5 Shocking Electrical Danger Signs & Fashionable Faceplates

What type of accident is easily preventable, yet accounts for 28,600 fires and $1.1 billion in property losses each year?
Electrical fires! In fact, fifty-three percent of residential fires involve electrical wiring, which is intricately hidden behind the faceplates on your light switches. Aside from flying sparks, electrical danger signs can be subtle. Performing a few simple tasks like tightening a ceiling fan or testing a faceplate’s temperature can mean the difference between fire prevention and fiery disaster.
Twice a year, conduct an electrical safety audit and pay attention to the following subtle signs of danger. If these conditions persist, contact an electrician.
1. Loose Ends On Extension Cords.

If your extension cord has loose ends, or you’ve bandaged an extension cord with tape, it’s time to replace it. Damaged cords may have exposed live wires that lead to shock and fire hazards.

2. Tripping GFI Outlets.

A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFI) is an outlet typically located in kitchens and bathrooms - often within six feet of a water source – that prevents people from being electrocuted. These outlets immediately stop the flow of electricity (and “trip”) when they sense the slightest change in the current. If your GFI starts tripping repeatedly, you probably have an electrical problem or a worn-out GFI outlet receptacle. To learn more about GFIs, read: Test Your Ground Fault Interrupter.

3. Wobbly Ceiling Fans.

If your ceiling fan isn’t rotating evenly, your device either isn’t correctly mounted to the electrical box, your blades are unbalanced or your blades are warped. To learn how to fix your wobbly fan, read: How to Fix a Wobbly Overhead Fan. However, we recommend always calling an electrician to fix damaged wires and electrical boxes.

4. Inappropriate Bulb Wattage.

Using a bulb that has a higher wattage than recommended is a fire hazard and may overheat the light fixture. If you’re dealing with a fixture with multiple bulbs or a strand of lights, check all of the bulbs individually and replace them as needed. Be consistent with the bulbs’ wattage in this situation.

5. Warm Faceplates.

If your faceplate is warm to the touch, you probably have an oversized electrical load operating on that unit. Monitor any warm faceplate you find. If the problem persists, or the faceplate becomes hot to the touch, call an electrician. Note: The exception to this rule is a dimmer switch. Unless it’s too hot to touch, it’s okay.

Note: If a fire does start, stay away from the water! It may seem like a natural reaction to douse fire in H2O, but keep in mind that water conducts electricity! Throwing water on a fire could cause it to get larger and harder to fight. Instead, use a fire extinguisher to stifle the flames. Don’t have a fire extinguisher? Get one here: Purchase Fire Extinguishers.

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