Every year in the U.S., more than 46,000 residential fires are caused by electrical malfunction or failure.
Sometimes these malfunctions happen without warning. But in most cases, there are early signs that can indicate that your home is in trouble.
Knowing some of the common signs of electrical issues can help you spot an issue before it becomes a serious problem.
Keep reading to learn a few signs that it’s time to hire an electrician.
1. A Buzzing Sound in Your Walls
A faint buzzing sound coming from inside your walls can be easy to overlook. But often, this can indicate that you have an issue with your wires, outlets, or switches.
Usually, this issue sounds like a vibrating or buzzing that continues all day, every day, and seems to be coming from within your home’s walls. Start by trying to pinpoint where the sound is coming from. If you can isolate it to a single outlet or switch, it could mean that a screw or two has worked itself loose, and is causing the plate to rattle.
Other sources of a buzzing sound include an air vent that’s become loose, ceiling fans that hum, or even fluorescent light bulbs.
However, if the sound appears to come from deeper within your walls, it could indicate a wiring issue. If you can’t quickly pinpoint the cause, it’s best to call in the pros right away.
2. You're Moving Into a New Home
Moving into a new home usually comes with a long list of things to check on or do before you sign the dotted line. Getting the home’s electricity checked by a professional is yet another item on that list of important tasks.
Having an electrician give the home a thorough inspection can help set your mind at ease so that you won’t experience costly or dangerous issues after you move in.
3. There's a Mystery Burning Smell
Another dangerous sign that you could be having electrical problems in your home is an unexplained burning smell. This strange odor will usually come from an outlet or a specific appliance. It indicates that the appliance or outlet is malfunctioning and causing a short.
The first thing you should do is turn off the appliance, and unplug everything from that outlet. If the issue has caused smoke to rise from the outlet or visible burn damage, it’s best to turn off the breaker to that electrical outlet as well.
Once you’ve made sure that a fire isn’t imminent, call an electrician right away.
4. Lights That Flicker or Dim
Have you ever flipped on a blender or turned on a space heater, and watched the lights in that room flicker or dim? In some cases, this is simply a minor inconvenience and indicates that you’ve overloaded that outlet.
However, it can also be the first sign of a much larger problem.
Lights that flicker or dim frequently can indicate that the wires in your home are damaged or deteriorated. When the electrical signal can’t travel smoothly through the undamaged wire, the result is often a persistent flicker or sudden dimming.
If you ignore this issue, your wires may eventually break down to the point where you’ll lose power throughout your home.
When you call your local electrician, be prepared to describe when and where the flickering or dimming is occurring. This will help them to better locate the area they need to start in to get to the root of the problem.
5. Plugging in an Appliance Causes a Shock
This next sign that it’s time to search for an “electrician near me” is tough to overlook. You go to plug in an appliance and suddenly feel a small shock.
While the shock might not be enough to cause damage, it’s still a cause for concern. This usually means that you have faulty wiring somewhere along the line leading to that outlet.
This is one issue that you shouldn’t wait to call an electrician on.
6. You're Still Using an Outdated or Recalled Electrical Panel
Outdated electrical panels or ones that have been recalled can pose a serious safety risk in your home.
Most outdated or dangerous panels were produced prior to the 1980s or 90s. For instance, Federal Pacific Electric Panels, which were produced from the 1950s through the 90s, are known to be at risk of failure when a circuit becomes overloaded. Similarly, panels made by Zinsco, which were installed in homes in the 1970s, have design flaws that can cause corrosion, melting, and other issues.
More recently, more than 1.4 million breaker boxes produced and sold by Schneider Electric have been recalled because they have the potential to overheat and catch fire or cause burns. These boxes were produced between December 2019 and March 2020 and were recalled in June of 2022.
7. It's Time for a Remodel
If you’re planning to undergo a major remodel in one or more areas of your home, and that remodel involves moving wires, outlets, or switches, you’ll want to give your local electrician a call.
Trying to move or modify electrical components on your own, without experience, can result in a number of issues. The best-case scenario is that your switches or outlets don’t function properly. Worst case scenario, you wind up facing an electrical fire or exposed wires.
You don’t need to have a major project at hand to call in an electrician. We’re here to help with smaller jobs, too!
It's Time to Hire an Electrician
From a buzzing in your walls to outlets smoking, these are just a few of the signs that it’s time to hire an electrician.
If you think that you could be facing one or more of these issues in your home, don’t wait to call your local electrician. The faster you give them a call, the less risk of a small issue turning into a major, costly, or potentially dangerous problem.
Still not sure whether you need to call in the pros? Check out our electrical repair and installation services to learn more about how we can help in your home. At Doctor Fix It Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric, our Thorton, CO electrician experts are here for every need. From emergency repairs to remodeling projects and everything in between, give us a call for all of your electrical needs.