Some of the most beautiful homes in the Portland and Vancouver areas also happen to be some of the oldest houses in the region. However, potentially dangerous electrical problems often plague these structures. Addressing an electrical problem in the home before it becomes serious can prevent future electrical fires or accidental electrocution. Keep in mind that many of these issues will require the expertise of a qualified electrician to ensure repairs are completed safely.

Faulty circuit breaker

Circuit breakers offer a layer of safety to the home’s electrical wiring as they shut off electricity whenever wires are overloaded to avoid a potential fire. Sometimes, breakers can trip when they become old.

While the Pacific Northwest offers some of the most gorgeous homes in the country, electrical problems often plague these older structures, especially when it comes to circuit breakers. A lot of homes may have been constructed with recalled circuit breakers. An estimated 1 in 4 of these breakers are defective and roughly 2,800 fires are caused directly by these Federal Pacific electrical panels each year.   

If your home was built between 1950 and 1990 with a Federal Pacific Electric circuit breaker panel, you’ll need to hire an electrician to replace it and avoid imminent risk of electrical fire.


Overlamping occurs when a light fixture is fitted with a bulb that has a higher wattage than what the fixture can handle. This is considered to be a code violation and can be very dangerous as the bulb’s extra heat can melt the socket or its wires and cause a fire.  

It’s critical to remember that anydamage done to the fixture as a result of overlamping will remain even when the bulb is replaced. Pay close attention to the printed wattage limits on light fixtures. If there is no limit listed on the appliance, use bulbs that are 60 watts or smaller.

Burning odor or sparks

A burning odor can be a serious problem because it may be a sign that an electrical fire is sparking and has the potential to spread. If you notice a burning smell from outlets or switches, shut the electrical panel’s power off. Call an electrician to take care of repairs. Some possible culprits are simply a faulty device or an overloaded outlet.

Sparks that occur frequently and are larger than normal may be a sign that a wire is loose or that there’s an issue with the outlet. If there’s a loose wire, it can be very challenging to locate it. Ensure you follow all safety measures when searching for the wire, or call an electrician to remedy the issue safely.

Lights flicker when it’s windy outside

Stormy weather in Portland and Vancouver areas can take a toll on the home’s electrical wiring. When it’s particularly windy or stormy outside, you may have noticed lights in the home flickering. This happens when the overhead cables from power lines that connect to the home have frayed wiring. Essentially, the wind causes a short whenever the cables are jostled around.

This can be highly dangerous as the frayed wiring may start an electrical fire. You should call the electric utility and have them replace the piece that covers the wires.

Overheating lighting fixtures

Light fixtures, especially those placed on the ceiling, can overheat if they are not well insulated. An overabundance of heat can cause fires. A simple fix is to switch the light bulbs to compact florescent lights (CFLs) or LED bulbs because they produce far less heat than incandescents.

Hire an electrician in Portland or Vancouver

Diagnosing electrical problems in your home can be tricky and dangerous. To ensure that you get the job done right the first time, call one of our experienced electricians at Prairie Electric to address any electrical issues you’re facing. We will make sure you and your family are comfortable and above all, safe, when using your home’s electricity.