If there’s one thing we can’t live without, it’s electricity. Sometimes we take for granted how much we use the power that runs through wires, circuits, and cables, and when our power goes out, we wonder what we are going to do with it. To make sure that a loss of power never catches you off-guard, you should be aware of the signs and symptoms of wiring in need of an update.
Just a quick note before we continue: by now, you may be thinking, “Why spend money to get someone to come fix my wiring when I can just do it myself?” As capable as you may be, if there’s one thing you should never attempt without proper experience and training, it’s electrical wiring. One little mistake could not only cause you harm, but it may even cause further damage to your home, so leave it to the professionals. Now, back to your scheduled programming.
Here are 10 signs that your home in Charlotte, North Carolina, needs new electrical wiring.
Tripping Circuit Breaker
Have you ever had that one appliance that randomly stopped working, and you just went and flipped the switch on the circuit breaker marked “kitchen” off and then on again? This may have been an easy fix, or maybe the same problem keeps happening again and again. If either scenario is the case in your home, it means that the circuit is in some way overloaded. A licensed professional can come and assess the load assigned to the circuit and determine what measures can be taken to better balance the load.
Static electrical build-up always surprises us, especially when we make contact with a conductive surface and receive a nice jolt. However, if you’re receiving more of a shock when touching an outlet or light switch, there may be an issue. Old or damaged wiring can cause shorts in the outlet or whatever is plugged in. If you unplug your device and the outlet still shocks you, chances are there’s a short. Again, don’t try to remove the switch or outlet on your own. A short in the circuit is especially likely to cause harm to you or start an electrical fire if not handled properly.
The smell of smoke in your home is always cause for alarm. Fortunately, the burning smell of a short or other electrical problems is distinct and easy to pick up (it’s a very strong, acrid smell, different than other smoky smells). Unfortunately, if you’re smelling that smell, it’s a bad sign. Not only does it mean your wiring is old and in need of an update, but it also means that something has already gone very wrong. Don’t panic, though, just call the electrician immediately and have a fire extinguisher at the ready until the electrician arrives.
You may pick up this burning smell after you’ve plugged something into an outlet, turned on a device plugged into an outlet, or flipped a switch. However, you may smell it even if you haven’t done any of these things. Once again, do not attempt to fix this on your own unless you possess an advanced level of experience with electrical wiring, even though you may be concerned (and with good reason). The best action you can take is to turn off your circuit breaker, cutting off the electrical flow to whatever way be shorting. After that, there’s nothing to do until the electrician arrives. Just take a deep breath and sit tight.
Dim or Flickering Lights
If you’ve continually replaced a dim lightbulb more often than should be necessary, the light bulb may not be the problem. While dim or flickering lights may happen occasionally as a circuit adjusts to a load (even on a completely healthy circuit), if it happens more than just every so often, it could be a sign of something worse. Faulty old wiring or a circuit that cannot adequately manage the load can cause lights to dim and flicker. Any and all of these things will require the attention of a trained electrician.
Light bulbs always get hot, but that doesn’t mean that everything around them should be hot, too. If the fixtures around your lightbulbs are getting too warm, it could mean either that the fixture is not well-insulated or it’s overheating due to wattage that’s too high. Call an electrician as soon as possible after discovering this issue. An overheating fixture can lead to an electrical fire.
Discolored or Burned Outlets and Switches
Have you noticed that your outlets and switches have slowly become discolored or even burned? This is another major indicator of a situation that should be addressed immediately. In most cases, it’s not the switch or outlet itself that is the problem, but rather the wiring leading to it. Frayed and faulty wiring or a loose connection can lead to a short that causes a brief little arc and a fire that burns the outlet or switch. Most of the time, these initial fires burn out (that’s why you may not always smell that acrid burned stench we mentioned earlier), but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored. After all, it’s likely to happen again.
Another symptom of shorts is a buzzing outlet or switch. In this case, there may also be a loose connection that is causing the wire to arc, just as in the case mentioned above. Buzzing requires immediate attention, too.
Light Switches and Outlets that Stopped Working
It can be easy to ignore an outlet that has stopped working (or that only works sometimes) and move on to another outlet. However, this isn’t a problem you should just avoid. There could be a multitude of reasons these fixtures aren’t functioning properly, from loose connections to old wiring, but avoiding the issue could lead to further damage. Contact your licensed electrician to explore your options.
Dropping HVAC Efficiency
If you’re feeling less comfortable even when you’re running your heater or air conditioning the same way you’ve been running it for years, there could be an issue in the wiring of your HVAC system. Not only is faulty wiring in an HVAC system as dangerous as faulty wiring anywhere else in your house, but it may also require your system to put in more effort for less noticeable results, leading to lower efficiency and a higher utility bill.
Rodent infestations are many people’s worst nightmare, but they probably happen more often than one might expect. Rodents making a home in the walls of your house may cause damage to your wiring, as well. Rodents love to chew on exposed wires and cables. If you’ve spotted rodent droppings or are aware of any in your home, get rid of the rodents, then check your wiring to ensure that all is well.
Wires aren’t built to take a lot of hits. Even what we may think of as a minimal amount of damage could cause a wire to fray. Frayed wires lead to loose connections and even more potentially dangerous situations. You may not always be able to tell if a wire is frayed, but if there is any question, then it’s worth considering a check-up from an electrician.
Be especially careful when doing any kind of DIY home improvement work. You may accidentally damage or fray a wire while pounding a nail or inserting a screw in the wall (since most of your home’s wiring runs up and down the wall at some point). When considering home improvement, be aware of spots where there may be wiring, such as near an outlet, switch, or any kind of ductless HVAC equipment. When it comes to electricity, you can never be too careful.
There you have it – 10 signs that your home needs new electrical wiring. We can’t overstate the importance of electrical maintenance performed by licensed professionals. As proficient as you may be, this isn’t the kind of task you should take on by yourself. Instead, for any of your electrical or HVAC needs, give Ross & Witmer a call at 704-392-6188.