Understanding the Common Causes of Faulty Wiring Systems in Residential Properties

If your lights are buzzing, dimming or flickering, this is a sign that your wiring needs to be replaced. Outdated light fixtures or do-it-yourself repairs may also cause it.

Electrical problems in your home can be very dangerous and can lead to severe shock, a fire or a potential death. 


Overheating is one of the most common signs of something wrong with your home’s wiring system. Whether it’s an outlet that gets hot to the touch even when nothing is plugged in or your circuit breaker continually trips, overheating is a sure sign that you have a problem. When large overcurrents pass through a conductor too small for the circuit’s protection to open, it can heat to a point where it begins to melt. When this happens, a brief parting arc can occur, and that arc will expose nearby combustible materials to the electric current. If you find an overheating outlet or switch plate, turn off the electricity for that circuit immediately and consult an electrician to check out your whole electrical system. If your house has aluminum wiring (which is more prone to melting) rather than copper, an expert can also help you convert to safer wires and prevent the risk of fires in the future.

Short Circuits

Normally, electricity flows through your circuit wiring and back to your fuse box. But if a short circuit happens, this current bypasses these wires and takes the fastest route to the ground, often through flammable materials such as wood or plastic. This can cause a fire and serious injury. A standard short circuit occurs when a live wire comes in contact with a neutral wire. This causes resistance to drop instantly, forcing a large amount of current through an unexpected pathway and creating a dangerous situation. This is one of the leading causes of electrical fires in homes and businesses, resulting in severe shock, burns and property damage.

Signs of a faulty wiring system include frequently tripped breakers, lights and appliances that don’t turn on or flicker, a burning smell and melted outlets or switches. Call an electrician immediately to investigate and fix the problem if you notice any of these. This can help protect your family from injury, fires, property damage, and loss of valuable items. This is especially important in older homes where a lack of proper maintenance can lead to various electrical problems, including faulty wiring.

Poor Connections

Wires not properly connected to switches, receptacles, and outlets can create fire hazards. This is often a problem in older homes where do-it-yourself repairs or “upgrades” have been done without regard to best practices and codes. These loose connections can cause overheating and arcing, leading to electrical fires. These fires are typically very difficult and can engulf entire homes.

Messy wiring is not just unsightly but also a fire and trip hazard. If wires are tangled in the walls, ceilings, or carpets, it is time for a professional to look at it. Rodents are also attracted to electrical wiring, especially aluminum, and can chew it for taste and texture. Another common wiring issue is overlapping, which occurs when a light bulb’s wattage exceeds the fixture’s maximum wattage rating. It is best to always consult an electrician for a complete inspection of your home’s electrical system. They can help ensure your wiring is safe, code compliant and up-to-date. And a professional electrician can fix any problems found before they turn into dangerous house fires.

Loose Wires

Often, it could be clearer that there’s a problem with electrical wiring. Even minor issues can cause dangerous conditions, resulting in a fire, electrocution, or injury. Here are some signs that indicate your wiring system needs an update or repair: Flickering lights: Any flickering or dimming can mean various things, including overloading or bad wiring. Flickering may also be caused by a light bulb with a higher wattage than the fixture can handle. Buzzing sounds: If you hear buzzing, it’s time to call a professional. The sound is created when electricity jumps between a loose wire or contacts, and it’s one of the most common causes of house fires.

Messy wiring: If you find a fishnet of wires or cords running across your floor or under your furniture, it’s time to call a licensed electrician. A messy wiring job can indicate that it was rushed or done by someone who needed to take the proper safety precautions. Check the screw terminals inside your wall switches, lights, and outlets for loose connections.

Damaged Outlets

A faulty outlet that burns or melts can pose serious fire hazards and should be replaced immediately. This also applies to outlets missing prongs or dark blemishes on their faceplate or surrounding wall. These signs of burning and melting indicate that the outlet is short-circuiting and could cause an electric arc when inserting a plug.

Homes built before the mid-1960s may have only two-prong outlets, which need to be grounded and can create fire hazards. This type of wiring also carries more risk of aluminum wires failing due to corrosion, which is very dangerous. Landlords are responsible for ensuring their electrical systems are up to code and functioning properly and arranging necessary repairs. If an outlet isn’t working properly, the landlord should provide a professional electrician to look at it to see the issue. Tenants are also responsible for avoiding tampering with outlets, which can lead to a dangerous electrical fire. The simplest way to do this is by not overloading outlets, using extension cords or power strips, and not inserting foreign objects into them.