Signs of Electrical Problems in the Home
Electrical malfunctions are the second leading cause of house fires in the U.S., according to the National Fire Prevention Association. Electrical distribution, such as wiring and breaker boxes, are the cause of a significant portion of these fires.
That’s a grim statistic that could be lowered if homeowners became more aware of the warning signs of an outdated electrical system.
Learn about signs of bad wiring in a house before diving into the details further below.
- Experiencing frequent circuit breaker trips
- Finding damaged, frayed, or exposed wiring
- Dealing with dimming or flickering lights
- Uncovering smoke or scorch marks on outlets
- Realizing your outlets are warm to the touch
- Hearing weird noises, like buzzing or sizzling
- Owning an older home with aluminum wiring
1. Frequent Circuit Breaker Trips
It’s not uncommon for a circuit breaker to trip. This is especially true when you’re running multiple appliances from the same circuit. An overload is bound to occur at some point. However, frequent circuit breaker trips should raise a red flag. There could be a dangerous problem lurking in your home’s electrical wiring, or your electrical panel needs to be upgraded.
Electrical panels last about 25 to 40 years. Outdated panels can’t keep up with the electrical demands of today’s homes. If you’re installing new appliances, such as a larger refrigerator or hot tub, it’d be wise to upgrade to a 200 amp electrical panel.
2. Frayed Wiring
You should never ignore fray wiring. If a wall is exposed during a remodeling project and you see that the wiring is frayed, contact an electrician because this is a dangerous fire and shock hazard.
3. Dimming Lights
During a powerful thunderstorm or windy weather, it’s not out of the norm from your lights to flicker on and off. A tree branch may have fallen on a nearby power line. If your lights begin to flicker on a regular day, your home’s electrical wiring may need to be upgraded. The old wiring may not be able to handle the increased energy demands of your home.
4. Smoke and Outlet Discoloration
If you have started to smell or see smoke in your home, don’t wait to take action. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. After further investigating the issue, you may also notice signs of damage. Scorch marks on an outlet should immediately catch your attention. There could be loose wiring inside the outlet, causing an arc. To be on the safe side, be sure to unplug all of your appliances until an electrician arrives.
5. Warm, Vibrating Outlets
When close to an outlet, take note of a warming feeling. A properly functioning outlet should be cool to the touch. You may also notice a vibration coming from the outlet. Damaged wiring is likely the culprit. Waiting to address the issue is not an option. If a cord plugged into the wire happens to catch on fire, your home could become completely engulfed.
6. Strange Noises from Outlets & Fixtures
You can use your ears to uncover a potential wiring problem. Often, homeowners will hear a buzzing or sizzling sound coming from an outlet. Light fixtures can also produce an electric noise. While replacing the bulb may solve the issue, you can’t rule out bad wiring as the culprit.
7. Old Aluminum Wiring
If your home was built during the late ’60s or early ’70s, it’s time to have its wiring updated. Many homes of this era featured aluminum wiring. Unfortunately, research shows that buildings with aluminum wiring are more than 50 times more likely to experience fire damage. Copper wiring is safer because it is more resistant to heat.
Bottom line: If you’re uncertain about the condition of your home’s electrical system, schedule a professional home safety inspection. Our electrical inspections identify and correct malfunctions and safety hazards in your Massachusetts home’s wire integrity, panel functionality, GFCI protection, and more.