Whether you live in an older building or just experienced a major natural disaster, your home’s electrical system could have some safety issues that need addressing. When electrical safety issues are ignored, the results can be disastrous, ranging from electrocution to house fires.
If your home is giving you any of the “red flags” below, it’s time to contact an electrician.
Hot Light Switches or Outlets
Your outlets and light switches should feel room temperature and should never be hot to the touch. A hot outlet or light switch could mean that there is an overloaded circuit or that there’s a problem with wetness, loose wires, or corroded wires.
Note: The exception to this rule are dimmer switches, which can feel warm to the touch and still be okay. If a dimmer switch in your home is hot, contact an electrician.
A Popping or Crackling Noise Coming from A Circuit Breaker
When a circuit breaker is making a popping or crackling noise, you can bet that there’s some electrical “arcing” going on in your circuit breaker panel. Electricity arcs (or jumps) from point to point typically because something isn’t connected properly, or the wire insulation has worn out. When arcing happens in a circuit breaker, there may also be a problem with the breaker itself.
Scorch Marks, Melted Wires, And Burning Smells
Power surges that occur during and after a storm can compromise your home’s wires, electrical panel, and other electrical components. Evidence of a power surge includes damaged appliances, melted wires, and scorch marks around outlets and switches.
Power surges are common occurrences during storms for a couple of reasons. Lightning strikes near your home can send extra electricity through your electrical system. When power returns after an outage, the sudden rush of electricity to fill all the empty wires can exceed the normal electrical current that flows through your home.
Watch out for odors like burning rubber or melting plastic in your home or scorch marks around outlets. If it smells like something is burning, turn off the power to that circuit on your circuit breaker panel as soon as possible and call an electrician.
We’re not talking about a small static electricity “zap.” A shock is more jarring and can leave a tingling feeling in the fingers and arm of whatever hand touched the object that shocked you. If you receive a shock from things like your light fixtures, plumbing pipes, and HVAC ductwork, it’s very possible that your home’s electrical system is not properly grounded.