You might not see it, but electricity flows around you, whether you’re relaxing at home, busy at work, or on a night out with friends. The world we live in is bound together by a network of wires, computers, and electrical systems. Every time you make food, talk on your phone, or work on your computer, you rely on an invisible power to make things happen. Only when the lights go out and our devices switch off do we notice when something’s gone wrong.
Power is just as essential to everyday life as food and water, which is why our lives grind to halt when the flow of electricity stops. Electricity makes our lives more convenient, but it can also be a source of danger. The National Fire Protection Association identified electrical malfunctions as the culprit behind 1 in 10 home fires in the United States. Electrical fires have cost many people their homes, belongings, and even their lives.
Hidden electrical dangers lurk within the walls of your home. If you arm yourself with the knowledge to protect yourself from these dangers, you can prevent a disaster from happening. Here are some of the warning signs you need to look out for.
Strange or new odors
It’s not uncommon for new fixtures and appliances to have a weird smell, especially during the first few days after installation. It could be residual odors from the factory, or the paint or finish hasn’t fully acclimated to its new surroundings. In most cases, the odor is completely superficial and will go away after a week or so.
But if an electrical outlet is emitting strange or new odors, unplug everything from it and contact an electrician right away. The same goes for old electronic devices that are malfunctioning. Another thing you need to look out for is an ozone-like smell from a fuse box. Wait for a qualified expert to diagnose the problem and have it fixed right away.
If you hear a hissing, crackling, or buzzing sound from an outlet, you’re witnessing an arc fault in action. This is especially common in worn or corroded wiring. If the electrical current cannot be completely contained, it could veer off its usual path and jump to another piece of metal, creating an arc. This is one of the most common causes of electrical fires and should be addressed right away.
One way to minimize to prevent arc faults from happening is to invest in a device called an arc-fault circuit interrupter or AFCI. You might have to spend upwards of 300 to 400 dollars. The initial cost sounds a bit steep but it’s certainly cheaper than losing all of your worldly possessions in a house fire.
There are times when you simply can’t pass on a bargain. Whether it’s for light bulbs, extension cords, or even electrical spare parts, you could save hundreds of dollars if you know how where to buy quality products at a low price. But you should know the difference between a good deal and a deal that’s too good to be true.
In recent years, there have been cases of house fires caused by fake or uncertified electrical products. Make sure to only buy from reputable online sellers or brick-and-mortar stores. Check the packaging for the mandatory seals and documentation that certify the product is safe for home use. Always remember: If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably, is. The best thing to do is to walk away.
If you think you’re seeing flickering lights, it could be a sign of a more serious problem. Persistent flickering is usually caused by power surges or sudden spikes in electricity use. If these surges become a common occurrence, it means your home’s electrical system cannot handle the number of appliances and devices that are powered at one time. Your solutions are to switch off some devices or to upgrade your home wiring.
These are some warning signs you need to look out for in your home. Electrical problems don’t just damage your appliances, but they can also put your home and your life at risk if you don’t take corrective action as soon as possible. If you think there’s something wrong with your home’s electrical system, contact an electrician as quickly as possible.