Exactly what situations call for licensed and professional electrical assistance? No doubt, electrical emergencies may make you grind over the thought of the sudden, unplanned expense versus the issue of safety – and getting things working again!
Are you facing one of the following situations? Do these situations call for an emergency electrician?
- Your power is out
- Smoke is coming out of an appliance or power outlet
- The curtains don’t match the lampstand
How can you tell when it’s time to bite the bullet and call for a fully licensed electrician like Sarros Electrical? Read on to learn more about common electrical emergencies.
If there’s sparks flying!
We’re talking the electrical type of sparks!
To be honest, every time you connect an appliance to live power, a spark jumps across just before physical connection is made. Sometimes you’ll see or hear this spark, but it doesn’t signal an emergency – in fact it’s quite natural and is known as arcing (plugging in faster will help mitigate this).
The sparks you need to watch for include:
- Long-lasting sparks: As opposed to a brief arcing spark, any spark that lingers and fizzles is a sure sign there’s a problem. Call an electrician if there’s any continuous sparking coming from your wires, light switches or power points.
- Sparks that aren’t blue: Yellow or white sparks means something more is involved than just arcing. Call an electrician if electrical sparks have caused burn marks, smoke or fire.
- Excessively big sparks: Big sparks are a cause for concern – especially if there continuous. It’s best to shut off the power and call an electrician immediately.
- Smelly farts… er sparks: Can you smell melted plastic, metal or a burning smell from your home’s wiring or power outlets? This means there’s an electrical fire risk that needs attention – call an electrician after cutting off the power.
Why are these of concern? Aside from the danger of electrocution, electrical flow carries excessive amounts of heat when not confined to electrical wires. This heat can easily cause dangerous fires.
If you notice any of the above, feel electrical shocks near any outlets, or notice any sparking especially during thunderstorms, you need to call an emergency electrician asap! And of course, if any fires are present, do not hesitate to call 000! If you notice sparks on public electrical infrastructure, call your local power authority.
If something doesn’t smell right
Electricity itself doesn’t smell, but when it runs amuck, the heat generated can often melt or burn other materials, such as the plastic around wiring or insulation near light globes.
If you sense heat or a burning smell whenever you turn on the lights or run appliances through a certain power outlet, turn off the power and look for any signs of melting or burning.
If the smell is coming from the appliance, it’s either a toaster or it’s toasted! If the appliance is a toaster, it should be fine assuming it’s only bread that burning, if the appliance is toasted, it’s best to get in touch with the appliance’s manufacturer for guidance on repairs or replacement.
If the smell is coming from anything electrical within the home, such as a power outlet, light fitting or wiring, then isolate the electricity (turn it off for that circuit) and call an electrician to come and inspect the cause of the fault.
Smells from electricity means something is burning – and anything burning is at risk of igniting into a fire! So isolate and get any smelly electrical fault seen to as soon as possible.
Additionally, if you notice that the power point is unreasonably warm, this is also an indicator that an emergency electrician should be paying you a visit in the near future.
Excessive heat can be a sign that your circuits are working too hard to supply you power, or that there is a wiring problem such as exposed wires. It’s a sign that something behind the wall is not working as it should be and is a definite precursor to fire, so don’t ignore hot plugs and excessively hot lighting.
If your powerboard is overheating, check out these tips to use powerboards safely!
If RCDs or circuit breakers keep tripping.
Your RCD’s or circuit breakers are the first line of electrical protection that you never really think about, but when something happens like a lightning strike, they become your best friends!
RCD’s detect disruptions in current, and when the electrical current exceeds a safe level, they react literally quicker than lightning to break the circuit – saving your appliances, light bulbs, home wiring – pretty much everything from a good toasting! RCD’s can save you thousands of dollars going up in smoke in an instant!
If you live in Perth, you’ve no doubt experienced an electrical storm run through your suburb. If lightning strikes near your home, you may have experienced your RCDs tripping. In that moment, all your electrical appliances were saved, including your TV, computer and sound system. Often, our humble NBN boxes get fried because they’re actually connected to a phone cable which is not shielded by an RCD. The inconvenience of losing your WiFi connection is a small thing compared to what would have happened if you never had an RCD!
RCDs or circuit breakers also trip if there’s too many appliances drawing power from the same circuit. This prevents overloaded wires from melting and causing a fire danger.
A one-time trip is not the end of the world – it happens occasionally! For example, if you run multiple appliances simultaneously, such as overloading a powerboard with a running microwave, heating a sandwich press and running the toaster at the same time, your circuit may trip, or cut off.
However, if you’re just watching TV, or merely have the oven on, and the circuit keeps breaking, it’s time to listen to what your breakers are trying to tell you, that there’s another chronic issue at play.
If you find you’re regularly resetting RCD’s, or there are scorch marks on the breaker it’s definitely time to call the a fully licensed electrician to check the cause! It could be a faulty RCD switch, or there could be a legitimate ‘leak’ that’s causing a short circuit and a potential fire danger.
If there’s water damage
It’s common knowledge that water and electricity make a lethal combination. Electricity flows through wires because they are “the path of least resistance,” but when a circuit gets wet, the new path becomes wherever the water has landed, causing electricity to flow everywhere, except where it should be, all with dangerous consequences.
If you notice any water damage near or around a power point, it’s vital that you call a local electrician to come and assess the area for any potential danger before you switch the electricity back on.
If you see any of the following, take caution and call for help:
- Flooding – near or rising above power points
- Moisture – in or around a power point outlet or light fittings
- Water Damage – within the vicinity of a power point or near light fittings in the roof
- Steam – coming from a power point or light bulbs
It’s very important to remember that if you’re experiencing an electrical fire, never ever under any circumstances put an electrical fire out with water. This will dramatically increase your chance of electrocution. Instead, use a fire blanket or CO2 extinguisher.
If lights keep flickering
You’d be right in thinking the occasional flicker is nothing to worry about, for example, it could be the bulb or some other passing problem.
However, continuous flicking over a noticeable period of time can indicate something a little more sinister, possible problems include:
- Worn electrical wiring
- Overloaded circuits
- Loose fittings
- Damaged switches
- Problems with the power supply itself
Additionally, the sound of buzzing coming from a power point should also be taken as a red flag. Unless you have a bee-hive behind your wall, something dangerous such as a loose wire connection or a screw or nail sitting in the wrong place could be causing arcing – a potential fire hazard.
If you experience flickering lights or buzzing sounds, it may be time to call an electrician to find the cause and get it corrected before any electrical fault gets worse or becomes a fire.
If you’re still not sure
Have an electrical problem that’s not on this list? Does your gut tell you there’s still something wrong? If so, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
If you’re a local resident in Perth, the Peel or South West WA, call WA’s family owned and fully licensed electricians – Sarros Electrical on (08) 9226 7900. We’ll chat with you on the phone and walk you through what needs to be done to ensure everything is safe! Our electricians are based in WA’s South West, Mandurah and Perth and are ready to help get you powering along again – safely!
If you live elsewhere, call your local trusted sparky to get experienced assistance with your specific issue.
Hopefully you found this post helpful and that any electrical issues you’re currently facing are quickly resolved! Always remember that electrical safety is more important than saving a few bucks. Resolving electrical issues quickly with a fully licensed and professional electrician could save your home from fire and your family from bigger problems!