Common Household Electrical Problems


Your home’s electrical system uses high-voltage wiring to power appliances, lights and electronics throughout your home. If you experience an issue with your electrical system, it can be difficult to determine the cause or solution. Here are some basic troubleshooting steps to restore your electrical appliances and stay safe. Consider joining an electrical program near you for more information and expert raining.

What Are the Most Household Electrical Problems?

These are the most common issues homeowners face. Whether you’re just moved into a new home or you’re finally tackling home improvement projects around your house, here are some common issues that you may be dealing with:

  • Light switches not working: If your light switch doesn’t turn on a light or fan, there are a few common causes. First, check to see if your lightbulb is burnt out or your breaker is tripped. If not, the issue could be faulty wiring or a damaged light switch.
  • Unusual power surges: Power surges are signs that your breaker or wiring isn’t equipped to handle your power load. You may have too many appliances and electronics plugged into a single breaker or you may have low-gauge wiring.
  • Outlet not working: The most common cause of a faulty outlet is a tripped breaker or GFCI outlet. Reset both the breaker and, if applicable, the GFCI. Otherwise, you may need a new outlet installed.
  • Expensive energy bill: High energy bills are typically caused by inefficient lighting, hot water heater issues or power surges. It could be a sign of inefficient appliances or a more serious electrical issue.
  • Burnt-out lightbulb: A burnt-out bulb is a common and easy maintenance task. However, if your bulbs continue to burn out quickly, it may be a sign of another issue. It may be caused by incorrect wattage, a dimmer switch or bad wiring.
Light Switches Not Working
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Power Surge
Breaker or Wiring isn't equipped to Handle Your Load.
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These household electrical issues range from harmless to hazardous. It can be difficult to determine whether you can solve the problem on your own or you need to contact a professional electrician. Compare problems that you can solve with problems that require electrical experience to safely solve.

Which Problems Can I Solve?

These common electrical issues in your home are easy to solve. Be cautious when working around electricity, particularly your breaker box. Here are problems that can typically be solved on your own:

  • Replacing a lightbulb: The most common causes of a burnt-out lightbulb are an old bulb and a bulb with the wrong wattage. Both of these issues are easy for homeowners to solve. Fix dimming lights or burnt-out bulbs by swapping them out. Simply purchase a new lightbulb with the correct wattage for your light fixture and replace it.
  • Reducing your energy bill: Some energy issues are simply caused by inefficient appliances and lighting. Switch to LED lightbulbs, turn down your hot water heater and look for energy-efficient appliances to reduce your electricity use.
  • Resetting a breaker: A poor connection can cause a breaker to trip. This will prevent your outlet or light fixture from working. Simply find the correct breaker in your breaker box and reset it. If the breaker immediately trips again, it’s a sign of a more serious issue.

There are a few warning signs that you should look out for. First, don’t attempt to reset a breaker if you hear popping or crackling around your breaker box. If a light fixture, outlet or other electrical device sparks and pops, don’t attempt to touch it. These issues are best left to an experienced electrician or handled after you’ve received professional training.


Do I Need To Call an Electrician?

Not all problems are easy to solve for a DIY homeowner. Here are some common household issues that are best left to the professionals. Work with an experienced electrician or learn more about electrical repairs before you attempt to fix these issues:

  • Hot outlets: An outlet or outlet cover that heats up is typically hiding a serious electrical issue. It’s usually caused by an electrical surge or a low-gauge wire.
  • Loose outlets: A wobbly outlet is a sign of poor installation. Your outlet may need a completely new box, which means removing and rewiring your outlet.
  • Burning smells: Burning smells around your electrical wiring is a sure sign of trouble. This is typically caused by a short in the wire. Either the plastic coating is melting or a particularly hot wire is causing your insulation or another material to heat up.
  • Popping sounds: Popping sounds and sparks are signs of improper wiring. Whether an electrical surge or an electrical short, both are bad news.

These issues require electrical tools and experience. You’ll need to work with wires and ensure they are the correct gauge and correctly installed. While you can learn these skills, they require expert guidance and hands-on training before you should tackle these projects in your own home.

What are Some Safety Steps?

The best way to prevent dead outlets, warm switches and circuit breaker issues is to use electrical safety. Keep your home safe by keeping your electrical system maintained and routinely inspecting it for signs of serious issues.

It’s important to use surge protectors for your appliances and electronics. A surge protector is a great way to avoid the risk of electrical shock or damage to your electronics. You can pick up a surge protector power strip, but be sure you don’t connect too many devices to a single outlet.

Where Can I Learn More About Fixing Electrical Problems?

If you’re interested in learning more about electrical repairs and safety, look for electrical programs in Chicago. Apply online at Coyne College for hands-on, in-depth training in electrical construction and maintenance courses.

Everything You Need to Know About HVAC


To build a successful career as an HVAC technician, there is a lot you need to know. Luckily, you’ve come to the right place for a rundown of the skills and knowledge you’ll need to succeed. We’ll get started with the obvious ones and move down the list to other things you might not expect.


As an HVAC technician, you’ll need to know the ins and outs of working on a furnace. This includes the pilot light and other components that are key to a furnace heating a home.


Vents carry hot and cold air throughout a home and heat or cool it centrally. Vents also carry air back into HVAC systems to continue heating or cooling the area.

Air Conditioning

Air conditioning is the other half of many HVAC systems, especially in homes. Whether you’re working on a window unit in an apartment or the other half of an AC/furnace combo, a working knowledge of air conditioners is crucial for you to succeed.


Refrigeration systems are often included with HVAC work. HVAC technicians take calls to work on everything from commercial coolers to refrigerators in homes.


Installing HVAC systems is one of the biggest duties HVAC technicians take on. In order to install furnaces and air conditioners properly, you need to know how they function inside and out.


Coyne’s knowledgeable instructors will teach you the trade in a course program you can finish in as little as 42 weeks. With hard work and dedication, you can be ready to enter an in-demand field upon graduation.

Don’t wait. The next session starts 01/06.

To enroll or learn more, visit or call 800-720-3990 today!

Learn How HVAC Systems Work

How HVAC Systems Work

If you want to learn how to become an HVAC technician, you’ve come to the right place. Coyne College’s HVAC Refrigeration program will help prepare you for a career in an in-demand profession.

Before we dive into how you can learn all about how HVAC systems work by enrolling in Coyne College’s HVAC Refrigeration program, let’s refresh our memories on what HVAC technicians do.

HVAC technicians are widely skilled trades workers in terms of the skills they use on the job each day.

An HVAC technician’s main duties include installing, maintaining and repairing various indoor climate control systems like furnaces and air conditioners. Each of those tasks is more complex than can be described in this post (that’s where Coyne’s program comes in). Installation, for example, can require HVAC technicians to use some or ALL of these skills:

  • Reading blueprints
  • Testing electrical components 
  • Testing tubing and piping 
  • Using power tools 
  • Providing great customer service
  • And more! 

In addition to possessing a variety of skills, HVAC technicians can work in a variety of settings. Such work environments include:

  • Homes
  • Schools
  • Factories
  • Office Buildings

Any building that needs heating or air conditioning, whether it’s residential or commercial, has been visited at some point by an HVAC technician.

HVAC System Works

Their work helps HVAC systems work as well as they can, increasing the quality of life for the building’s occupants. They also help people and companies save money on their electric or natural gas bills, as well as reducing the effect of heating and cooling on the environment. 

As mentioned in the open, now is a good time to be getting into the HVAC field. The HVAC technician employment rate is projected to grow by 13 percent through 2028. The continued construction of building and an increased prevalence of service contracts, especially during slow seasons, are reasons for the strong growth rate. 

The BLS suggests that the workload for technicians who focus on installation, especially of newer, greener systems, may experience periods of unemployment after initial installation booms. However, service contracts are becoming more common and will help technicians stay working during down periods.

As more and more people continue to need refrigerators, heating systems and air conditioners, the employment future for HVAC technicians should remain healthy.

There are a number of certifications that HVAC technicians can earn that showcase mastery of additional skills. For example, HVAC technicians who work with refrigerants are required to pass an exam administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Certifications help make technicians more marketable to contractors and other potential employers. 

Before achieving such certifications, most HVAC technicians begin by enrolling in an HVAC training program like the one at Coyne College. HVAC training programs are gaining popularity due to the demand for qualified HVAC professionals. 

Speaking of such programs, let’s get to what you can learn as a student in Coyne College’s HVAC Refrigeration program. 

Coyne College is a career training institution in Chicago and Chicagoland with a rich history of preparing skilled trades workers to back it up. For more than 110 years, Coyne has offered programs like its HVAC Refrigeration diploma program to set students up for career success.  

Coyne College’s HVAC-R program will prepare you to perform the essential functions of an HVAC-R technician, including installing, maintaining and repairing HVAC-R systems in a multitude of settings.

In our program, you gain an in-depth understanding of how HVAC systems work. Our curriculum features instruction on the parts of HVAC systems to help you know them inside and out. 

Our experienced instructors will cover HVAC basics with the goal of you understanding HVAC to build a foundation from which to launch your career

In Coyne College’s HVAC program, you will gain the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in the HVAC profession. Some of the required courses in the program’s curriculum include:

  • Gas Heating
  • Commercial Controls and Applications
  • Troubleshooting Systems and Installation
  • Air Conditioning, Electric Heat and Heat Pumps
  • And more!

In the program, you will become well versed in the intricacies of HVAC by learning from experienced instructors who have significant experience in the field. At the end of the HVAC-R program, you will be ready to enter the workforce as an HVAC-R technician and do things like fixing a heating system and performing air conditioning unit repairs.

Our HVAC program is available both during days and at nights to accommodate your busy schedule. The program can be completed in as few as 42 weeks and is offered at our Chicago Loop campus at State and Madison.

At Coyne College, support goes beyond the classroom. As a student, you’ll have the opportunity to take advantage of career assistance resources, including mock interviews and resume help. These resources can help students secure apprenticeships after completing the program.

You’ll also have the chance to take advantage of our extensive network of connections in the field that can help you find employment at the conclusion of their training programs.

At Coyne College, you’ll receive a well-rounded education that will serve as the foundation of your skilled trade career. 

What do you say — are you ready to get to work? Heat up your career at Coyne College by visiting  


Must-know Tips for DIY Electrical Wiring and Switching

DIY Electrical Wiring

People take on DIY projects in their own homes for a number of reasons. Whether they want to save money, feel more independent or enjoy fixing things themselves, any DIY project requires some basic know-how to be done properly. Installing or replacing electrical switches and wiring is no exception. These DIY Electrical Wiring tips can help make the process of installing electrical wires and switches a breeze, especially for a DIYer.

Have the right tools handy

Like any other DIY job, you want to make sure you have the right tools to do the job. They can include a multimeter, a non-contact voltage detector (tests the heat of wire without touching it) and a combination sheath and wire stripper. Being equipped with the right tools will help you be prepared for anything throughout the electrical switch wiring process.

Know your wires

When connecting electrical wiring to an outlet, it’s important to not confuse your wires or put them in the wrong terminal. The white wire is the neutral wire and goes into the neutral terminal, which is marked by silver/light-colored screws. The black wire, on the other hand, is the hot wire and goes into the hot terminal, the one opposite the neutral terminal. If there’s a ground wire, it will be a copper wire held in place by a screw on the same side as the neutral terminal.

Knowing the difference between the wires will allow you to wire your home correctly and avoid the high voltage of swapping the neutral and hot.

Three-inch rule

It’s always better to have too much wire than not enough. There are wire extensions available if you end up cutting them short, but the wiring will work better if it is intact.

As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to have wiring that is long enough to extend 3 inches outside of the electrical box.

Hide gaps in drywall with oversized plates

When you’re installing electrical switches, it’s pretty easy to cut a hole in the drywall that is too big. Thankfully, there are oversized plates available at hardware stores that you can use to cover your switches.

They are typically in sizes up to 3/4 inch wider and longer than regular switch plates. Most people won’t be able to tell the difference, unless they’re professional electricians or fellow DIYers.

Quality switches and outlets are worth it

While it might be tempting to scrimp on some supplies as a DIYer, electrical switches and outlets aren’t one of them. They tend to be only slightly more expensive, but also last longer. A good way to tell a quality switch or outlet is by the presence of a back-wire feature.

Quality switches and outlets are worth it

Test the voltage

Be sure to test the voltage of wires and circuits before touching them. Testing electrical components with tools such as a wire sniffer or a multimeter will tell you if they are safe to touch or if an electrical current is flowing through them. Electrical work can be a dangerous job, especially if you’re unsure about what you’re doing. Always test before touching.

Do proper research

In today’s age of the internet, you can learn how to do anything online. For that reason, there’s no excuse not to do your homework before installing electrical wiring and switching in your home.

Searching for tutorials on how to wire a light switch is a great way to learn more about how to do it. On YouTube there are countless tutorials on DIY Electrical Wiring, from electricians and home improvement pros available that literally show you how it’s done.

Get an education

As great as internet learning is, it does have its limitations, and it’s no substitute for a trade school program. Learning how to do electrical work in an educational setting is the best way to ensure you know what you’re doing in home DIY electrical wiring.

What’s more, you can also make a career of electrical work. Electrical education programs are readily available at trade schools across the country. If you’re in Chicagoland, Coyne College is a great option.

Get an Electrical education

Spark your career at Coyne College

Coyne College in Chicago offers two programs for aspiring electrical workers: Electrical Construction and Planning, and Electrical Construction Maintenance.

Our Electrical Construction and Planning program can be completed in as few as 78 weeks, while the Electrical Construction and Maintenance program can be finished in 42 to 56 weeks, depending on whether you take day or night classes.

As a student in Coyne College’s electrical programs, you will gain a comprehensive knowledge of electrical work by taking courses such as:

  •     Electrical and Electronic Principles
  •     Electrical Test and Equipment Safety
  •     Electrical Construction – Residential
  •     Electrical Theory and Applications

You will learn the ins and outs of the electrician trade in a setting that focuses on your individual success. Coyne College’s highly knowledgeable instructors have years of real-world experience under their belts and are eager to help you make the most of your education.

Discover everything Coyne College’s electrical programs have to offer by visiting or calling 800-720-3990 today.

Alumni Spotlight: Walter Arzet – HVAC

Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning

Walter Arzet exercised due diligence before deciding to go into the Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning industry. It paid off, though, because he found his true passion – and lifelong career.

Arzet, a 1986 graduate of Coyne College in Chicago, was undecided about what to do after high school. “I talked to people, and I went to the schools: three different schools, three different trades,” he says. “You want to get to the source of why people are doing it or don’t want to do it.” That meant talking to people who were working in the field before enrolling in Coyne’s HVAC program.

Read moreAlumni Spotlight: Walter Arzet – HVAC

Electrical Safety Checklist for Your Home

Electrical Safety Checklist

Electricity in homes has become fairly essential to our everyday lives. For all of its advantages and capabilities, electricity in the home can be quite dangerous. Many dangers relating to electricity in homes are related to the potential for it to start fires. That’s why it’s crucial to take the proper safety precautions. Using this electrical safety checklist can help protect your home, your family and yourself while reaping the benefits of electricity and everything it powers.

Make sure your alarms are working properly

As noted earlier, fires are perhaps the biggest threat electricity poses to your home. That being said, smoke alarms are essential to your home’s fire safety. Make sure your smoke alarms have healthy batteries and replace them if necessary. It’s also a good idea to test them once a month and change the batteries every six months, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

Use surge protectors

If you’re not doing so already, you should use a surge protector to connect various appliances to their power outlet. The surge protector keeps your appliances safe by diverting excess voltage to the outlet’s grounding wire in the event of a power surge, as is the case of lightning striking a power line. Surge protector power strips also allow you to plug more than a single device into an outlet. It’s important to not overdo it, though.

Check cords, outlets and light bulbs for damage

Frayed electrical cords are major fire hazards. Take a look at any extension cords you may be using to ensure they are working and not damaged. While inspecting extension and appliance cords, be sure to note the condition of your home’s outlets as well. You’ll also want to make sure the cords aren’t exposed to any water, which is also a safety hazard. Check all the light bulbs in your home, too, and double-check that they’re the right wattage.

Check Bulbs Electrical Safety

Replace filters

One of the primary causes for reduced circulation in a house is a dirty air filter. Restricted airflow results in your heater or air conditioner having to work harder to heat or cool your house. The harder or more often they run, the more you’ll be paying for them on your electric bill. You’ll also want to clean or replace the filters on your refrigerator and range exhaust hood. Cleaning your dryer duct is crucial as well, as it’s very easy for too much lint to catch fire.

Check your appliances

Conduct an inspection of your home’s appliances to make sure they’re all working correctly. Ones that aren’t functioning properly or won’t turn on could be an indication of faulty electrical components. There may also be dust or debris that is hindering their function, as is commonly the case with refrigerators and dusty refrigerator coils. You’ll also want to unplug any appliances that aren’t being used. Not only will it reduce the likelihood of an electrical fire, but it’ll also cut down your electric bill.

Schedule an inspection

When in doubt, have a pro check it out. If you’re uncertain about the state of your home’s electrical wiring, don’t hesitate to have a professional electrician perform an inspection. They are able to tell you if everything is running smoothly and if there is a problem, they can help you fix it sooner rather than later. Sometimes early detection can be the difference between a simple inexpensive fix and a costly home repair.

Electrician Inspection for Home

These tips can go a long way toward making your home safer and prevent electrical fires.

How would you like to help keep families and homes safe by using electrical skills and knowledge to conduct inspections? At Coyne College in Chicago, you can train to become a field-ready electrician.

At Coyne College in Chicago, you can choose from two electrical work training programs: Electrical Construction and Planning and Electrical Construction and Maintenance. In either program, you’ll learn the essentials of electrical work in a setting dedicated to your individual success. Coyne College’s highly knowledgeable instructors have years of practical, real-world experience and are eager to help you make the most of your education.

As a student in Coyne College’s electrician programs, you’ll gain comprehensive knowledge about relevant subjects, such as, such as:

  •      Electrical and Electronic Principles
  •      Electrical Test and Equipment Safety
  •      Electrical Construction – Residential
  •      Electrical Theory and Applications

In addition to flexibility and quality instruction, Coyne College’s career services department can help you with job placement, including apprenticeships. Coyne College has more than 120 years of experience in helping transform students with dreams into qualified, skilled trade professionals. With day and night options available at our Chicago Loop campus, we’re committed to helping you fit a skilled trades education into even the busiest of schedules.

Discover everything Coyne College has to offer and begin your journey to a new career today by logging on to or call us at 800-720-3990.

HVAC Technician Career Facts and Forecast

HVAC Technician Career

An HVAC technician career is important as there’s no getting around the fact that people need HVAC systems to maintain comfortable environments indoors. This means talented individuals who work on HVAC systems, HVAC technicians, are and will continue to be important members of the labor force. Here are some quick facts about HVAC technicians and some insight as to what the future holds for the profession.

At Coyne College in Chicago, you can earn a HVAC-R diploma in less than a year. At the end of the program, you’ll be equipped with the technical skills and knowledge to begin your career in the HVAC industry thanks to our knowledgeable instructors. To learn more about all Coyne College has to offer, visit us at

HVAC Technician Career Facts Coyne College

5 Common HVAC Issues in Chicago

HVAC Issues Chicago

As with other home appliances, HVAC systems are not immune to problems over their lives. Some problems you may experience are more common than others. There are some that are minor, which you may be able to troubleshoot yourself, while others may require major repairs or even replacement after having a professional HVAC technician perform an inspection. Here are some of the most common issues people in Chicagoland experience with their HVAC systems, along with some possible solutions.

Impaired airflow

If you’re not feeling enough hot or cool air coming through your vents, there’s likely something that is blocking it. One of those things could be a dirty filter. Make sure to change your filter in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines or every three months. If you have a reusable filter, be sure to wash it regularly, about every three months or so, depending on the amount of dust in your home. You’ll also want to make sure all of the registers are open. If they’re not, the air won’t be able to circulate into rooms and back through to your HVAC system.

Running too much or not enough

If your HVAC system is running too much or not enough, this may indicate a problem.If it’s running too much, you could be experiencing a dirty filter that needs to be washed or replaced. There might also be dust or debris in your vents that is preventing the air from heating or cooling rooms. An HVAC system that is running too much isn’t good for your wallet, as it will increase your electric bill.

A furnace or air conditioner that is not running enough is likely a problem with the unit if the thermostat is working properly. In that case, it’s a good idea to call an HVAC technician to take a look and evaluate the situation before determining the best course of action. Their expertise can help resolve issues of inconsistent temperature in your home.

HVAC Furnace

Pilot light burning yellow

Your pilot light should always burn blue. If it is burning yellow or another color besides blue, you have a problem. Yellow is the color you have to watch for, as it’s an indication that the flame is contaminated by carbon monoxide. You should have an experienced HVAC professional come to your home to troubleshoot the issue. It’s also vital that you find the source of the carbon monoxide immediately.

Problems with thermostat

If you’re having trouble with your thermostat, there are some basic steps you can take to troubleshoot the problem. The first thing you’ll want to do is check that it’s sufficiently powered. If it runs on batteries, try replacing the batteries. Most modern thermostats are connected to the electrical wiring of the building, so you’ll want to check the status of the breaker it’s connected to if that’s the case. If it’s on and running, make sure the settings are adjusted appropriately to your liking and nothing is askew. If issues persist, you’ll need to have an HVAC technician troubleshoot the problem.

HVAC Thermostat System

Excess water

The presence of excess water in or around your furnace or air conditioner is never a good sign. It’s typically an indication of a crack in the pipe that runs off the condensation into the ground. Water inside your HVAC unit is arguably worse, as the water can damage other parts of the system and can indicate a need to replace the coolant and the unit as a whole.

Would you like to make a career of troubleshooting issues with HVAC systems? With a certificate in HVAC Refrigeration from Coyne College in Chicago, you can make that dream a reality.

Learn Heating and Cooling at Coyne College

Coyne College’s HVAC-R program is designed to teach you the skills and knowledge you need to begin your career as an HVAC technician. As a student in Coyne’s program, you will actively engage in learning the finer points of the occupation. Some of the classes in the HVAC-R curriculum include:

  • Introduction to Mechanical Refrigeration Systems
  • Air Conditioning, Electric Heat and Heat Pumps
  • Introduction to Commercial Controls
  • Gas Heating
  • And more!

You’ll get a mix of textbook and hands-on learning from instructors who have valuable experience in the HVAC field. They’ll teach you the whys and the hows of HVAC work to ensure you have a comprehensive understanding by the time you graduate.

Coyne College has more than 120 years of experience helping aspiring skilled trade professionals in Chicago build the foundation of their careers. With day and night class options available at our Chicago Loop campus, we do our best to help you fit a skilled trades education into your schedule.

To schedule a visit, contact an advisor or request more information about the program, call 800-720-3990 or visit

HVAC-R Program Alumni Spotlight: Rafael Cardenas Jr.

HVAC-R Program

HVAC-R graduate Rafael Cardenas Jr. speaks on his experience at Coyne College and provides advice to prospective students. If you like working with your hands, have a mechanical aptitude and are looking for a career with a tremendous future, becoming a heating, air conditioning and refrigeration technician could be a perfect fit. As the world shifts to an increasingly energy-efficient, technology-based HVAC-R systems, and a construction industry driving new commercial and residential construction, will fuel the need for qualified technicians, installers and mechanics.

Hear more from Rafael and for more information on our HVAC and Refrigeration program visit us at or give us a call at 800.720.3990.

Raphael: My name is Raphael Cardenas Jr. I went to Coyne for the HVAC program. I’m a pretty good worker with my hands I would say. I just picked a different career to follow that had something do with my hands still. It was HVAC that I chose. I looked up different places and a lot of good reviews from Coyne. My brother-in-law actually attended Coyne and my cousin attended Coyne. Both of them are doing pretty good, so I figured if they could do it, I can do it.

Typical day, those night classes start at six. There was some classroom work, maybe getting over what the plan for the day was going to be. Then a lot in the labs, actually working on hands on with all the materials, all the stuff you’re going to learn. Most challenging part of classes is probably getting to class. That was really the most challenging part. Making it every day, trying to be every day. Especially working full time, trying to make it to class every day was the challenging part.

As far as class, I wouldn’t say it was challenging. Unless you push yourself to do it, or you’ll want to do it. You don’t pay attention, you’re really wasting time, but pay attention to the labs. Hands on stuff because that’s really going to help when you really out there in the field. You’re going to remember back to what you did back in class and it will really help you out.