It's always good to call an electrician for electrical problems you may have in your home, as electricity may be more dangerous to work around than you might imagine and shoddy repairs can lead to electrical fires. However, it's also good to know what you might be facing by way of repairs and repair bills when your home is having electrical problems. Note a few tips for troubleshooting common electrical problems around the home.
First ensure you've checked all the simple and obvious problems with a dead outlet; see if there is a wall switch connected to the outlet which needs to be in the "on" position to work. Try that lamp or other device in another outlet to ensure it's not the device itself that is malfuctioning, and check the circuit breaker to see if it's tripped. If these issues are not the culprit, you might turn off the correct circuit to the outlet and unscrew the faceplate to see if any wires are loose from the connections. Often you can simply tighten a screw to reconnect it. However, if the wiring is bare, frayed, or corroded, this is something best left to an electrician. The entire wire behind the outlet that connects to the circuit box typically needs replacing in these cases.
If you notice brown or black marks on an outlet, even if it still works, you'll want to check behind it for frayed wires. Discolored outlets usually means there has been singeing of the wires and this, in turn, results in a spark that discolors the faceplate. If you have a space heater, hairdryer, or other such hot appliance plugged into the same outlet and use it for long periods of time, this might cause the wires to get too hot and singe. An electrician may want to rewire the outlet to a different type of wiring that can withstand that heat.
Lost power to large part of the home
If your home has lost power in one section and not just one outlet and still has power in other areas, check the circuit panel or breaker box. Note if there appears to be rust or other corrosion along the switches. If so, there may be water damage to some of the wiring behind the circuit panel or box and, in turn, those wires are no longer providing power to areas of your home. An electrician can replace them and also note the cause of the water damage so you can have that repaired by a contractor as well.