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Top 6 Signs of Electrical Problems

on October 30, 2015

6 Signs of Electrical Problems in Your Home

When there’s a problem with the electrical system, the signs can be extremely obvious.  From smoke and burning odors to shocks and flickering lights, when there’s a problem in your home, there are signs.

1. Burning Odor or Sparks

If running an appliance or flipping a switch fills the room with a burning odor (burnt plastic or a urine-like smell), or if you see sparks attached to an electrical connection, then there is a major electrical problem.  Any time this happens, you should immediately shut down the circuit and all an electrical technician to find the issue and fix it.

2. Non-Functional Outlets

An outlet or switch that isn’t working can be as simple as a disconnected circuit or a tripped breaker.  Deeper electrical issues should be diagnosed by an electrician, but a non-functional outlet is also one that isn’t working properly.  If a socket is too loose to hold a plug in place, then it should be replaced as well.

3. Electrical Shocks

It doesn’t matter what the source if, if anything in your home delivers an electrical shock when you touch it, then it needs to be repaired or replaced immediately.  Any work done will need the circuit to be shut off anyway, so you should go ahead and turn off that electrical circuit, typically by tripping the breaker.

4. Faulty Breakers

By design, breakers trip when there’s a problem on the circuit.  When you place too high of a load on your breaker or a sudden spike in load occurs, the breaker can trip.  Changing high loads to other circuits will fix this problem.  If it doesn’t, there may be a problem with either the breaker or the circuit itself.  The best case scenario for a breaker problem is that it continues to trip, shutting down devices.  Occasionally, your breaker will fail to trip when it should.  In cases such as this, keep an ear out for loud electrical humming or buzzing from the breaker box.  Excessive heat from the box or wires in the home are also a strong sign of a breaker box issue.

5. Hot fixtures and Outlets

Just like with your breaker box, if screws, switches, faceplates, or cables around fixtures and outlets are heating up, you’re either overloading your circuit, or there is a serious electrical issue within the walls.  If decreasing the load on the circuit doesn’t help, then call an electrician to help sort out the real issue.  Your wires may not be up to the task of handling the load, or could be damaged due to aging.

6. Flickering Lights

Flickering lights, not just dimming when you turn on the microwave, can be a symptom of bad electrical wiring or dirty AC power coming through the line.  Check the fixture itself to make sure that there isn’t an issue with connection points from your house wiring.  If you can’t find the issue at the wall switch or the fan, then it could be due to damage wires in between or a loose connection where you can’t reach.  At this point, you should call a licensed electrician.


If you’re worried about the safety of your home wiring, then you should call Mainstream Electric.  We’ll be glad to conduct a home safety inspection for your peace of mind.

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For more information on home and business electrical inspections, visit Mainstream Electric online.

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