Some signs of an electrical problem at home are obvious, such as fuses and breakers frequently blowing. However, some signs that your home’s electrical system needs attention are more subtle. In fact, there are 51,000 home electrical fires every year, accounting for close to 500 deaths and over 1,400 injuries.
An Electrical Problem at Home Can Cause a Fire
Electrical fires are common, and it pays to fix potential problems before they cause damage. Below are 7 signs you may have electrical problems in your home.
This sign indicates a loose electrical connection. If it’s just one light, then the problem is likely isolated to that one light fixture. However, if multiple lights are flickering, then it’s likely the problem is further down the circuit. If the entire house is flickering, the issue could be from the breaker box or even the utility box outside the house.
Hot Outlets Mean an Electrical Problem at Home
Many of your appliances create heat, but the electrical outlet should never heat up. If an outlet cover gets hot to the touch, unplug your appliance immediately and don’t use that outlet until the problem is fixed. It’s common for dimmer switches to become warm to the touch, but not hot.
If the wiring in your home is getting hot enough to melt the insulation on the wire, you need to address the problem immediately. If you smell burning that is not from cooking or a fireplace, this may be what is happening. Look for the source of the smell, whether it’s one light fixture or the breaker box, and get it fixed right away. If the wires are getting hot enough that you can smell it, a fire could be imminent.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, high copper prices caused some home builders to use single-strand aluminum wire. While tests showed that aluminum was an appropriate substitute for copper at the time, aluminum oxidizes much faster than copper. This means that heat builds up faster, leading to an increased risk for fire.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission discovered that buildings with aluminum wiring were up to 55 times more likely to catch fire. If you suspect your house has aluminum wiring, it is time to consult with a licensed electrician.
If you touch a metal appliance that’s plugged into your home’s electrical system and get shocked, it’s a sign that your home’s electrical system is not grounded. If your electrical system is not properly grounded, then anything plugged in won’t be grounded. Call an electrician to ground your electrical system.
Loose Electrical Outlets
If you notice that an outlet seems to be loose, it can lead to shorts and potential fires. If you plug something in and it falls right out of the outlet, have an electrician take a look and make any needed repairs.
Rodents Can Cause an Electrical Problem at Home
If you see signs of rodents in your house, you need to check for damaged wires. Rodents will chew the insulation on electrical wiring until it’s bare, and the exposed wires will begin to overheat, causing a fire hazard. If you notice any rodent activity around your wiring, look for damage and address the rodent issue.