Close calls such as burnt outlets, strange smells, and concerning noises, on the other hand, are a job for an emergency electrician.
Learn more about when to call an emergency electrician and what classifies as an electrical emergency in this guide from Same Day Pros.
When Should You Call an Emergency Electrician?
No matter the warning signs, it is always better safe than sorry to call an emergency electrician in times of doubt.
If you smell acrid odors or are concerned about how your electrical system is behaving, it is reason enough to call an electrician. (1) Despite it being such a prevalent resource in your home, it should be treated with extreme caution as a fire risk or shock hazard when something goes awry.
Electricity is quite possibly the most important resource in today’s modern world. And since many people live (as well as work) out of their homes now, electricity to the individual user is more important than ever.
If you can remedy the issue immediately by turning off the electrical circuit to that part of the building, then you may not need immediate service. However, with more severe symptoms or fire hazards in play, it is critical that you call an emergency electrician who can arrive the same day or over the weekend.
What Do You Do in an Electrical Emergency?
In case of an active fire, you should call the appropriate emergency services and evacuate yourself and all loved ones and pets from the building.
In an electrical emergency that doesn’t require immediate attention from first responders, you should call your local master electrician for advice and prompt electrical inspection.
If you don’t know who to call, Same Day Pros can help you find an emergency electrician in your area today.
What is an Electrical Emergency?
An electrical emergency is anything that makes your home’s electrical system into a potential fire hazard or safety hazard in any way. This could be anything from exposed wires to a frayed cord, an overloaded circuit or burnt outlets.
In the world of electricity, many of the wires are hidden behind walls and in hard-to-reach areas. It might not be obvious when something goes wrong, so it is important to be wary of anything that doesn’t seem right, whether it is strange smells, strange noises, or unusual electrical behavior.
Is a Short Circuit an Emergency?
A short circuit is considered an emergency as a short can quickly turn into a home fire. In fact, short circuits are one of the primary cause of home fires. When a short circuit happens, the wires become hot or send off sparks that can catch on the insulation on the inside of the wall, or on furniture or flooring, quickly causing a flame to spark to life.
What Are the Signs of a Short Circuit?
Often, signs of a short circuit can be obvious, such as sparks visibly coming from the outlet or other electrical panel. Other signs aren’t so overt, like buzzing or popping sounds coming from the outlet where the wiring is encased or burn marks or acrid odors in the vicinity of the affected outlet.
Short circuits become more common after the wiring is 15-25 years or older; to prevent short circuits, you should update the home’s wiring every decade or when your electrician recommends it.
Is a Tripped Breaker an Emergency?
A tripped breaker is not often considered an emergency as the breaker has triggered the safety shut-off for before a circuit overload could happen. It is, however, important not to use that circuit with a level of electricity that could continue to trip the breaker as this could wear out over time.
If you need to use more appliances, you will need to either locate a different circuit that suits the appliances, or upgrade the capacity your electrical circuits can handle throughout the home.
Why Would a Breaker Trip in the Middle of the Night?
There are several reasons why a breaker might trip in the middle of the night. The most common reason is that there is a large appliance that kicks on throughout the day, such as a refrigerator or AC unit that might not be in use often.
There might also be a ground fault somewhere in the wiring that keeps causing the circuit breaker to trip periodically, though this might not happen just in the middle of the night.
You may also find a short circuit somewhere along the wiring or in an appliance, or the circuit may be overloaded.
Keep an Eye Out for These Warning Signs
There are several warning signs that you should keep an eye out for when looking for an electrical emergency. These warning signs are symptoms of something that has gone wrong in the internal circuitry, not a preliminary effect.
In other words, as soon as you see any of these warning signs, you should contact an emergency electrician immediately and turn off the circuit breaker to that area of the home as the problem can quickly get out of hand.
Burning or Acrid Odor and Hot Outlets
A burning or acrid odor is often a sign that something within the walls have been singed or are slowly burning through. Whether it is because of a stray electrical spark or wires that have worn down enough to produce heat, this is a serious sign indicating an immediate fire hazard.
Hot outlets are another warning sign that you should never ignore, as this means that the connection to the outlets are uninsulated or may even have a loose connection, preventing you from being able to have that outlet safely connected. It does not matter whether the outlet is in use or not, as electricity is flowing to that area so long as it is turned on at the fuse box.
Frequent Circuit Breaker Trips
The circuit breaker is the central point within your home that controls how the electricity is divided. Often, when plugging in seasonal items that exceed the typical output of that outlet, the circuit breaker will trip. This prevents the outlet from overloading and causing a fire.
Over time, if you have multiple trips on the same circuit, the wires can wear out. If your circuit breaker keeps tripping, you should schedule an appointment with an electrician so that they can safely replace any short circuits or ground faults.
Essentially, when you plug something in that exceeds the circuit’s capacity for electricity, the circuit breaker stops electricity to that area to prevent larger problems across the home’s grid. If you continue to overuse the capacity of the circuit, it may be a sign that it’s time to upgrade.
Stained Outlets, Switches, or Other Components
If you notice any kind of stain along your outlet, switches, or other electrical components such as wall lights, appliance connections, or extension cords, you should immediately cut off electricity to that circuit.
These stains are often brown and may be able to be wiped away from the surface but doing so won’t fix the problem. Originating from inside the wall, this could be a burn mark from faulty wiring, an electrical spark, or a socket with too much electricity in the circuit.
Leaving the socket or component on is a serious fire hazard, and once electricity has been shut off to that circuit, you should call an emergency electrician as soon as possible to inspect the fixture.
Flickering and Dimming Lights
We’ve all seen the lights flicker or dim a little when a large appliance turns on, especially HVAC systems which require a lot of electricity to start up. If the lights return to normal, it’s no big deal, but it’s when the lights stay dimmed that you could be seeing a sign of electrical overload.
Likewise, if the lights tend to dim or flicker without large appliances turning on, it’s important to have an electrician take a look at the problem and assess the state of the home or business’ electrical system. (2)
Before calling an electrician for a problem, run through all of the basic possible causes. If a light’s not working, try more than one bulb — you might be working with bad bulbs.
Flickering in one or two lights may also be the result of a dying bulb or a bulb that was not screwed in tightly. Before you call an electrician, check the lightbulb to ensure that it is tightly screwed in; if that doesn’t work, try a new bulb. This quick at-home check can help ensure that you don’t pay for an expensive visit when you don’t have to.
Buzzing or Humming Noises
While it might not be cause for immediate concern say, if you have fluorescent lighting in the building, some buzzing or humming noises can be a serious warning sign of electrical emergency.
While some humming noises are harmless, it may be a sign of bad wiring or electrical failure, especially if it comes on suddenly or immediately after any electrical work has been performed.
If the buzzing is located near an outlet and it gets louder as you plug in more appliances, immediately remove any plugs from the outlet and contact an emergency electrician.
It can be normal for some circuit breakers to create a low-level background hum, but if it begins buzzing noticeably or differently than normal, you should consult an emergency electrician as the circuit breaker may be overloaded.
How to Find an Emergency Electrician
Chances are, you don’t have the number to an emergency electrician on your refrigerator. When you do need their services, however, it can be a scramble to find someone who can get the job done as quickly as possible.
Instead of spending hours searching on the internet or finding word of mouth referrals from friends and neighbors, Same Day Pros has provided a directory of professional services near you, all at the tip of your fingers. All you must do is search for a service, enter your location, and tap or click to start comparing different professionals.
Don’t Hesitate to Call an Emergency Electrician
If you believe you are dealing with an electrical emergency, don’t hesitate to call an electrician to handle the problem for you. Trying to repair your own electrical problems can lead to serious injury or fire hazards that could have been prevented with the help of a knowledgeable professional.
Looking for an emergency electrician, but not sure who to use in your area? Same Day Pros can help. Using our online directory of professional services, you can find an electrician near you in no time. We’ll help you find an electrician who can help you no matter what your problem is, the very same day.
Don’t need emergency electrician services? We can help you find an electrician on a schedule that works for you with services that fit your budget.
- Forbes, How to Find The Best Electricians Near You, https://www.forbes.com/home-improvement/home/best-electrician-near-me/
- Huffpost, Secrets of an Electrician, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/secrets-of-an-electrician_b_10259578