Electrical problems are serious. Your home is at risk of being burnt, possibly to the ground if you ignore warning signs that there may be electrical issues at your house. You and your family could be at risk. Even if you do not lose your home, you run the risk of damaging your appliances.
Here are 8 signs that things may not be on the up and up with the electrical work in your home.
1. Your home and/or wiring is above a certain age
The life span of electrical wiring in a home can be as long as 50-70 years. However, using inferior materials and shoddy workmanship can reduce this significantly. It is recommended that a house be rewired every 20 to 30 years. This is because building standards are likely to have changed over that period of time and your house may not be “up to code” with the old wiring. If you are considering buying a house that is this age, you should have an electrician like those at BMS Electrical review the wiring to see if it should be redone. You do not want to put the demands of a modern household on old electrical wiring. The overload on the system is one of the things that can cause an electrical fire.
2. Chewed or frayed wires
Rats, squirrels, and other rodents in your attic aren’t harmless. If you have chewed or otherwise visibly damaged wires, it’s only a matter of time before you have electrical problems. This is because the wires are now exposed to moisture and corrosion because the rodents have removed the protective covering from them. Sparks from the exposed wires can cause electrical shorts…and that’s if you’re lucky. If those sparks are next to any flammable materials, you may have a fire in your home.
3. Burning plastic smells
Because the wiring is usually hidden from view, you can’t often tell what condition it is in, but you may be able to tell by certain smells in your house. If the scent of burning plastic is a regular occurrence in your home, it’s likely because electrical appliances or wiring is overheating. This can cause the casings inside the appliance or the actual wiring itself to burn. The smell you get is a result. That scent should signal that something is wrong with your wiring. On noticing it, it is best to shut off whatever appliance you were using, or unplug from the particular outlet and call an electrician to see what’s wrong.
4. Flickering lights
Flickering lights can indicate your home is haunted, but that’s a topic for another article. For our purposes, flickering lights signal that there may be a voltage issue with the electrical system in your house. Before you assume that though, make sure that it’s not your bulb that’s too loose in its socket. This can cause lights to flicker, but it’s an easily corrected problem. If this is not the issue in your home and there is a situation with the voltage then, that’s more serious.
When the lights flicker, it means there is a drawdown on the capacity of the electrical system which is bigger than it could handle. Normally, this would cause a breaker to trip. However, if this didn’t happen, over time, the overheating that this causes could result in a fire. What’s even worse, is that problem may not even originate in your home. Your power company may be the one responsible for fluctuations in the voltage levels at your home. If your electrician realizes this is the case, you need to let your utility know so that they can fix it immediately.
5. Circuit breakers tripping
We spoke about circuit breakers earlier. A circuit breaker is a type of switch. Its purpose is to prevent an overload or short in the electrical system from causing damage. They engage whenever there is the potential for damage to the system. Circuit breakers tripping occasionally are nothing to worry about. They are a safety feature of your electrical system. However, if they do so often, it means that there is a recurring problem in your home’s electrical system that may need fixing.
6. Warm/heated electrical outlets
Warm panels for light switches or warm to hot electrical outlets, even with nothing plugged into them are a bad sign. It likely means that there is much more electricity passing through the particular switch or outlet than it was designed for. As stated above, this should normally trip the circuit breaker to cut off the flow of current to the light switch or outlet. That they are warm or hot means this isn’t happening. It could signal a bad connection in your light switch or outlet. When electricity continues to flow through these bad connections they can get very hot, possibly even cause fires.
7. Frequent outages
Power outages are annoying because of how integral electricity has become to our lives. If you notice that the outages happen only in your immediate area, it’s likely a problem with the transformer in your area. Your neighborhood may be overloading the transformer causing it to blow out. That’s an issue for your power company to deal with. If you notice that the outages are happening frequently in your home alone though, it means that breakers are being tripped. Remember breakers are safety devices that prevent your system from being overloaded with too much electricity. The fact that they are being tripped so often warrants further investigation.
8. Buzzing/clicking noises from lighting fixtures
We’ve learned so far that you can see and smell electrical problems in your home. You can also hear them. Have you ever turned on your lights and heard a buzzing or clicking sound? In case you have, that’s not good. Electricity tends to flow from one place to the next silently in your house. When there are frayed wires or faults in an appliance, switch or outlet can cause the current to have to move in a way it would not ordinarily, resulting in that buzzing sound.
Recognizing even one of these signs in your home is enough to sit up and take notice. Several of them should prompt you to get professional help. Your home is a big investment and you should protect it.