Your electrical system is the most complex component of your Twin Cities home. While you might take that system’s functionality and utility for granted, its complex nature—along with the fact that it degrades as it ages—can make the system susceptible to developing problems. And unfortunately, impending electrical hazards don’t always make themselves readily apparent.

But when you pay close attention to how your electrical system operates, you’ll recognize when something’s not functioning quite right. If you notice any of these six flags in your home, contact an electrician because there’s a good chance you need an inspection and electrical repairs.

1. Buzzing or Other Unusual Sounds

Humming, clicking, sizzling, and cracking noises should never be noticeable while operating your electrical system. These noises, along with any others you might notice, all warrant prompt attention as they almost always indicate wiring problems that only a skilled electrician can repair.

2. Sparking Outlets

It’s normal for an outlet to emit an occasional, tiny spark or two when you plug something in.

What’s not normal is an outlet that discharges these types of sparks.

Yellow, white, or red sparks

Normal sparks are typically blue.

Odorous sparks

Outlets that spark and immediately produce a burning or melting plastic odor are a serious fire hazard.

Lengthy sparks

Normal sparks come and go rapidly. Sparks that linger almost always indicate an underlying wiring problem.

When you notice any of the above types of outlet sparks—even if it’s the first time you’ve ever seen them—shut off power to the affected outlet at the circuit breaker. Sparking outlets can be a significant fire hazard since they’re typically caused by arc faults, short-circuiting, and damaged or outdated electrical equipment. To protect your home and family from a serious fire risk, call an electrician to schedule electrical repairs or outlet replacement as soon as you can.

3. Odd Odors

Some new appliances and electrical devices may emit a mild odor upon installation and the first few subsequent uses. That odor is fairly common and usually nothing to worry about as the products’ new finish generally causes it.

But if you ever detect a burning plastic odor when you plug something in or when you’ve been using a device for a while, that’s not normal and should be investigated by a licensed electrician. Burning odors typically stem from wiring problems or issues with the circuit that’s in use, both of which can be fire hazards.

Before you dial up an electrician to schedule an electrical inspection, flip the breaker that controls the offending outlet. Unplug the device or appliance, and don’t use that outlet or circuit again until you’ve had either one or both repaired.  

4. Flickering Lights

A clear but more subtle sign that your home needs electric repair is flickering lights. When an electrical system isn’t properly sending the correct wattage to certain areas of your home, lights will suddenly dim and return to normal unexpectedly.

Flickering lights present a potentially dangerous sign as too much electricity can concentrate in one area, causing a fire.

5. Breaker Trips Often

Have you ever been sitting in a room in your house and, all of a sudden, all the power goes out? You may already know the cause is a tripped breaker, and it’s normal on occasion. However, if your breaker trips happen frequently, your electrical system may have a problem.

Frequent breaker trips indicate that too many appliances run on one circuit, causing an overload. Circuit breakers only need to be replaced every 25 years or so. Over those two and a half decades, new appliances with more demanding wattage may find a place in your house, sucking up more power than the last.

So, if your circuit breaker begins to trip regularly, you should consider an upgrade.

6. Frayed Wires

Over time, the wires running throughout your house may become frayed. Nails, screws, severe weather, or rodents gnawing at the wire are the main culprits for frayed cables.

Frayed wires increase the chances of an arc fault, which can cause hazardous situations such as a house fire.

Harrison Electric: Your Minneapolis Source for 24/7 Electrical Repairs

Have you noticed something odd going on with your electrical system? Get in touch with our team at Harrison Electric right away. We provide 24/7 express electrical repair services for homeowners throughout the Twin Cities metro, and all of our electricians are fully licensed, bonded, and insured.

To schedule a service appointment, give us a call at 763-544-3300 or request a quote, and we’ll reach out with more information.