Electrical wiring is often out of sight and mind, but it’s important to stay alert for warning signs. Breakers that trip frequently, buzzing outlets and switches, and dimming or flickering lights indicate that your home’s wiring needs an upgrade. If a plug feels warm to the touch, current flows through it and must be replaced or repaired immediately.
Electrical wiring is something only some homeowners think about, but it should be a priority to keep it up-to-date. Old or outdated wiring can create dangerous predicaments within the walls that can threaten the safety of a home’s occupants. Breakers and fuses that trip regularly are the most common signs of a problem with a home’s electrical wiring and flickering or buzzing lights.
A burning smell may also be an indicator of electrical problems. A properly functioning circuit should never emit a burning smell and is likely to indicate that wires are overheating, which can lead to fires and other dangers. Another warning sign is feeling slightly warmth from an outlet or switch when you touch it. A warm outlet indicates that the current running through the wires isn’t distributing power evenly. You’ll want to call an electrician to inspect and repair any issues found. Getting a professional to replace your electrical wiring will help prevent dangerous problems in the future.
Flickering or Buzzing Lights
Flickering lights are annoying but can signify much bigger electrical problems. If your lights flicker often, especially when you turn on high-energy appliances, having an electrician check out your wiring and meter box is a good idea. Flashing or buzzing lights may also indicate excess voltage, which could cause damage to your equipment or even fires. If the light flickering is contained in a single room or area, it’s usually an easy fix. Wiggling the switch can help you determine whether it’s a simple problem like a loose bulb or something more serious, such as a problem with the wiring in the fixture or breaker box. In other cases, the issue may stem from the electric company’s transformer, which can be a significant fire hazard if handled incorrectly. In those cases, it’s important to compare notes with your neighbors and report the issue to electrical companies.
Loose or Sloppy Wiring
Electricians don’t get points for beautiful wiring installation work, but it should always be smooth and tight. It doesn’t conduct better than a well-organized wire and can present shock and fire hazards.
Loose or sloppy wiring can also cause a hazard when plugging in a cord or switch. If you notice a spark when plugging in or switching on a switch, that could indicate that the outlet or circuit has become overloaded and is at risk for a fire. Over time, the pins of plugs and sockets (also known as powerboards) wear down and can make connections unstable. Buzzing sounds are another sign of an issue and indicate that your electrical system needs to be rewired. A high energy bill suggests that your home’s electrical wiring is outdated and needs an upgrade. The older your house is, the more likely your wiring was designed for a different amount of electricity your electronics use today.
Shocking Outlets or Switches
If you have an outlet or switch that is shocking to touch, it indicates a serious problem with your circuits and needs to be fixed immediately. It may be caused by a hot spot in your wall, faulty wiring, outdated aluminum, or knob-and-tube wiring. If the outlet or switch is also warm to the touch or shows scorch marks on its surface, it is a sign that it’s releasing heat and could lead to a fire.
Buzzing outlets and switches are another sign of a problem resulting from loose wiring, an overloaded circuit or a faulty electrical component. They may also indicate that you have a defective receptacle from the factory or that it was improperly installed during an upgrade. Keeping an eye out for these signs of problems with your electrical wiring can help you keep it in good condition and avoid a dangerous shock or fire. If you see any of these symptoms, contact a licensed electrician immediately to get them checked and corrected.