Many homeowners don’t give much thought to the appliances in their home that use electricity – that is, until there’s a problem and the device stops working like it should. People also don’t think much about their home’s electrical wiring and outlets until, again, there’s a problem that prevents them from being able to enjoy the use of your TV, phone charger, coffee machine, and so on.
But did you know that over 50,000 fires each year are caused by electrical issues in the home? It’s important to be mindful of your home’s electrical wiring, and the devices in your home that make use of electricity to be sure everything is safe and sound.
To ensure that your electrical wiring, outlets, and devices are safe, call in a professional electrician for a thorough inspection if you notice the following:
When you purchase a new appliance, it isn’t uncommon for the device to give off a strange electrical smell for the first few minutes it’s being used. For example, if you purchase a new toaster, the device may give off an odd smell the first time it’s used. The smell is likely the result of dust from the manufacturing and shipment process being burned off. If you continue to notice the smell, however, unplug the device as it may be malfunctioning.
Additionally, if you notice a burning smell coming from electrical outlets or cables (such as your phone charger), shut off power to the outlet from your fuse box/circuit breaker, or unplug the cable. Then, call a professional electrician to diagnose the cause of the burning odor.
Lights are flickering
Often, flickering lights aren’t a result of an issue with the fixture or the light bulb. Instead, the problem may be linked to another appliance on the same circuit that’s using an excessive amount of energy, such as your heating and cooling system.
If you notice this issue, contact a professional electrician immediately for an inspection. There may be nothing to worry about, and he or she may be able to rewire your lighting to a different circuit. However, flickering lights could also be an indication that you have damaged wiring, and this could be a fire hazard.
Additionally, an electrician will be able to determine if the appliance using an excessive amount of electricity has enough power supply and is operating safely.
Outlets feel hot to the touch
You should make a habit of checking the temperature of the outlets in your home. This can be done by placing your hand close to the outlet to see if it’s warm or dangerously hot. A consistently warm outlet is nothing to be too concerned about. However, if you have an outlet that has started to feel very hot whether something is plugged into it or not, it’s an issue that needs to be looked at immediately as it could indicate a serious wiring problem. Unplug any appliances from the outlet(s) and contact an electrician as soon as possible.
It’s never normal to hear a buzzling sound coming from your outlets. In fact, this noise could be an indication that there is frayed wiring or a defective outlet that needs to be taken care of before a fire results, and/or before appliances plugged into the outlet are damaged themselves.
Circuit breakers constantly get tripped
The job of your circuit breaker is to prevent damage to your outlets and appliances by shutting off electricity to the area if the load is excessively high. If you notice that a circuit breaker routinely becomes tripped when using a certain appliance, this could indicate that the appliance has malfunctioned and needs to be replaced, or there’s a serious issue with the outlet that needs to be addressed.
Sparks are observed
If you can see sparks coming from your outlets while using an appliance, immediately stop use of the device and be sure the circuit breaker is flipped off for the outlet or area of your home so that electricity doesn’t continue to travel through the wiring.
Contact an electrician immediately. If a fire has resulted from the sparks shooting from your outlet, leave your home and contact 9-1-1 from a safe distance.
Other reasons to schedule an electrical inspection
In addition to the problems mentioned above, you should work with a professional electrician when you purchase a new home. Have the wiring and outlets in your new property inspected before you move in so that you can take care of potential problems and have a safe place for your family to live.