One of the most critical aspects of your home is the electrical wiring. Now more than ever, homes require reliable electrical systems to power the various electronic devices used in everyday life. Identifying problems with your electrical wiring early is crucial in preventing power outages, electrocutions and house fires.
Since most wiring is hidden behind the walls of your home, it may seem difficult to notice warning signs of electrical wiring problems early. However, it’s very simple as long as you keep on the lookout for these specific indicators.
One of the most apparent and serious signs of severe electrical wiring problems is smoke. While smoke can emanate from any part of a wire, it is most easily spotted around outlets. Even if you don’t see smoke, a burning smell from any area with electrical wiring is very concerning and should be addressed immediately to reduce the risk of a sudden house fire.
If you know where the smoke is coming from, cut off power to that area as soon as possible and call a professional electrician to resolve the issue. If you can’t determine exactly where the smoke is originating from, it’s best to either cut off power to as many rooms in the general vicinity of the smell as you can or cut off power to your home entirely before contacting an electrician.
2. Heat or Discoloration Around Outlets
Outlets should always be cool to the touch, even if they’ve recently been used. If you detect any heat around the outlet, that is indicative of overheating wires or arcing. The outlet may show signs of heat damage even if it’s cool. Brown discoloration or black scorch marks around the outlet are major indicators that the wiring is arcing or severely overheating. Cut off power to the outlet or refrain from using it until a professional electrician can assess the issue.
It’s normal to see a tiny spark when you plug in an electrical device. In those circumstances, the electrical current from the outlet jumps to the plug briefly as a connection is made. These sparks are small, infrequent, blue and usually harmless.
However, if you’re noticing frequent sparking that is yellow or white, or if the sparks are coming from your electrical panel, that is an indication that something is wrong with your wiring. If the source of the sparks is an outlet or circuit, cut off power to that area immediately. If the source is the electrical panel, stay away from it and call an electrician as quickly as possible.
4. Electric Shocks
Besides getting a brief static shock when the air is dry, there are no circumstances in which you should ever receive a shock from your electrical system as long as you’re using it properly. Receiving a shock from any outlet, light switch or hardwired electrical appliance in your home indicates that there may be exposed wires due to wear and tear or damage, faulty grounding or a short circuit.
Even minor shocks can quickly lead to stronger electrocutions or house fires. Turn off power to that area as soon as possible, and contact a professional electrician to safely fix the issue.
5. Circuit Breakers Constantly Tripping
Circuit breakers have the extremely important function of shutting off power to isolated circuits when they detect overloads. When a circuit is overloaded, it causes the wires to overheat. If the wires get hot enough, it may cause the insulation to melt or the wires to spark, causing a massive fire hazard.
Tripped circuit breakers are usually doing their job properly, but if they’re tripping frequently, that either means the circuits are constantly overloading, there is a short in the system, or your circuit breaker is malfunctioning.
6. Buzzing Noises
Electrical wiring makes consistent buzzing noises for a variety of reasons. When wires are loose but still making a connection, the electricity arcs slightly between the two points, causing a buzzing noise. Buzzing from arcing can also occur due to wiring that is worn out, damaged or poorly grounded.
While buzzing noises are usually easily detected, determining where exactly the noise is coming from is a more difficult matter. An electrician will be able to pinpoint the exact origin of the buzzing noise, diagnose the problem and fix it safely.
7. Flickering, Overly Bright or Dim Lights
Lights are useful indicators of electronic issues. If the lights appear to be brighter than normal, it could indicate an issue with the dimmer switch, a loose neutral connection or a power surge. If the lights start dimming, it could be a sign of corroded wiring, an overloaded circuit or irregular voltage fluctuations. Flickering lights could be the result of a problem as simple as a loose or dying light bulb, but it can also indicate loose connections or damaged wiring.
A good method of narrowing down the source of the issue is by checking all the lights on the circuit or in the house. If only one light is experiencing these problems, it’s likely an issue with the connections on that specific light. If all the lights on a circuit are flickering but not throughout the entire house, something is wrong with the wiring of that specific circuit. If the entire house has flickering lights, it’s indicative of a severe issue that requires immediate attention by a professional electrician.
8. Popping Sounds From Light Switches and Outlets
Hearing a quick pop noise when you flip a light switch or plug something in is a normal occurrence to many people, but it could be an indicator of problems in your wiring. For example, there could be a loose connection to the outlet or switch, damaged wiring, or the outlet or switch could be faulty or old. It’s better to be cautious and have an electrician investigate the issue rather than assume the sound is normal.
9. Signs of Rodent Activity
Not only are rodent infestations a danger to your health and safety, but they can also lead to electrical wiring problems. Rats, mice, squirrels and chipmunks have a habit of nibbling on electrical wiring. Just one rodent can cause massive damage to your electrical system.
Search for signs of rodent infestation, like droppings, bad odors, nesting materials or sounds of scampering, scratching or chewing in the walls. If you notice any of these signs, you will need to contact both an electrician and a pest control company to safely rectify both issues.
If you’ve noticed signs of problems in your electrical wiring and need the assistance of a professional electrician to solve the issue safely, you can count on our skilled technicians at Potts Electric to provide you with the best electrical repairs and rewiring services. In addition to electrical wiring installation and repair, we also install, repair and maintain electric car chargers, generators, a variety of smart home automation devices and more.
Contact us at Potts Electric today for more information on any of the services we provide to the areas in and around Ellisville, Missouri.