6 Things that Could Signal Electrical Wiring Problems
It’s good safety practice to do a walkthrough of your home once a year or so to see if there are any signs of deteriorating or damaged electrical circuitry. We rely on electricity for so many things, and we just expect it to be there when we need it. Electricity powering our household appliances generates heat in the wiring and fixtures. It’s good to pay attention to signs of damage that could result in a fire hazard.
-1- Tripping Circuit Breakers
Circuit breakers protect wiring and fixtures from excessive current draw and overheating. When they trip, it can be a one-off occurrence, such as plugging in an appliance that pulls more current than the circuit is designed to carry. Or, perhaps the appliance or motor has a defect that pulls too much current. Once the cause is corrected, the tripping breaker issue should be resolved.
Another reason breakers trip is that there is a problem somewhere in the circuit. It could be a short that is allowing current to go to ground and the breaker trips. Breakers are not switches designed for turning on and off, so multiple trips can weaken them and worsen the problem. However, the main issue is to locate the problem that is causing the overload before it creates a hazard or completely burns out a circuit.
-2- Frayed Wires
Over time, especially if other problems exist, wires can become worn from age or from the heat generated by current. They can harden and crack, or they can corrode. While much of your wiring is in the walls and not visible, you can pay attention to what you can see. If you notice any fraying wires, cracks or color changes along a wire, it could be a sign of problems.
-3- Noises from Wiring or Receptacles
If you hear buzzing, crackling, or popping noises coming from wiring or receptacles, you may have a serious problem. Sometimes you’ll only hear the noise when an appliance is running, and at other times it can be constant. Pay attention to any sounds coming from wiring or receptacles, as electrical circuits should not make any noises.
-4- Scorching or Heating Up of Wiring or Receptacles
Whether there is any noise or not, if you feel any heating up of wiring or receptacles it could signal a problem. Though slight warming under a load can be OK, if a wire or receptacle is hot to the touch you could have a developing problem. Should you see scorch marks, you definitely want to investigate the cause.
-5- Lights Dim at Times
If you turn on an appliance such as a microwave and any of your lights dim, it’s a sign of a circuit overload or inferior wiring. The same would apply if you are using a vacuum cleaner or other appliance and your lights dim when it’s turned on. Motors pull their highest amperage when they’re started, so that’s when you’d see the dimming. If you do, it would be a good time to call an electrician to check the circuit.
-6- Loose Connections
It’s a good idea to check, or have an electrician check your outlets and wiring for loose connections, especially if you are experiencing any of the above issues. Loose connections create hot spots when a load is placed on the circuit.
Being aware of the signs of electrical problems is your best protection and calling an electrician if you see any of the problems mentioned here is a good idea.