Faulty wiring can be very dangerous. In the United States, wiring problems are responsible for tens of thousands of house fires every year. Fortunately, the majority of wiring-related accidents could be prevented by inspecting for faulty wiring and fixing it before a major issue emerges. The following faulty electrical wiring signs will help you find and address problems.
1) Visibly Damaged Wiring
It may seem obvious that any visible wire damage is a problem. However, many people overlook seemingly minor damage thinking that it won’t cause an issue. Even if the wire is mostly in good shape, it is better to fix it promptly than risk the potentially serious consequences.
Some issues to look out for include frayed wire ends. Another common problem is bite marks on the wiring. Bitten wires often look fine other than some cosmetic damage. However, sharp teeth can often sink a lot deeper than you may expect. If you find a home pest problem, consider checking the nearby wiring carefully for any damage.
2) Scorching or Discoloration
Look at outlet points around the property. Any strange colors, scorching or other evidence of burning indicate that there are some electrical problems.
Typically, this means that the wiring connected to the outlet is getting overly hot. You may also notice distortion of the faceplate of the outlet. Similarly, if you can feel heat coming from the outlet, that is a clear indication that it is heating up.
It probably comes as no surprise that hot electrical wiring is a bad thing. While it is normal for wiring to get slightly warm when used consistently, it should not be so hot that it is uncomfortable or that it causes any damage to the outlet plate. Stop using the outlet immediately and try to find the problem.
3) Frequent Blown Fuses/Breaker
If the fuse keeps blowing or the breaker keeps tripping on a circuit, that is a sign that something isn’t right. It could simply be an indication that you are overloading the circuit. However, good wiring should make this relatively difficult to do under normal operation. So, it could be a sign that there is a wiring problem.
In a well-wired property, using every outlet on a circuit should only be an issue if you are using an appliance or other item that has very high power demands. Typically, appliances such as dryers and HVAC are wired on special circuits to accommodate this demand.
Another reason you may be causing the breaker to trip is that there are too many multi-outlet extension cords on the same circuit. Again, this won’t usually be a problem unless you are egregiously overloading the circuit. If there are no obvious excess demands, there may be an issue with the circuit.
4) Excessively Messy Wiring
Electricians don’t need to make their wiring completely neat when they install it. There are no technical benefits to organized wiring nor drawbacks to messy wires. So, a little disorder isn’t necessarily anything to worry about.
However, the organization of the wires speaks somewhat to the quality of the work. Someone who is meticulous about keeping things orderly is more likely to be careful with the wiring. Conversely, an excessive mess may indicate a slapdash job. This is not a hard and fast rule, but it can be an indicator.
5) Unusual Sounds
Another one of the most important faulty electrical wiring signs is sound. In particular, buzzing is an indication that something is amiss. Normally, an electrical current should produce no noise that is audible to the human ear. However, when a wire is damaged, a prong is loose or some other issue exists, the current may jump and creating a buzzing noise.
You may also be able to hear your lights flickering even if you can’t see the problem. This indicates that the current isn’t quite flowing smoothly. Even minor issues can cause undue stress on the system and may result in a bigger problem down the road.
6) Burning or Other Unusual Odors
Similarly, strange smells are an indication that you may have electrical problems. The most common odor that you can expect is a burning smell. It is probably not a surprise that this should be investigated and resolved quickly. After all, the most common danger of wiring problems is electrical fires.
Any source of burning smell or smoke should be fixed quickly. However, if the problem is significant enough that there is clear burning on the sheathing, you should disconnect everything from the circuit and manually trip the breaker. The problem is severe enough that it could cause imminent danger.
Other odd smells should also be investigated. They could be the result of burning producing an unfamiliar smell. They could also have other causes. Regardless, it is best not to ignore anything that seems out of the ordinary.
7) Flickering or Dimming Lights
Light fixtures should only require a relatively small amount of power to run at full brightness. Therefore, if your lights are flickering or dim, it could be a sign that there is some faulty wiring.
The problem could also be that the lights are sharing an outlet with a major power consumer. Appliances that have heating or cooling elements tend to be the most electricity-hungry. Consider unplugging any appliances on the same circuit to see if that resolves the problem.
You could look into moving the lights to another circuit. Additionally, if removing the appliance from the light circuit does not fix the problem, try changing the bulbs and/or plugging in a different light fixture. If none of these changes resolve the issue, you may have a deeper problem.
Take the First Step Toward a Career as an Electrician
The above faulty electrical wiring signs will help you identify a problem with the wiring in your home or business. If you want to learn how to fix these problems yourself, consider getting an education to become an electrician. This could be your first step towards a reliable and rewarding career. Coyne College offers programs such as electrical construction and maintenance. Learn more and apply online today.