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Common Signs of Electrical Problems: When to Call an Electrician

Are your household lights flickering? Outlets hot to the touch? Hearing a buzzing sound? These are all common signs of electrical problems. Here are some common problems that pop up that call for the hand of an experienced electrician.

Lights Are Wonky

Only a small amount of power is normally needed to power light fixtures. If they are dimming or flickering, major appliances that suck up energy are usually to blame. The lights can go wonky if refrigerators, washing machines, or space heaters are wired to the same circuit. Have an electrician move light fixtures to different circuits or install dedicated lines for large appliances.

Something Smells Off

If you detect an odd smell coming from an outlet, unplug anything that’s connected to it. Have an electrician check it out. Same goes if your fuse box or breaker panel has an off odor. A new appliance may smell strange the first few times it’s used. This is normal.

Sparks Are Showing

If an appliance is sparking, it may be damaged. Call a repair person right away. A service call from them usually costs less than a visit from an electrician. Plus, a new appliance may still be under warranty. If a breaker panel, fuse box, or outlet is sparking, call a licensed electrician immediately.

Hot Outlets

An electric current can make a switch plate slightly warm. However, if the outlet becomes hot, unplug what’s in it. If it stays hot, the outlet may be wired incorrectly. Consult an electrician.

Buzzing Sound

Electricity is silent when it’s working properly. However, loose prongs, outlets, or fraying wire can cause the current to jump and create a buzzing sound. If this happens, stop using the outlet and call an electrician.

Overuse of Extension Cords

Extension cords that are out in the open can suffer damage, resulting in tripped breakers, damaged outlets, and possibly a fire. Use extension cords sparingly and only temporarily, such as at holiday time. If you need more outlets, a licensed electrician can put them in.

Frequently Blown Fuses

If an appliance you use routinely trips a breaker no matter where you plug it in, the device is probably to blame. However, if fuses are frequently blown when you use the same outlet, the circuit is likely overloaded. Circuit breakers and fuses are meant to fail when a problem is detected.

Chewed Wires

Rats and mice can wreak havoc on wiring. If you see rodent droppings and nest materials nearby, look for chew marks on the wires. Chewing can cause wires to become bare. Exposed wires can give you quite a shock. Take care of the issue as soon as possible.

Aluminum Wiring

High copper prices led home builders to use single-strand aluminum wiring in the 1970’s. However, it turned out to be a fire hazard and is no longer used. If your home still has aluminum wiring, call an electrician to discuss options for repairs or rewiring.

GFCI Outlets Are Missing

Water conducts electricity and kitchens and bathrooms need GFCI outlets. These special shock-resistant outlets are called ground fault circuit interrupters. They typically have two small buttons at the center. If these spaces in your home don’t have them, get them installed.

Let Us Tackle Your Electrical Needs  

The folks at CKElectric can handle all your electrical projects, big or small! Need a service call? Our electricians can help you figure out why your outlets have stopped working or your panel keeps tripping. We serve Sykesville, Eldersburg, Frederick, and all of Central Maryland. Call us at 443-920-3078 or email us at We are happy to serve you!