Have you ever encountered electricity-related issues at home? How did you manage the problem? Did you Google or watch a video tutorial on YouTube and tried to solve the issue by yourself OR did you call for licensed electricians? We sure hope that you did the latter. Because if there is one thing that we know for sure, electricity is never a simple issue.
As a fair warning, never attempt to DIY electrical work. It is dangerous and trying to solve an electrical issue can lead you to not only burned fingers, but it can be lethal to those who don’t have the expertise and experience.
In addition, it can lead to fire, meaning bigger property damage and more money out of your pocket plus electrical DIYs are actually illegal and can jeopardize possible insurance claims.
So, what should you do in case of an electrical problem? Call a licensed electrician.
They are fully equipped and trained to “shield” you from danger, take on the risky task and save you from the bigger problem. (Trivia: Did you know that professional electricians need to have at least 4 years of training as an apprentice first? That’s hours after hours of experience with all types of electrical issues. In addition, they also need to have a license in the city they are working in.) If you want to read about what a professional electrician can do, read here.
As a homeowner, you should know how to recognize the red flags on when to call in an expert electrician near you. Here are some warning signs telling you that you need to hire an electrician:
1. Consistent tripping of your circuit breaker
Never ignore this. While we may experience tripping in a circuit breaker occasionally, it is another news altogether if your circuit breaker keeps on tripping. It is actually a sign of a bigger issue in terms of your wiring and is usually related to overloading (usually when there are too many high-power devices used at the same time), or there is a short in the wiring.
You may need to upgrade your circuit breaker or repair some circuit wiring, either way, you will definitely need a licensed electrician. Warning, if ignored, it may cause an electrical fire!
2. Burnt smell but can’t identify the source
If you walk into one of your rooms and there is that persistent burning smell but you can’t find the source, then it must be coming from behind the walls. There are several possible reasons for this, from old wiring to short circuits.
Or if ever you can identify the unusual smell and be able to track it to an electrical outlet or a fuse box, turn off the power immediately and call in the pros. In addition, if you also notice any discoloration in your outlets and not just the smell, then it means that there is burning behind your walls with faulty wiring causing sparking or small fires.
Whether you can identify the source or not, a burnt smell means that a fire can spark any moment.
3. Signs of deterioration in your main service panel
Your main service panel is the “heart” of your home’s electricity. With this, any signs of deterioration or visible damage or wear and tear, like rust, should warrant a call to your trusted electrician.
They will be able to identify if your service panel needs repair or you need a new one installed.
4. Too much usage of extension cord
Extension cords are not meant to be used for a long period. If you have multiple extension cords in a room, you are plugging it into power strips or if it’s a permanent fixture in your rooms then these are a clear indication that you have an insufficient number of outlets at home.
The number of outlets in a room should be targeted to meet the needs of your family. A licensed electrician can install the required outlets in areas where outlets are lacking. Not only will it be convenient for your family to have additional outlets, but it’s also safer.
5. Your outlet is warm or hot to touch
A hot or warm outlet is never a good sign. It indicates an overloaded circuit or faulty wiring.
Also, carefully observe if your outlet is warm on a specific device only, this could mean that that particular device needs a dedicated circuit.
An electrician will be able to properly assess the issue
6. You live in an old house
If your house was built 20 years ago or even older than that, chances are the electrical system is not upgraded and definitely out of date. The electrical standards that we have now are fairly different from the practices when your home was built.
Example of possible issues:
- Your wiring system is not grounded, meaning the outlets that you have are only two-prong and not suitable for three-prong appliances (this can cause an electric shock).
- You have outdated wiring that won’t be able to handle the electrical load of modern appliances, which the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has warned against.
- Another issue is that your home is not coded in compliance, as it won’t have Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) in areas near water sources.
A schedule with a licensed electrician is needed, as you may need an electrical overhaul or additional safety features.
7. Flickering dimming light bulbs or light bulbs not lasting
LED lights are wonderful and energy-efficient plus they also last longer than the conventional ones. But if you notice that your bulbs don’t last or are flickering, then it could be an issue with your socket or circuit.
You could always replace your light bulbs, but it is just a band-aid solution. It will be best to call an electrician to identify and solve the issue.
8. You are moving into a new house
Congratulations on your new home! But before moving in or hopefully before signing any paperwork, let a licensed electrician scan the electrical condition of your home.
Your hired electrician will be able to spot any possible issues so that even before moving to your new home, give out recommendations and repair/replace if needed. This means that your family’s safety is guaranteed.
9. You experience frequent shocks (even minor ones)
Have you experienced turning on a light switch then getting unexpectedly shocked? Sure, pain from the majority of electrical shocks will go away quickly but this shouldn’t be ignored. This means that the electricity from your circuit is escaping. It could also escalate into a fire.
Do not investigate the possible cause, instead turn off the switch and call your electrician ASAP to avoid a much more serious injury or destruction to property.
10. Rodents chewing on wires
Damages caused by rodents chewing on your wiring can cause an electrical fire or problem with your system. Aside from solving your rodent issue (Call pest control!), you should also call in an electrician to assess the damage and provide a solution.
11. Sparking outlets
A sparking outlet should never be taken lightly because it means that something is up with your electrical system. There are several possible reasons for the spark like short circuits, negligent repairs, exposure to water, and old outlets. Call a certified electrician to solve the problem.
12. Installations or repairs related to electricity
Never DIY anything related to electricity (aside from probably replacing a light bulb). It may seem easy when you watch YouTube videos but installations should be taken seriously.
Examples of these installations or repairs are electrical outlet installation, smart home installation, putting up a new ceiling fan, repairing a light fixture, home remodeling projects, adding in whole-house surge protection, putting in some pool lighting, and installation of the electrical panel.
You may think that you are saving a few bucks but in reality, you are making a risky move that could endanger your family, plus bear in mind that it is illegal and non-compliance with building codes.
13. If you are unsure about anything related to electricity…
If you notice something unusual and it is not part of this list, don’t hesitate to call in the pros. You are not an electrician and trained to handle possible electrical issues.
A good rule of thumb is to never wait, as it is better to be sure than to risk your safety.
Electricity is very useful and something that we can’t live without in this modern age. It is relatively easy to forget that electricity is dangerous and quite complex. It can cause serious injury and death. A simple mistake can lead to serious problems. So, anything that involves electricity should only be handled by a licensed electrician. Do not risk your family’s safety and call in the pros.
Pro tip: make sure that the electrician that you will hire has a valid license and ask for their specialty (e.g., if they are expert for residential homes). Also, when you have agreed on a project, don’t forget to ask if they offer a warranty and if they have liability insurance.