5 Electrical Problem Warning Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore

Homeowner inspects a tripped circuit breaker after losing power, one of the common electrical problem warning signs to watch out for.

Electricity has long been vital to our daily lives, but we often take it for granted – until it malfunctions in some way. Many homeowners miss or ignore small issues that can indicate much bigger problems, as well as pose serious safety threats like shocks and fires. Watch for these electrical problem warning signs to keep your home and family safe.

Burning Odors

A burning odor clearly indicates a fire hazard, making it the biggest and most important indicator to look out for, and should be addressed immediately. If you smell burning plastic or vinyl, check near outlets and your electrical panel and try to pinpoint the source. Once you find it, unplug everything from nearby sockets and contact your local electrician right away.

Faulty Outlets

Just because an outlet is working doesn’t mean it’s safe. Issues that may seem like a minor inconvenience can indicate bigger problems with your home’s wiring. Don’t ignore these faulty outlet warning signs:

  • Vibrating and/or warm outlets: Wiring issues can cause outlets to vibrate or feel warm to the touch and pose serious danger. DO NOT touch wiring directly when checking outlets and contact a professional electrician ASAP.
  • Loose-fitting plugs: Outlets naturally wear over time, and loose-fitting plugs pose a shock and fire hazard.
  • Unusual sparks when plugging in devices: Tiny blue sparks actually happen every time a plug and outlet connect, but they’re usually very fast and small. Sparks that are big, cause smoke or burning plastic smell, last more than a second or take time to fizzle out, or not blue (i.e. white, yellow, or any other color) need to be addressed immediately.
  • Buzzing sounds: Electricity makes a soft buzzing sound when a current skips along the line, pointing to potential wiring issues.
  • Discoloration or scorching: Odd colors or scorch marks on an outlet indicate damaged wiring that’s releasing heat.

If you notice any of these outlet issues, be sure all plugs are removed and schedule a professional inspection immediately. The solution could be as simple as replacing your outlet(s), but these signs can indicate larger, more dangerous issues that require rewiring or an electrical system upgrade.

Malfunctioning Lights

Being very sensitive to changes in electricity, lights provide a clear indication of issues with your home’s system. Lights will dim when they’re not receiving enough power, whereas flickering is likely due to a power surge. If a single bulb is malfunctioning, replace it with a new one. If that doesn’t work, or you notice an entire group of bulbs acting erratically, you’re looking at an issue deeper in the circuit or with the fixture itself.

Frequent Circuit Breaker Trips

Circuit breakers are designed to cut power through the circuit when the system is overloaded, so the occasional trip just means the breaker is doing its job. When it happens multiple times a month or more, that’s a clear sign of a larger and potentially dangerous issue with your home’s wiring.

Frayed or Chewed Wires

Damaged electrical cords with exposed wiring should be replaced immediately as they can lead to shocks and even fires. Additionally, chewed wires point to a rodent problem (especially if you don’t have pets) you’ll want to address as well. On the flipside, if you notice rat droppings and other signs of a vermin infestation, be sure to check cords around the house for damage.

Our lives have become incredibly reliant on electricity. And since properly functioning systems deliver our power seamlessly, it’s easy to take for granted. Small issues often get missed or ignored, so it’s important to know what to look for in order to prevent bigger, more serious, and potentially hazardous troubles down the road. Watch for these electrical problem warning signs to keep your home and family safe and fully powered.

Stafford Home Service has proudly provided reliable residential electric and HVAC services to residents throughout the Twin Cities area since 1973. From troubleshooting and repairing issues to wiring new homes and remodel projects, you can trust the experienced and service-focused experts at Stafford.

Contact us today to learn more.



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