How to Spot Faulty Wiring in Your Home

Faulty electrical wires are a huge trigger for many household fires today. Old, defective, unprotected, or poorly maintained wiring isn't something you should brush off. Luckily, you don't have to wait until a fire occurs for you to take action. Some telltale signs can indicate when you have faulty wiring so you can take proper preventive measures. 

Watch out for these three signs to spot faulty wiring. 

Outlet Issues

Do your electrical outlets feel hot when you touch them? Do you notice a slight vibration? An outlet shouldn't have any of these issues. So, if your outlets exhibit these signs, you have faulty wiring in your home. 

You should unplug any connected devices and contact a residential electrician to assess your electrical system. Also, if your power outlets have scorch marks or discoloration, you may have damaged wiring underneath that might be generating heat. 

Sometimes, incorrect wiring close to the outlet or a loose switch connection can cause a short circuit. As a result, your outlet arcs and makes a small fire that chars or discolors its surface. You should replace the wiring immediately to avert an otherwise avoidable electrical catastrophe. 

Burning Odor

A burning odor (like burning plastic) is an obvious sign of defective wiring. Try to use your nose to sniff out smoky, burning, or unusual odors that emanate from your electric panel or your power outlets. 

A burning odor occurs when wires get too hot and melt the protective sheath. Without the sheath, the wires touch each other and can cause power outages, short circuits, or even fires.

Other electrical problems that cause odd odors are:

  • Undersized wires
  • Overloaded circuits 
  • Faulty outlets that spark or arc frequently

Once you notice a strange smell in an outlet, you should cut off power to it and disconnect any plugged-in devices. Then, bring in a professional electrician to assess the issue. Also, if your breaker panel or fuse box produces an unusual odor, schedule an electrical system inspection right away to uncover the cause.  

Tripping Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers trip to protect you from electrical hazards. When the electric current exceeds the amount a circuit can handle, these breakers will trip. Oftentimes, you can just reset your circuit breaker and continue to use your electricity. However, if your breaker trips regularly, you might have a circuit issue that an experienced electrician should check out. 

If your circuit breaker trips every time you plug in a high-draw appliance (such as a hairdryer or vacuum cleaner) on any outlet, that appliance is often the most likely culprit. But if usage of a single outlet results in a tripped breaker, you may have an overloaded circuit somewhere in your home. 

Faulty wiring puts you and your home at risk of electrical hazards. So, if you notice any of these warning signs, bring in an electrician to inspect and rewire your home.