Think only older or poorly maintained homes encounter electrical problems? Think again. Unfortunately, even new and well-maintained homes may experience electrical problems that could wreak serious havoc if left unaddressed. However, if you know the warning signs of electrical problems, you're more likely to fix issues in time. Here are seven common signs your electrical wiring needs a second look:
1. Flickering Lights
Contrary to popular belief, flickering floor or overhead lighting usually isn't a problem with light fixtures, since they only use a limited amount of power. Instead, flickering lights often occur when lights are connected to the same power source as larger electronic appliances — those that take significant amounts of energy. If flickering lights become a regular problem, consult an electrician, who might be able to install a line solely for major electricity hogs.
2. Regular Circuit Breaker Overloads
Circuit breakers are designed to shut down automatically in order to prevent your electrical system from overheating. But if your circuit breaker seems to shut down regularly, you almost certainly have a problem. Your circuit breaker might be too old, especially if your home is more than thirty years old. If you regularly trip your circuit breaker, call an electrician; the repair or replacement of circuit breakers is quite complicated and should not be attempted without an expert.
3. Frayed or Chewed Wiring
Frayed or chewed wires are often the result of a rodent infestation. Unfortunately, in addition to hiring an exterminator, you'll need to consult an electrician about replacing the wiring in your home promptly. Damaged wires present a serious fire hazard.
4. Electrical Shocks
If you feel an electric shock when touching an appliance, there's likely a problem with your electrical wiring. Don't test other appliances or try to fix the issue, as you may end up seriously injuring yourself: call your electrician right away to get to the bottom of the problem.
5. Hot Outlets
Most appliances heat up when they're being used, but the outlets into which appliances are plugged should never get hotter. If an outlet radiates heat or is uncomfortably hot to the touch, there's likely a problem with your wiring. You should flip the breaker and remove the outlet fuse until an electrician can assess the situation.
6. Buzzing Noises or Vibrations
You probably already know this intuitively, but you shouldn't be able to hear electricity in your house! If you hear a buzzing noise that doesn't belong to one of your appliances or if you feel or see shocks or vibrations on appliances, there's a problem. Of course, the problem might be with that appliance: the easiest way to determine this is by testing that appliance on another power source, such as in a different part of your home or at a neighbor's home (if it's possible to move the device). If you can't move the appliance or there seems to be nothing wrong with it, call an electrician: your wiring is probably faulty.
7. Outlets Without Shock Protectors
Your bathroom and kitchen (as well as other areas in your home where water might run, such as a laundry room) should have shock-protected outlets, which will look different from regular outlets. These outlets — called ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) — have two small tester buttons near the center of the outlet. Regular outlets are at greater risk for electric shocks if used near sources of water.
Don’t wait for a minor electrical problem to become a major concern. If one or more of these issues arise, schedule a service with one of John C. Flood’s reliable service technicians, available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. One of our electricians can determine if faulty wiring is behind flickering lights, hot outlets, or vibrating appliances in your home — and they'll suggest the fastest and most affordable solution to get things back to normal.