You’ve lived in your home for a while, and it has developed its own unique character. To some extent, you love that character because you’ve built so many memories in that house. Everything that matters most to you resides within its four walls. But when your home threatens your safety or comfort, that character doesn’t seem quite so charming.
For example, your roof may develop leaks in the same places, or your shower may fill with gunk after you flush your toilet. You may also have doors that don’t hang straight. Or you may even have lights that flicker when someone stomps too hard across an upper floor.
All of these characteristics signal that your home’s functionality has suffered over the years. And once your home loses essential functions, it becomes dangerous to live in.
We’ll address one of those essentials in this post: your electrical system.
Why a Malfunctioning Electrical System Is a Problem
Old or faulty wiring represents a huge problem for a few reasons:
- It creates a fire hazard. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, bad wiring causes most house fires. The wiring either becomes exposed or it simply sparks or heats so much that nearby materials ignite.
- It creates an electrocution risk. When wiring wears out, it transfers electrical currents improperly. The insulation may also develop holes in it. In either case, your electrical system poses an electrocution risk. Touch sockets and light switches with care.
- It shortens the lifespan of your appliances. Again, faulty and old wiring doesn’t manage a power current as safely or efficiently as it once did, so it could short your appliances. Additionally, the wiring may not have the capacity to support modern appliances. As a result, your microwaves and dishwashers will wear out sooner.
- It ruins your home’s energy efficiency. Wiring also tends to transfer power less reliably as it ages, and new electrical components use energy much more efficiently than their older counterparts.
If you want to keep your home, family and appliances safe and worry free, you’ll benefit from a complete inspection.
In the next section, we’ll outline several signs that show your electrical system has reached the end of its lifespan.
How You Can Tell Your Electrical System Needs Repair or Service
Watch for the warnings below. They’ll tell you when you need an entire system replacement instead of a repair.
- Flickering or Dimming Lights
Your lights shouldn’t flicker unless you face a power outage, or unless you buy Halloween light bulbs that flicker on purpose. So if your lights flicker, especially when you haven’t turned anything else on, you know that the wiring has started to deteriorate.
- Frequently Blown or Tripped Fuses
You have probably tripped a fuse/breaker before when you’ve plugged too many appliances into nearby outlets. However, your fuses/breakers shouldn’t trip very often. In fact, you should go months-even years-without worrying about your fuses/breakers. So if you reset them on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, your electrical system needs repair.
- Burning Smell from Outlets or Appliances
As mentioned above, bad wiring quickly turns into a fire hazard. If you smell something charred or burning when you plug in appliances or turn on the lights, take that sign as a serious warning. Your electrical system may soon ignite the materials around it.
- Outlets and Light Switches that Feel Hot to the Touch
Nothing in your home should feel hot unless you heat it on purpose. Outlets and light switches especially should never feel hot at all. If they exhibit a dangerously high temperature, turn off your power and contact your electrician immediately.
- Tingling Sensation from Outlets and Light Switches
Most people feel static shock when they walk across the carpet and touch a light switch. But you should not feel a shock or an electric current if you keep your hand on the switch.
When you feel this sensation, something has gone seriously wrong with your electrical system, and you should have a professional electrician assess it as soon as possible.
- Discolored Outlets and Light Switches
Discoloration comes from smoke and heat. Don’t ignore this sign if you see it. You need to act quickly to prevent further damage.
- Aged Appliances and Electrical Wiring
Residential electrical systems can last for years. But if yours hasn’t had an update in 10 years, have an electrician inspect it. It may have developed problems like frayed wires and deteriorated insulation, and you want to catch these problems before they turn into fires and other disasters.
Just like every other feature in your house, your wiring will wear out eventually. But don’t chalk up flickering lights as one of your home’s personality traits. Take the warning seriously and schedule an inspection with your electrician so you can have a safe system once again.