We rely on electricity to power our lives reliably all day every day. While most of us take it for granted, we may also forget that it can be a safety risk. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), electrical malfunctions are responsible for more than 50,000 house fires each year, many of which are preventable. We compiled a list of the top six common electrical safety hazards in a typical home. If you notice any of the warning signs listed below, be sure to reach out to a licensed electrician.
1. Did the lights just flicker?
In tv or movies, flickering lights are a sign of mystical or otherworldly events. In real life, they’re commonly caused by loose electrical connections. These loose connections can often be traced back to the circuits, the breaker box, or the utility drop. They may also indicate a power surge, which could occur during a storm or if the wiring is not strong enough to handle the power demands of the appliances.
2. What’s that burning smell?
A burning smell coming from an outlet or breaker panel is a top indicator there’s a problem. The plastic sheathing of the wiring begins to melt if the electrical system heats up too much. This could be caused by an overloaded circuit. If you notice this, turn off your electrical panel and call a licensed electrician immediately.
3. Ouch, that’s HOT!
Although appliances generate heat, outlets and switch plates should never feel uncomfortably hot to the touch or make buzzing sounds. Electricity should be silent and flow smoothly between connections. If you are experiencing any of these issues, immediately disconnect the item from its plug and try another outlet. If the problem persists in the same outlet without anything plugged in, it may be incorrectly wired.
4. The circuit breaker tripped, AGAIN!
Circuit breakers and fuses are designed to fail occasionally as a way to prevent overheating. If this happens every once in a while, it’s not a cause for concern. However, if a particular outlet causes the same fuse to blow almost every time it’s used, the circuit is probably overloaded. You might need to upgrade your home’s wiring system or call in a pro to diagnose other underlying problems.
5. How many extension cords are too much?
There are good reasons that electrical wires are buried within walls. Besides being unsightly, power cords create hazards by kinking, shorting, or overheating. This can lead to tripped breakers, damaged outlets, or even sparking. Wiring that’s undisturbed and not overloaded should run smoothly and without incident. Try to use extension cords sparingly. If you find you need more outlets for additional power, a licensed electrician could easily install a few extra.
6. Unwelcome visitors.
If you find evidence of a rodent infestation, call a pest exterminator, then contact a licensed electrician. Damage caused by rodents gnawing at electrical wiring can wreak havoc. Exposed wires can spark or overheat.
The best way to handle any of these problems is to act quickly. Get in touch if you have any questions or concerns about electrical safety in your home. Our experienced crew offers a wide range of electrical services and repairs. We’re available Monday – Friday 9 am to 5 pm, and on weekends for emergencies.