Spotting electrical problems at home

You walk in a room, flip a switch and have light. It’s expected. When that doesn’t happen, it grabs our attention and your home might be signaling there is a problem.

Signs that indicate an electrical malfunction include:

  • An unusual odor – New appliances may emit a strange odor the first time or two they are used, but if outlets, the breaker box or other appliances emit a foul odor, you may have a problem with the wiring. Immediately turn off and unplug anything that smells wrong and call an electrician.
  • Breaker tripping – If you have a breaker that is tripping more than occasionally, that’s not normal and likely unsafe. Circuit breakers that trip signal an overloaded circuit. If an appliance trips the breaker each time you use it, it’s likely the appliance. If the same outlet trips regardless of what you plug in, it’s likely a problem with your electrical system and it’s time for a professional.
  • Warm or sparking outlets – If your light switches are warm to the touch or an outlet sparks, call an electrician immediately to see if your fixture should be replaced or if you need wiring repairs.
  • Buzzing sounds – If you hear any buzzing, crackling or sizzling sounds when you flip a switch or plug into an outlet, turn off the power and consult a professional. Outlets and switches should operate silently.
  • Flickering lights – If an electrical circuit in your home is overloaded, it could cause lights to dim or flicker. This usually happens when you have more demands than the system can handle. These surges can take a toll
    on your appliances and your fixtures. Large appliances should have their
    own circuit. A licensed electrician can move items to a different circuit
    or install a dedicated line.

Being aware of these warning signs can help protect your home for years to come.