circuit-breakerIf you live in an older home, your electrical wiring may need replacement sooner than you think. Electrical malfunctions are more common in older, worn-out wiring, and can cause blackouts and house fires, both serious threats to the safety of you and your family. How can you identify problems when your system is largely out of sight? Consider the following warning signs of electrical wear and tear.

1. Circuit breaker’s trippin’: If running your hair dryer longer than three minutes trips your circuit breaker, there’s a problem. Frequent circuit breaker trips indicate an overloaded system or faulty wiring. Short of an issue with your device or appliance, this symptom indicates the need to have your wiring examined. Call your trusted electrical contractor for an inspection immediately.

2. Your lights dim some: No, we are not talking about Asian cuisine. If you notice that the lights in your house are dimming, your circuit may be overloaded. Check to make sure you are not overusing your electrical outlet strip with too many plugs. Never plug another surge protector into one already in use, as this will divert too much energy to your current circuit.

3. Flickering lights: Sound creepy? Unless it is Halloween and you are part of a haunted house, your lights should not be flickering. While the cause is most likely damages to your fixture wiring, this can also occur if your electrical system is outdated and overused.

4. The buzz: It’s not your ears; its your outlets. If you hear the electrical outlets and switches in your home making a slight buzzing sound, or your cover plates and outlet faces are hot to the touch, there is a problem with your device or loose wiring in your circuit box. Both are serious issues, so call your electrician and schedule a checkup as soon as possible.

5. Burning smell: The scent of burning plastic is toxic and easily identified. If you catch a whiff like this, your wiring is damaged. Call a professional immediately to get this issue taken care of.

Keeping your electrical system in good repair is one of the most important things you can do to preserve the safety of your home. If you encounter any of the above symptoms, do not put off an inspection by a qualified electrician. The effort you take to prevent further issues could save you and your family from an inconvenient loss of power or a deadly home fire.