Have you noticed unusual electrical problems around your house? Perhaps minor annoyances you continually push toward the back of your mind? Though day-to-day obligations can easily cause you to inadvertently minimize seemingly minor issues, continually neglecting electrical problems (even minor ones) puts you and your family at risk.

At Harrison Electric, it’s our goal to help you maximize the safety and functionality of your electrical system, and to do that, we start by performing an electrical inspection. To help you better monitor your system and maintain your safety, we’ve outlined three highly common electrical problems at home that require prompt inspection.

Frequent Circuit Breaker Tripping

Household circuit breakers are designed to trip when the electrical draw on a given circuit exceeds a certain level. This safety mechanism protects your appliances from electrical overload and also provides a critical safety measure against household fires. While infrequent breaker tripping is normal, if the issue consistently arises when you use a particular appliance or receptacle, you may have an electrical hazard on your hands.

In many cases, the problem is due to a faulty appliance or an overload on a particular circuit, both of which should be inspected. If the issue stems from old wiring in your house, an old electrical panel, or faulty wiring installation, prompt inspection is critical. A residential electrician can perform a comprehensive system inspection and recommend the appropriate upgrades to improve performance and household safety.

Hot Light Switches or Receptacles

Do your outlets or light switches feel hot to the touch? While a certain degree of warmth may be normal for a given outlet or switch, any increase in temperature is cause for concern. Monitor any warm outlets for sudden or gradual increases in heat, and keep in mind: Even high-powered appliances should not generate excess heat at the outlet.

Outlets that generate heat even when they’re not in use are also cause for concern as they typically indicate faulty wiring or loose connections. Avoid using questionable outlets until a qualified residential electrician can inspect your electrical system for potential issues.

Buzzing Sounds or Strange Noises

Buzzing sounds within your walls are not normal! A properly installed and maintained electrical system should not emit any sound, and any strange noises typically indicate faulty wiring, defective appliances, or loose electrical connections. If you consistently notice humming, buzzing, or other odd noises emanating from within your walls, schedule an electrical inspection immediately.

Flickering Lights

If you're experiencing flickering or dimming lights when you are using them like normal, this is typically caused by other appliances being on the same circuit. If the other devices are not energy efficient, they can take a lot of power from the primary source. This is problematic because it requires more power than the circuit can provide, resulting in electricity deficits in the power supply.

In most cases, a professional electrician may be able to move the lights circuit and ensure you have the right power supply for the appliance.

Odd Smells

Another indicator is if you encounter a burning smell from the fuse box or outlets. This is a significant concern because it can result in fire. If this situation occurs, you need to stop using the power and call an electrician immediately.


If you see sparks when you are using electricity in your home, this is a potential hazard. It could also indicate the appliance is having technical issues and may need repair as an alternative. In either case, no level of sparking is safe or normal, and the fuse box for the outlet needs to be checked by a professional.

Needing Excess Electrical Cords

Extension cords are created for more ease, but if you use a large amount of them due to insufficient outlets, it may be time to consider calling an electrician. And while the cords can be a useful option as a temporary solution, it is not always the safest choice, and it is recommended to invest in more outlets.

Your Energy Bill has Gone Up

Being energy efficient helps reduce the use of items and lower your bills, but if you notice a jump in your energy use each month, this could be from electrical system issues. Between overloaded circuits, poor connectors, or frayed wires, these can all contribute to an inefficient system and create higher monthly bills in your home.

Missing GFCI Outlets

Do you know if your home contains the appropriate receptacles in the appropriate locations? While GFCI outlets were mandated decades ago in new residential construction, older homes may still contain outdated receptacles that put your safety at risk.

Ground fault circuit interrupter receptacles (GFCIs) are designed to constantly monitor your electrical circuits in designated locations. When a receptacle detects even a slight flow of current toward a grounded object, it immediately shuts down the flow of electricity to the affected outlet. This monitoring mechanism protects users from accidental electrocution, which is especially critical near indoor and outdoor sources of water.

To comply with modern electrical code, your home should feature GFCI protection in all of the following locations:

  • Bathrooms, near water sources
  • Rooftop
  • Unfinished basement
  • Outdoors
  • Kitchens, near water sources

If you’re unsure whether you have the appropriate GFCI outlets, contact a residential electrician for an inspection at your earliest convenience. Lacking the appropriate protection significantly increases your risk for electrical shock and serious bodily injury.

Dealing With Common Electrical Problems at Home? Contact Harrison Electric Today

At Harrison Electric, it’s our goal to help you keep your home and family safe, so if you’re dealing with unusual electrical issues, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. Since 1985, we’ve been proudly serving Twin Cities homeowners with comprehensive, 24/7 residential electrical service, and we’re here for your family, too. 

To learn more about our electrical services or to request your service quote, give us a call at 763-544-3300. You can also contact us via our contact form, and a member of our team will be in touch with you promptly!