How To Know If House Has Electrical Problems
An electrical problem in your Seattle, WA, home poses a danger to you, your family, and your belongings. In most cases, a problem with the circuit breaker, wiring, or outlet will make itself evident with certain signs before a disaster strikes. Awareness of the signs of an electrical problem gives you an opportunity to take action and call us for electrical inspection and repair services. If you notice any of these 10 signs of electrical problems, it’s important to arrange for licensed electricians to troubleshoot the problem as soon as possible.
1. New and Unusual Odors
Sometimes, a new appliance will have an unusual odor after you first set it up and plug it into the outlet. This usually results from its sealant, paint, or adhesives. However, if you detect a strange smell from an outlet or an appliance you’ve been using for more than one or two days, you could have an electrical problem. A burning, plastic, metal, or electrical smell suggests a wiring issue. If you notice any type of odor from your home’s circuit breaker or fuse box, this is an emergency that requires immediate repairs.
2. Warm Outlets or Switches
Outlets should never be warm. If they are, it means that electricity is flowing where it shouldn’t be or that the insulation around the live wires has degraded. The warmth could ignite the insulation in your walls or the walls themselves. This could result in an electrical fire. If a switch is warm, a similar problem could be happening. The electrical current could be flowing through the wiring when the circuit is supposed to be disrupted by the switch. If the electricity flows anyway, this could also start an electrical fire.
3. Unusual Sounds From an Outlet or Switch
When you plug an appliance into an outlet or flip the switch that controls a fixture, listen. If you hear a buzzing sound, the wiring could be drawing more current than is safe. Crackling sounds are a cause for alarm, too. If you hear a sizzling sound, the outlet or circuit could be overheating or even sparking inside the wall. Turn off the fixture, appliance, switch, or outlet as quickly as possible. This problem requires an urgent inspection and a repair.
4. Flickering Lights
When a light flickers, try to determine if it’s just one light or every light in your house. When just one light flickers, it’s likely an issue with the fixture’s bulb or the fixture itself. If it’s every light in your residence, then this is a cause for concern. In most cases, flickering lights are caused by a power surge. This can result from an appliance that needs a large amount of electricity to start, such as a heat pump or central air conditioning system. The flickering could mean that your home’s wiring can’t handle the demand for electricity. After some time, these surges take a toll on the wiring as well as the appliances. You should schedule a wiring and circuit breaker or fuse box inspection if all the lights in your house flicker more than once a week.
5. Intermittent Outlet or Switch Problems
Outlets and switches should be consistent in how they work. If you plug in an appliance only to find that the outlet isn’t working, the next step is to try a different appliance. If it still doesn’t work, have the outlet checked. The same is also true for switches. If an outlet or switch only works sometimes, its wiring has likely gone bad. Faulty wiring is a major cause of house fires, and a wiring inspection needs to be done as soon as possible in order to identify any problems.
6. Hot Ceiling Fixtures
Ceiling fans, recessed lights, chandeliers, and pendant lights are mounted into ceilings. Over time, the insulation around them may degrade. Once a month or so, put your hand on the ceiling near the fixture while the fixture is in use. If the ceiling feels warm to the touch, chances are good that the insulation has degraded. The heat could cause a fire to start in your ceiling, which is a dangerous situation. The fixture and insulation may need to be repaired or replaced.
7. Burn Marks Near Outlets or Switches
If you see orange, brown, or black marks on or near an outlet or switch, don’t use it. The wiring is likely damaged beyond repair, and turning on the switch or using the outlet could ignite a fire. Unplug anything that’s plugged into the outlet, and call for prompt electrical repairs. While you wait, use the circuit breaker to cut the power to the affected circuit. Doing this should prevent any current from flowing through the wiring until an electrician is able to determine the problem.
8. Shocks When Using an Outlet or Switch
During the winter months of the year, static electricity is a common problem. You might feel a light zap when you touch a household member’s shoulder or a doorknob. If you feel a shock when you flip a switch, plug an item into an outlet or touch an appliance, this is an electrical issue that requires professional attention. Most shocks result from a lack of grounding. For example, if your outlets aren’t grounded, but they have three prongs, you could get a shock when touching them. Insufficient grounding of your electrical system can lead to dangerous power surges or electrocution.
9. Sparks When Using an Outlet or Switch
Sparks from an outlet or switch are always a cause for concern. Too much current is flowing through the wiring. The excess current and heat it releases could ignite a fire. The excess current could also electrocute anyone who tries to use the switch our outlet. Any sparking outlet or switch should be turned off at the fuse box or circuit breaker. Immediately call an electrician if any outlet or switch sparks when you attempt to use it.
10. Blown Fuses or Tripped Breakers
Many homes built in the 1960s or earlier still have fuse boxes. The fuses will blow if the current passing through them is too high. This is a common occurrence if you use a modern appliance on an old circuit. For example, if you installed a window air conditioner, your fuse box might not be able to handle the current the air conditioner needs in order to start. In this case, you’ll need an electrical panel upgrade. Sometimes, a circuit breaker may have a circuit trip. If you reset the circuit only for it to trip again or trip the next time you try to use the same appliance, there may be a problem either with the circuit or with the item you’re trying to use. All of these situations require a repair, an upgrade, or a replacement of the breaker box or panel.
Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning is Seattle’s trusted provider of electrical services. Local homeowners also turn to us for reliable indoor air quality solutions and tankless water heaters. Our heating and air conditioning maintenance, repair, and installation services can keep your home comfortable all year. For additional tips on how to know if your house has electrical problems, get in touch with us at Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning today.