Signs of Electrical Hazards in Your Home

A safe electrical system can prevent severe burns, shock, and even death. It can also prevent a fire. Watching for, and responding to, warning signals from your electrical system when it indicates it’s not happy can solve problems before they become serious or life-threatening. There are a surprising number of ways you can detect an electrical problem. Here are some of the things you should be on the alert for:

Flickering or blinking lights

Lights might flicker when another appliance is turned on, or lights which flicker randomly. Regardless of the reason or pattern, flickering lights are never innocuous and should be investigated.

A fixture doesn’t work

If a ceiling fan or other electrical fixture stops working, it could just be the fixture--or it could be the wiring. An electrician can come out and test it to know for sure.

Exposed wires

Exposed or chewed wires are a huge danger to humans and pets. If rodents caused them, that would have to be dealt with, as well, or they could cause more damage. Pets should be discouraged from chewing on cords by covering them.


Think of sparks as a miniature fire! The breaker to a sparking outlet should be turned off, and an electrician called immediately.

Tripping circuit breaker


Sometimes, a homeowner will plug too many high-use appliances, which will trip the breaker. However, if this isn’t the case, but the circuit breaker trips repeatedly, there is a problem with the switch, the wiring, or something else. Time to call in a pro.

Shock or ‘hum’

Static electricity shocks are frequent, especially around carpeting. But, if you get a shock and it isn’t static electricity, or even if you feel a hum or tingling along your finger, hand or arm, that is a shock.

A plastic smell or burning odor

If you smell anything near a wall, outlet or wall switch which smells like something burning or melted plastic, something is seriously amiss, and it needs to be checked out. Today.

A warm switch, wall, or outlet plate

Home electricity runs cool. If you feel any heat coming from a switch or outlet plate, or even the wall, it could mean a severe wiring problem. Turn off all appliances to the breaker and shut it off. Then call an electrician.

Outdated or blackened electrical plugs

These include non-GFCI outlets in kitchens or bathrooms within six feet of a water source. Garage and outdoor plugs should also be GFCI to prevent shock. Two-prong outlets (no ground) should also be replaced, as they are outdated.

If you have a switchplate or even part of the wall which looks like it’s turned black from melting or a short, it’s a warning sign that something shorted or sparked, even if you didn’t see it happen. Call an electrician pronto.

If you see signs of an electrical problem, or even if you think there might be a problem, we hope you’ll trust your instincts enough to call an electrician. It’s better to call and find out there isn’t a serious problem than discover by an unpleasant means that your suspicions were correct. 

We always welcome call from homeowners and will work with you to resolve any wiring issues you may have. 

Zimmerman Electric is here to serve your residential and commercial electrical needs throughout the Phoenix Valley metro area. Call us today if you need electrical work performed 602-497-3365.