From home, work, and in-between, electricity is present in every aspect of our lives. But it’s not something we often think about. Tucked away behind the walls, electrical wiring is easy to forget.
And that’s why it can be so dangerous. 51,000 electrical fires occur every year and cause $1.3 billion in damages. Thankfully, most electrical problems are accompanied by clear warning signs.
By being knowledgeable about these issues, you’ll be in a better position to protect your family and assets. Take a moment out of your day to learn about these seven warning signs of home electrical problems.
1. Buzzing Outlets Are an Electrical Problem
Electricity is quiet between seamless connections. You should never hear any buzzing or humming from a power outlet or light switch. If you do, that’s a good sign that something’s wrong.
When a current skips along the line, electricity emits a soft buzzing sound. This might occur because of wiring issues or a problem with the attached appliance.
Once you discover the source of the sound, unplug everything from the socket. You can plug in a different appliance to see if the noise persists. If it does, avoid the outlet until an electrician can diagnose the problem.
2. Erratic Lights
Lights are sensitive to changes in your home’s electrical system. For example, if your light dims it isn’t receiving enough power. And on the extreme end, you might see your lights flicker, which likely means a power surge has occurred.
If it’s just a single bulb, replace it with a new one. Odds are there’s an electrical problem if the issue doesn’t go away. You might notice an entire row of lights flickering or dimming — a sign that the issue is deep in the circuit.
The culprit could range from loose wires, overloaded circuits, or an issue with the lights fixtures themselves. It’s impossible to diagnose without a qualified electrician.
3. Tripped Wires
When a circuit is under too much stress, the circuit breaker trips the wire. Almost everyone has experienced a tripped wire at some point in their lives. It’s one of the most common electrical problems.
Old homes tend to be the most vulnerable since their electrical systems struggle under the demand of modern appliances. However, it could also be the fault of a single malfunctioning appliance or outlet.
An occasionally tripped wire is nothing to fret about. But if it happens often, don’t flip the breaker. Instead, rely on this residential service to investigate the issue.
4. Burning Smells
Does it smell like something is burning? This is one of the worst indicators of home electrical problems. If left unchecked, it could result in an electrical fire.
When you notice burning odors in your home, immediately pinpoint the source. It could be in the kitchen or laundry room. However, if you discover the smell is leaking from an outlet, there’s a serious fire hazard on your hands.
You could be dealing with an exposed wire or sparking outlet. This isn’t a problem that will vanish on its own. Unplug everything from the socket and contact an electrician right away.
5. Signs of Vermin
A vermin infestation could lead to some serious electrical issues. To trim their teeth, rats nibble away on everything and anything. Unfortunately, this often includes live electrical wire.
If you discover vermin or their droppings in your household, you should be wary of your home’s electrical system. Rats will bite on wires until they’re exposed, putting you at risk of a fire. You should have a professional examine your home’s wiring once you take care of the vermin situation.
Even after the inspection, be on the lookout for other signs of electrical issues. Remember: If something smells like it’s burning, you’d better find the source as soon as possible.
6. Hot Fixtures
Lightbulbs emit both light and heat. However, they should never become too hot to touch. Lights may become dangerously hot when improper bulbs are installed or there’s too much wattage.
Most light fixtures have insulation that keeps the heat off the wiring. But when there’s not enough insulation or none at all, this heat can build to dangerous levels.
Also, beware of heat in outlets and switches. Unlike light fixtures, these shouldn’t retain heat of any kind. A dimmer switch is the only exception.
7. Malfunctioning Outlets
When your power outlets stop working altogether, you know something is wrong. You should check the circuit breaker to see if anything was tripped. If not, there’s a serious problem with the outlet such as loose or damaged wiring.
Another sign your outlet isn’t working properly? If you notice sparks or feel a slight shock when you plug something in, it’s time to stop using the outlet and call an electrician.
Some electrical hazards are even more benign. A loose outlet may allow an appliance to be plugged in, but a portion of the prongs will remain visible. This puts you at risk of shock the next time you interact with the cord.
Be Cautious of Residential Electrical Problems
It’s not hard to detect signs of electrical problems. However, they’re easy to overlook if you’re not careful. That’s why it’s important to be vigilant whenever something seems wrong with your home’s electrical system.
A subtle odor or loose outlet may not seem like a serious situation, but things can get out of control if you don’t take immediate action. Electricity is dangerous to work with. When you spot a sign of an electrical problem, leave it to the professionals.
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