Electrical issues can be somewhat unpredictable. One moment you’re watching television and everything’s fine, then the next moment you’re in the dark. As you’re fumbling around for the flashlight, you wonder what could’ve happened. Maybe your lights have been flickering for a few weeks, but you didn’t really pay much attention to it. Maybe your hair dryer keeps turning off by itself. Don’t worry, it’s highly unlikely that you have a poltergeist. Instead, it’s more likely that you have one of these 6 common electrical problems around the house.
1. Incessant Buzzing Noises
This sound is one of the most annoying sounds on the planet. No matter what you do, you can’t seem to get away from the buzzing noise and you can’t seem to tell where exactly it’s coming from. There’s something called “mains hum”, which tends to occur at about 60 hertz. This is normal and usually happens with large appliances like refrigerators. However, buzzing is different and may or may not be normal. It usually occurs at 120-180 hertz. There are several potential reasons for buzzing in your home. It may be a wiring problem, for example, overloaded wires. Wires are designed to carry certain voltages, and if too much voltage comes through a wire, it may buzz. Secondly, you may have an overloaded circuit breaker. Some circuit breakers are equipped with an automatic shutoff if they start to get overloaded. Others try to deal with the overload as best as they can and begin buzzing and even sparking. You should shut off your electricity immediately if that happens and call an electrician who specializes in residential electrical repairs to replace the breaker.
2. Repeated Blown Fuses
A “blown” fuse is technically a burned-out fuse. The phrase “blew a fuse” makes it sound like the fuse blows up or explodes, but this is inaccurate. A fuse is a small piece of metal ribbon threaded through a ceramic piece that fits into a fuse panel. When too much electricity passes through the metal ribbon, it actually melts and the fuse dies, or “blows”. If you’re having repeated blown fuses, you may be asking too much of your electrical system. If you have too many appliances running at once on a consistent basis, that’s a recipe for blown fuses. This is referred to as an overload. To fix an overload, you typically need to replace the blown fuse (a residential electrical repair you can most likely perform on your own) and take care not to overload the system again. Another potential cause is a short-circuit, and this takes a bit more time and effort to fix. A short-circuit happens when something in your home is wired badly or a hot wire touches the grounding pathway. Unfortunately, a short-circuit can’t be fixed by simply installing a new fuse, as it’ll just blow out again. You’ll need to call an electrician for that one.
3. Burning Smells
You should never, ever ignore a burning smell in your home. There are some causes of burning smells that are fairly innocuous, but it can potentially indicate a serious problem, so don’t take it lightly! The first step is to figure out where the burning smell is coming from. Is it coming from the heating vent? An outlet? Is it basically everywhere, but stronger in one spot than another? If it’s coming from the heating vent, monitor it carefully. It may be some dust or grime that’s accumulated in the ducts, especially if this is the first time you’ve run the heating in a while. If it goes away after a bit, you probably don’t need to worry. However, if it’s coming from an outlet, check the outlet carefully. If you see scorch marks or smoke damage, call an electrician right away and do not use the outlet. You may have some faulty wiring and it could cause a fire.
4. Sparks or Arcs
Most of us are familiar with the word “spark,” but you may or may not know what an arc is. A spark is a momentary electric discharge, like what happens when you get shocked in the winter. An arc is like a continuous spark. If you’ve ever seen a Van de Graaff generator, sometimes referred to as a “plasma ball,” an arc is what’s happening inside that ball. Arcs and sparks can happen inside your home, especially around electrical outlets. Sparks actually happen every time you plug something in. They happen when the electricity begins to conduct through the metal plug to the wire. These sparks will be small, blue in color, and last only a second. It’s time to get concerned when you see sparks that don’t go away in a brief second, are coming out of holes in the outlet, are yellow or white in color, or produce a burning smell.
5. Loose Power Outlets
Power outlets usually come loose because the electrical box they’re attached to is installed too far back in the wall. Unfortunately, this can be dangerous. The electrical box, if it’s too far back, isn’t very secure and can jostle or break wires set back in the wall. This can cause sparking, arcs, and/or fires. Meanwhile, if your plugs are falling out of the outlet, this means that the outlet receptacle (the part of the outlet that you plug things into) is worn out and needs to be replaced. This may sound like an easy job, but like most residential electrical repairs, it does involve some re-wiring. It’s best to have an electrician do it.
6. Small Shocks When Unplugging Things
Shocks when unplugging things are relatively common. Be careful not to touch the metal prongs of a plug when unplugging something- instead, touch those metal prongs to an item such as a couch or even the wall in order to discharge the leftover electricity. However, other issues such as bad wiring can lead to shocks where there shouldn’t be any. If you aren’t grabbing the metal prongs but are still getting shocked, call an electrician and have them come check the outlet.
Are You Having Electrical Issues?
When your home needs fast, high-quality service, you can count on Stack Heating, Cooling, & Electric! Our team of experts is ready to help you with a wide variety of repairs, replacements, tune-ups, and all types of residential electrical repairs. We want you to know that your family’s safety and comfort is our number one priority, as it always has been. We are taking all necessary precautions and following CDC guidelines to keep our customers and employees healthy. We’ve been serving the Cleveland area for over 40 years, and we’re not going anywhere. Give us a call at (440) 937-9134 or visit us on our website today and find out what we can do for you!