Electrical service in our homes is an example of one of the safest, most extraordinary forms of technology. It brings us comfort and convenience. But, it also bring some inherent dangers. These dangers nearly always provide an alert to the homeowner prior to a fire. Knowing what to look for can protect you and your property.
So, when should you be alarmed?
- Two prong outlets. There is no reason for a home to have two prong outlets at this point in time. They’re dangerous because they’re out of date and so often invite the homeowner to use a three-to-two adapter, most of which aren’t used correctly. Call your electrician and make this easy upgrade.
- A burning smell. If you detect an odor of anything burning, whether it smells electrical or plastic, stop whatever you’re doing and find the source. Whatever it is--be it a switch, wiring, or an outlet--is a fire trying to start. Turn off the power and call an electrician.
- A warm switch. Switches are designed to be cool to the touch. If you feel a warm switch, or if there is a blackened area around it, or if you notice the plug of an appliance has a burned appearance or has melted even a little, there is an immediate problem.
- A shock, even a small one. Safe electrical appliances should never give off a shock. Although, it should also be noted that sometimes homeowners will pick up static electricity and if the lamp or other item is the first thing they touch, they will mistake it for an appliance shock.
- Repetitive circuit breaker tripping of blown fuse. Sometimes a person will plug in their toaster and a space heater, or a hair dryer and a curling iron, and the excessive draw (heat appliances do) will trip the breaker. But, if the circuit breaker trips repeatedly, it means something is amiss. It could be the wiring, the breaker box, or a number of other things. This is a job for a pro.
- Flickering lights. This is a cry for help from your electrical system. Whether it’s caused by turning on another appliance in your home, or happens randomly, flickering lights are a warning which shouldn't be ignored.
- Crackling or popping sounds. Electrical systems are silent. Any sounds coming from your wiring or plugs should be investigated immediately.
- Sparking or exposed wires. Any sparking from any part of your wiring is problematic. Exposed wires, which are frequently caused by gnawing pets or rodents, also need to be replaced.
These are the reasons, without exception, to call an electrician immediately. Arranging for service or upgrades to these hazards will put you back on the road to safe electrical power.