light fixtures.

Exterior Low Voltage Lighting Fixtures Not Working

For exterior low-voltage lighting fixtures, issues might include a non-functioning receptacle that the transformer is plugged into, a tripped GFCI, a defective wall switch, a defective transformer, a defective timer in the transformer, cut or loose low-voltage wiring, or light fixture sockets or lamps needing replacement.

Important Safety Note

The problems and solutions listed above are only a partial list of common electrical issues in a home. These causes are just some of the possible problems leading to these symptoms. It is crucial to have a qualified, licensed, and certified electrician diagnose and correct any electrical issues.

Snapper Electric offers trusted, licensed electricians ready to help you quickly with any electrical issues you may encounter. Call us for a free consultation regarding any electrical concerns.

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