Electrical fires can be caused for a variety of reasons, from improper wiring installation to simple age and wear to even damage caused by pest infestations to your electrical system. Whatever the reason, electrical fires can cause a great deal of damage to your home, which can be expensive and complicated to fix after the fact.
Understanding what some of the warning signs associated with electrical fires are can help you determine if your home is at risk, allowing you to contact a residential electrical contractor before an actual fire is able to start.
1. Shocks and Sparks
One of the earliest and very hard to miss signs associated with an increased risk of experiencing an electrical fire is if you get shocked or notice sparks when you are plugging things into an outlet. This points to damaged wiring, usually because of insulation that has worn away, or improper installation, both of which prevent the outlet from being properly grounded and can cause irregular electricity flows that increase the risk of a fire -- not to mention accidentally electrocuting yourself. Sparks can also be caused by overloading a single outlet with multiple power strips and extensions, in which case you should unplug as many things as possible to reduce the load.
2. Chronically Tripping Breakers
Another clear indication that your home desperately needs to be inspected by a professional electrician is if you notice that your circuit breakers chronically trip, even when you only have a few appliances running and lights turned on. This can point to damage or some underlying issue with your electrical system that is causing your breaker to preemptively trip to prevent a short circuit and further damage occurring. In this case, you will likely have to replace some of the wiring in your home, as damaged or old wiring can greatly increase the risk of a fire occurring as well.
3. Burning Smells and Charred Outlets
Finally, the last and most obvious warning sign that your home is at high risk of experiencing an electrical fire is if you notice that there is a smell of burnt plastic or wood in your home, or if there are dark stains, discoloration, or burn marks around your outlets. All of these symptoms point to small electrical fires already breaking out in your home, but burning themselves out before they have the opportunity to grow larger. If this is the case, you need to get in touch with an electrician right away and refrain from using the affected outlets entirely to keep your home safe.