When you flip a light switch, power on your computer, or turn on your coffee maker, you expect the electrical wiring to do its job. It’s easy to take electricity for granted – until you spot warning signs of an electrical wiring issue. Don’t ignore these problems or you could increase the risk of fire. Many of the 54,000 home electrical fires that occur each year could be prevented if homeowners took immediate action against bad electrical wiring in older homes. Here’s what to watch out for.
Hot, Scorched Outlets
All electrical outlets and light switches should remain cool to the touch. If you ever notice hot spots, scorch marks, or a burning odor, shut off the power at the electrical panel and contact an electrician. These problems can result from faulty devices, but they could also indicate a wiring problem or electrical overload.
Sparking, Crackling, or Buzzing Outlets
Small, occasional sparks while plugging in an appliance are nothing to worry about. However, large sparks and crackling or buzzing sounds require attention from an electrician. Shut off the electricity to the affected outlet and refrain from using it until a licensed electrician takes a look.
Frequently Tripped Circuit Breakers
Your electrical panel features circuit breakers that serve the important purpose of shutting off the power supply when electrical demand exceeds the circuit’s capabilities. This prevents overheating and potential electrical fires.
If your circuit breakers trip often, try plugging an appliance into an outlet on a different circuit. If nothing you try seems to help, you may need an electrical panel upgrade. An electrician can add circuits and install outlets to make your home safer and fit to handle the greater electrical demands of a high-tech lifestyle.
Properly functioning appliances and updated electrical wiring feature a grounding element to safely disperse power surges. However, if you receive a mild shock when you touch an appliance, this safety feature could be faulty. To prevent the situation from escalating to a dangerous level, have your electrical wiring inspected.
Be aware that static electricity can create a shock as well. If you shuffle your feet along the carpet and then touch a metal appliance, this could generate a mild shock, especially in wintertime when the air is dry. This type of shock is annoying, but poses no cause for concern.
To troubleshoot this electrical issue, first tighten the flickering light bulb. Replace the bulb if tightening doesn’t help. If the problem continues, the fault may lie in the fixture itself or in the electrical panel. Either problem demands attention from a licensed electrician.
Your lights may also flicker when you turn on a high-powered device such as a window air conditioner or microwave. The dimming lights indicate that an electrical overload is very nearly causing a circuit breaker to trip. Repeatedly overloading your wiring could create excessive heat and start a fire.
Loose Receptacle Connections
When you plug a cord into an outlet, the connection should be tight. Loose receptacles create several problems. First, they may cause intermittent operation of any appliance plugged into that outlet. Then, if the plug partially falls out, this increases the risk of shock when you go to unplug the cord. Finally, the loose connection increases friction, which generates more heat and may increase the risk of electrical fires.
At Rainbow International®, we want you to stay safe from electrical hazards by heeding these warning signs. However, if your home is damaged in an electrical fire, we’re here to help you recover. Contact us today to learn more about our fire restoration services.