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Signs Of Electrical Overload In The Home

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According to statistics from Electrical Safety First, between 2015/16, there were 28,350 fires, and 15,432 were of electrical origin. Approximately half of all electrical fires were due to misuse of an appliance or articles being too close to them. Faults caused the other half. Of those fires, there were 1380 fatalities and injuries, which averages four every day.

Electricity is a huge part of everyday life and fills our homes. For example, we use electricity daily for lighting and heating to power our fridges and ovens. However, with several electrical appliances in our homes, it’s essential to acknowledge that it takes just a single faulty plug to cause a fire.

A fully qualified and experienced electrician should only undertake electrical work on your property. However, there are things that you can do – from knowing the signs of electrical overload in the home to taking steps to reduce the chance of that happening.

Flickering/Dimming Lights

Lights only use a small amount of power, so if you notice lights are flickering or dimming, it’s likely due to too many appliances on the same circuit being used. It may be worth getting an electrician’s opinion on moving your lights to a different circuit.


Sparking originating from a breaker, outlet, or fuse box requires an electrician immediately. Stop using the outlet and avoid using it again until an electrician has confirmed it is safe. Sparking from an appliance may be caused by the appliance itself. In which case, either get the item repaired or replaced.

Extension Leads

Extension leads should only be used when necessary and only for a limited time. Prone to kinks and shorting out, extension leads can get damaged, often leading to fires that could have easily been avoided.

Trip Breakers/Blown Fuses

When a circuit breaker trips or a fuse blows, it’s doing what it’s designed to do. Circuit breakers often trip when there is an electrical overload. When circuit wires heat up during use, the circuit breaker will shut off the flow of electricity.


As the flow of electricity should be smooth, any buzzing is a cause for concern. In addition, loose prongs or outlets or frayed wires may produce noise. If so, call an electrician to examine the situation.

Hot Outlets

Outlets and switch plates should never become hot. If this occurs, unplug whatever is connected to the outlet and try it in a different one to rule out whether it’s the appliance to blame or the outlet. Outlets that become hot during use could be a result of incorrect wiring. A qualified electrician should resolve this.

Incorrect Bathroom/Kitchen Outlets

Water is a conductor of electricity, so bathrooms and kitchens must-have shock-resistant outlets, known as ground fault circuit interrupters. If you have outlets in either of these rooms, ensure that they are GFCIs and not standard outlets like what you see throughout the rest of your home.

Strange Odour

A smell from brand-new appliances is relatively typical during the first few uses. However, if a smell comes from an outlet, turn it off immediately and hire an electrician to check for any faults.

You can also enrol on our NVQ Electrical Training Course, which trains you to become an installation electrician.

All data correct at time of publication.