How to identify bad electrical wiring in your home

Most homeowners do not pay much attention to what goes on behind their walls, but bad electrical wiring is a serious safety hazard. In fact, according to Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), there are an estimated 51,000 electrical house fires each year that cause nearly 500 deaths, over 1,400 injuries and more than $1 billion in property damage.

Every time you flip a switch, you rely on your home’s internal wiring. However, if your wiring is old, damaged or poorly installed, you could find yourself facing some serious problems. But don’t fret! If you are aware of the signs of bad electrical wiring, you can lower the risks and enjoy a safer, smooth lighting experience.

With over two decades of experience serving customers throughout the Midwest, our team at Grounded Solutions compiled a list of potential warnings that are easy to identify by simply walking through your home.

REMEMBER: Inspect. Don’t touch! If you notice any of the following signs of bad wiring in your house, do not attempt to fix anything yourself. Call a qualified electrician to come out and handle the problem.

Frequent Circuit Breaker Trips

Circuit breakers and fuses were designed to prevent overloads. When they do fail — or trip — they turn off the power throughout your home and just require a quick switch back on. However, frequent circuit break trips are a sign of a more serious, potentially dangerous problem. Electrical panels last around 25-40 years, but an older, outdated electrical box will not be able to keep up with the electrical demands of your home.


When your electricity is working properly, it flows quietly and smoothly between connections. If you start hearing a faint buzzing sound throughout your home, it could be the result of frayed wires, loose prongs or damaged electrical outlets that are causing electric currents to jump. If you hear buzzing sounds coming from any of your outlets, stop using them and call an electrician right away.

Dimming or Flickering Lights

Light fixtures rely on a small amount of power, so dimming or flickering lights are an overarching sign of a wiring problem. If you’ve noticed dimming or flickering when using multiple appliances at once, you need a professional wiring upgrade from a qualified electrician.

Odd Odors

It’s not uncommon for new fixtures, devices and appliances to emit an unusual smell the first few times they’re used, but if you’ve noticed an odd odor coming from any of your electrical outlets recently, unplug whatever is connected to it right away. Additionally, be aware of odd odors coming from your fuse box or breaker panel. Do not touch or use either until a qualified electrician comes out and assesses the problem.


Sparking is never a good sign, but the severity depends on where it’s coming from. If your outlets, breaker panel or fuse box are sparking, call in a professional immediately. However, we do want to note that your appliances or fixtures sparking is a sign of damage with that item, not the wiring. We still recommend calling in whoever services your appliances and fixtures to take a look at the issue and identify any potential fixes.

Hot or Discolored Outlets

Even devices that produce heat should never make your outlet hot. Electric currents can make some outlets warm to the touch, but if it is emitting an uncomfortable or painful amount of heat, unplug whatever is occupying that spot and try a different outlet. Then, check the outlet to see if it’s still overheating. If it is, it could be a sign of faulty wiring and you should call an electrician right away.

Frayed Wiring

This may go without saying, but one of the most common faulty wiring signs is fraying. Whether it’s caused by animals or humans, frayed wires can cause shocks and fires. If you find any frayed wiring in your home, you need to contact a licensed electrician immediately so they can inspect and replace the damaged wiring for you.

Too many extension cords

Wires are buried in walls for a reason. When you alter or disturb your electrical wiring, there is always a risk of danger. It’s fine to utilize extension cords when you do not have enough outlets, but having too many can lead to tripped breakers, damaged outlets and fires. If you’ve noticed that you don’t have enough outlets, even with multiple extension cords, you should call an electrician and have them install more outlets throughout your space. This will cost you more than an extension cord, but it will be well worth protecting the safety of your home and everyone inside.

Think you may have bad electrical wiring? White’s can help!

Unfortunately, most faulty wiring can be traced to unprofessional, poorly trained installers. Before the situation worsens, it’s important to call on a reliable, experienced electrician to fix it. The cost to install new wiring throughout your home may be pricey, but it will always be more affordable than making up for the damage from a severe house fire.

Grounded Solutions is proud to be Indiana-based and service neighborhoods across the Greater Indianapolis area. No job is too big or complicated for our highly trained and qualified team. Next time you need a licensed electrician to handle your faulty electrical wiring, give Grounded Solutions a call and we’ll tackle the job right away!

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