The last thing any of us want to deal with is an electrical issue in our home. Electrical issues can be hard to diagnose, with many electrical systems being fairly finicky and difficult to manage. Furthermore, electrical systems can be somewhat dangerous if something goes wrong. You can’t be sure that an electrical system issue won’t turn into an electrical fire — and that in itself is fairly scary. But the reality is that many of us will have to confront this kind of problem at some point or another. Few electrical systems can last forever without some kind of hiccup or failure.
But the sooner you can recognize that you’re dealing with a common electrical problem at home, the sooner you can get in touch with electricians and ensure that your problem is dealt with. Not only will this ensure that the problem doesn’t get out of hand and become more unsafe, but it will also keep you from paying more out of pocket.
Simply put, people depend on their electrical systems. Electricity use across the United States has increased 13 fold since 1950, and understandably so. We’re dependent on electricity to cook our food and wash our clothes, as well as to power the technology with which we can work and keep ourselves comfortable and safe. It’s easy to ignore potential problems and keep using our systems, but this will tax them further and cause greater damage — ultimately resulting in higher costs for repairs.
With that being said, let’s explore some of the common signs that you’re dealing with an electrical problem in your home — whether you’re looking at a house before buying, dealing with an older home, or encountering a real emergency. The more you know, the easier it will be for you to call qualified electricians… and skip trying to DIY your way out of a complicated issue.
1. Outlet Problems
Pay attention to your outlets. Quite often, they can be some of the conveyors of common electrical problems at home without homeowners ever realizing it. Outlets are, after all, where a great deal of our electricity converges. Therefore, they often give off some of the early signs that something is wrong with electrical wiring. If you’re wondering about whether or not something might be wrong with your electrical system, press the back of your hand lightly against your outlet. If it’s hot to the touch, this could be a sign that something is wrong. The same can be said if your light switches are warm or hot when you turn the lights on or off. Outlets may also start sparking, indicating that there is either something wrong with the underlying wiring or that something is wrong with a fixture.
You shouldn’t be able to hear your light fixtures or outlets in any way if your electricity is working as it should. This is why, if you hear a humming or buzzing sound around your outlets or fixtures, you have reason to be concerned. Cracking or sizzling could be other sounds that you might need to worry about. If you do hear these types of problems, turn off the lights or fixtures immediately and call an electrician. Although some of the common electrical problems at home can start off as relatively minor, they can quickly grow out of hand and cause a good deal of danger.
3. Flickering Lights
You may dismiss it when your lights are flickering. Surely that isn’t too much of an issue, right? Lights flicker all the time. But the reality is that there are a lot of issues that you should be concerned about that could originally be hinted at through flickering lights. For example, flickering lights can be indicative of a power surge. While a power surge doesn’t necessarily indicate a major electrical issue, it can cause serious problems if left unaddressed. Typically, power surges are the result of appliances and electrical installations testing your electrical system and requiring more power than the system is able to give. Over time, your appliances and fixtures may be negatively affected by repeated surges. If you keep on seeing flickering lights in your home, make sure that you aren’t dealing with some of the most common electrical problems at home.
4. Rodent Droppings
You may be surprised by the fact that this is a sign of an electrical issue. How could rodent droppings be signs of some of the most common electrical problems at home? The reality is that when you find mice and rodent droppings in your home, you probably have a serious rodent issue. Rodent droppings don’t usually show up when you’re only dealing with a single mouse that investigates your home and leaves. If you see rodent droppings, you may have a serious problem on your hands. Not only is this fairly disgusting, but it also means that the mice or rats in your home are probably chewing on electrical wiring. When electrical wiring is frayed or damaged, it becomes a real fire hazard. Mice and rats are particularly drawn to kitchens due to the presence of food, which means that they could cause damage to your appliances. Before you get to work on appliance repairs, however, you should look for damage to the electrical wiring in your home in general. Be sure to reach out to electricians about how to have this damage mended.
5. Circuit Breaker Trouble
You probably feel fairly annoyed when your circuit breaker is constantly flipping. This could cause a power outage in a specific part of your home (or even your entire home). You shouldn’t just assume that constant circuit breaker issues are normal, even if you live in an older home. They often flip when the circuit breaker itself is overloaded. Often, electricians need to evaluate entire electrical systems if a circuit breaker is flipping overly often.
If you’re considering buying a home, feel free to ask about how commonly the breakers flip. The answer could indicate whether or not the home is really right for your purposes. Home buyers often neglect to ask about the electrical systems of their potential future homes, assuming that all problems will be caught during a home inspection. But that isn’t always the case. Some electrical problems are harder to catch than others, so you can’t be sure that a home inspector will be fully equipped enough to catch subtler issues (which is why you need to have multiple inspectors assess a home before buying it). Make sure that you know what questions to ask before you commit to buying a home and test out electrical systems yourself when on a home tour — at least to the extent that you can.
6. Strange Odors
The last thing anyone wants to deal with in their home is a bad odor, so you’ll probably notice this issue fairly quickly. But that doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily be able to connect it to some of the common electrical problems at home. However, bad odors can indicate electrical issues — so pay attention if you smell something strange. Funny odors often present themselves most commonly when appliances are first installed. At times, this is connected to minor issues like the appliance’s paint or finish. But if an electrical outlet is emitting an odd odor, you should immediately unplug all of the connected fixtures or appliances. Don’t use those outlets again until you’ve had a representative from an electrical company come by and assess the problem. It could be nothing, but it could also be a sign that something is seriously wrong.
7. Counterfeit Products
You may not even know that you’re working with counterfeit electrical problems. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t! You could actually move into a new home that has counterfeit electrical products without even realizing it. Many people also buy counterfeit electrical products off of major websites like Amazon or eBay without realizing that that is what they’re dealing with. You shouldn’t buy electrical products for deals that seem too good to be true. Question the seller’s source and don’t buy from no-name sellers on Amazon or distributors at flea markets. Counterfeit products are not up to government standards and can be remarkably dangerous. They can cause power surges, sparks, and eventually even electrical fires. Buy directly from the manufacturer in order to ensure that you’re getting the actual products that you need. If your home comes with certain appliances, look over them and make sure they’re genuine before accepting your “inheritance.” The reality is that these counterfeits may be cheap, but in the long term, they’ll cause some of the common electrical problems at home. You won’t want to pay for the repair costs after these products malfunction.
8. Shoddy Outlets and Light Switches
Think about the conditions of electrical outlets and light switches in major hospitals and medical clinics. They’re often pristine and are constantly refurbished or replaced when needed. This is because it’s important for these facilities to be constantly functional, particularly because they rely on a great deal of electrical power.
Some of the common electrical problems at home that you’re dealing with may not be as serious as those that can occur in a hospital or a medical clinic. But it’s still important for you to stay on top of your own electrical system and that means keeping your outlets and light switches in great shape. If they’re worn down or cracked with exposed wires, subject to chipping or black streaks, you should seriously consider having an electrician check out your electrical system. If you’re considering buying a home with these issues, perhaps think again. The last thing you want is to invest in a home that has electrical problems you might not be able to deal with effectively.
9. Outdated Wiring
Perhaps your electrical system isn’t performing as you would like. Your outdoor lighting is dimmer than you thought it would be, your lights fail frequently, and you experience power surges more often than you should. This could be the result of outdated electrical wiring in your system. Outdated wiring is one of the main causes of common electrical problems at home. Look for damage in your wires or wire covers, like general wear and tear or fraying. Again, buzzing sounds could indicate the fact that you’re dealing with obsolete wiring, as well as sparking and blown fuses. Of course, you may not be able to tell with your naked eye whether or not you’re dealing with faulty wiring. Therefore, you should get in touch with professional electricians. They can use measurement tools to assess the effectiveness of your electrical system and give an indication as to whether or not you need to invest in a new system outright.
10. Unorganized Breaker Boxes
If you’re experiencing frequent breaker box flips or electrical problems in general, check out your breaker box to see whether or not it’s properly organized. If the wires in your circuit box come without labels or are tangled, you have reason to be concerned. These are some of the causes of common electrical problems at home. It can be difficult for you to tell what you’re doing when you’re dealing with a disorganized breaker box. You may flip the wrong breakers, unintentionally causing problems in your electrical system. Furthermore, a disorganized circuit box could be indicative of a disorganized electrical system. Don’t dismiss this issue.
Clearly, there are a lot of common electrical problems at home that you should be aware of. Generally speaking, the older a home is, the more likely you will be to find yourself dealing with electrical problems. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your house. Just make sure that you stay on top of the potential issues in the home, and do what you can to keep it as well-maintained as possible. Not only will this make your home more enjoyable and easy to use, but it will also ensure that your electrical system is as safe as possible. A safe home is a happy home. So take your electrical system seriously!