What Are the Signs of Electrical Problems?


What Are the Signs of Electrical Problems?

by ICC on November 20, 2018
November 20, 2018 / by / in

If there is one problem in the house that the homeowner can’t afford to ignore, it’s a problem with the electrical system. A faulty electrical system not only interferes with the proper functioning of appliances and other items but can lead to a fire. Indeed, over 51,000 homes catch fire every year because of problems with their electrical systems. Because of this, it’s crucial that a homeowner know the signs of electrical problems in their home and have them fixed as soon as possible.

Signs that something is wrong with the electrical system include:

Lights That Flicker or Dim

The cause of this is that the light source is on the same circuit as an electrical appliance. “If this is the case, an electrician should wire the lights to different circuits and wire appliances like the washing machine to dedicated lines,” says Ryan Bealmear, President of Teague Electric.

Strange Smells

If someone in the household notices a strange smell coming from an outlet, they need to turn off whatever is plugged into it, and unplug it. The outlet should not be used until an electrician examines and fixes it. A funny smell emanating from the circuit breaker must be considered an emergency, and an electrician should be called at once.

Strange Noises

An electrical system that is working well is silent. If a person hears buzzing from an outlet, they should unplug it, and call an electrician.

Breakers That Keep Tripping

Breakers that frequently trip or fuses that frequently blow may mean that the circuit has too much of a load to carry. An electrician should be called in to evaluate the situation and perhaps install a new line or two. However, if the circuit breaker trips whenever an appliance such as a vacuum cleaner is plugged into any outlet in the house, it’s probably the fault of the appliance.

Frayed Wires

Wires can fray because of age, being bent too often or damage from a fastener or the beater bar of a vacuum cleaner. Any appliance or device that has frayed wires needs to be repaired or replaced.

Loose Connections

It’s possible that the connections between outlets and electric wires can become slack over time. Now and then, the homeowner should check to make sure that the wires, outlets and switches are in good condition, especially if they suspect that something is not right. If electrical components are found to be damaged, they should be replaced right away.


Sparks are dramatic signs that all is not right with the electrical system. Sparks from the circuit breaker box constitute an emergency that needs to be seen to by a electrician. On the other hand, sparks may mean that the appliance, lamp or other device is faulty. That would require the services of a repairman who is usually less expensive than an electrician. If the warranty is still in force, it may cost nothing at all to fix it.

Hot Switch Plates

Switch plates and outlets should never get to the point where they are too hot to touch. If they are, the person needs to unplug whatever is attached to it. If the outlet or switch plate is hot even when it’s not being used, it may be a sign that it was not wired the right way. The thing to do is take out the fuse or turn off the breaker to the outlet, and call the electrician. A switch plate or outlet that has scorch marks must be replaced right away.

Too Many Extension Cords

Extension cords should be used conservatively and unplugged when they are not needed. It is too easy for an extension cord to be damaged, which in turn can damage outlets, trip breakers or start fires. If the homeowner finds that they have to constantly use extension cords to get regular jobs done, they should have more outlets installed in the house.

No GFCIs in a Wet Room

GFCIs or ground fault circuit interrupters are shock proof outlets that should be installed in a wet room such as a kitchen, bath or laundry room. They usually have two red buttons. If a wet room does not have GFCIs, they need to be installed by an electrician.