How to Tackle the 5 Most Common Electrical Hazards at Home

a yellow light bulb lit in a street

Reading time: 4 minutes

When staying at home during a pandemic, you might be having more issues with your electricity. This can be a major problem in terms of home safety as well as an interrupted workday. (You can’t be on a video conference call without electricity or Wi-Fi.) That’s why our team pulled the following advice from our member-exclusive vipTIPs to help you tackle the most common electrical hazards at home.

Take heed! When dealing with electricity, we suggest you err on the side of caution. Unplug a device and don’t use it again until a professional electrician is able to service it. Be mindful of warning signs, such as buzzing noises, burning smells, and hot equipment. These can signal a fire or the beginnings of one. If you suspect a fire, get out, stay out, and call 9-1-1.

#1 – Tripping your circuit breakers

a homeowner turning back on a tripped breaker in a breaker box
Locate your breaker box.

Almost every home has a breaker box, usually in the basement, garage, or utility closet. Inside, you’ll find what appears to be switches or circuit breakers. When you use a certain level of electricity, the circuit breaker cuts the current to the problem area (hence “tripping a circuit breaker”), which prevents an overload and an electrical fire.

How to fix a tripped breaker – When a circuit breaker trips, head to your breaker box and look for the breakers that are in the middle of their switch (not pointed toward the center or away from the center). Flip the breakers that have been tripped “off” or away from the center before switching them toward the center of the panel. This should reset the breaker and turn the power back on.

an off lamp inside a dining room
A tripped breaker can turn off power to part of your home.

If you notice a breaker looks damaged or appears to be burned – you might have an overloaded circuit. If that happens, turn off the main breaker (it’s usually the biggest breaker at the top of the panel but it could be on the bottom or along the side). Then, call an electrician to investigate.

What does it mean when a circuit breaker keeps tripping? It probably means you’re using a lot of electricity – such a wall unit air-conditioner, a blow dryer, and microwave, all at the same time. Try using a lower setting on these items or alternating uses. Sometimes moisture from a shower, cooking, or even faulty wiring in an appliance can trip breakers.

#2 – Flickering lights

a bulb outside in a yard in the evening
Beware of flickering lights.

Flickering lights is one most common electrical hazards at home. It could signal a paranormal guest in your home, and he/she is trying to communicate with you – or you might have a real fire hazard. First, check to see that the bulb you are using is the correct wattage, and try using one with a lower wattage. If that doesn’t work, you might have frayed or loose wiring. Turn off the light, and if possible, shut off that circuit breaker until a professional can come out to your home.

#3 – Electrical shocks

 a plug about ready to be inserted into an outlet
Is the shock coming from the outlet or the appliance?

When you touch an appliance – your smart refrigerator, a toaster oven, a crock pot – and you feel a shock, that could be the appliance or faulty wiring. Check the appliance for frayed or damaged wiring, and keep it unplugged until a professional can service it. Also, observe the original outlet. If it’s sparked before, the outlet probably has faulty wiring and needs to be repaired or replaced.

#4 – Wall switch or ceiling fixture is hot – too hot

a bright white LED bulb in a darkened room
Try using cooler bulbs, such as LEDs.

If you put your hand over a switch and it’s warm, see if it’s for a dimmer switch. Those can be warm as long as they aren’t “too” hot and are running less than 600 watts of bulbs. If it’s not a dimmer switch, shut the switch off immediately and – you guessed it! – don’t use it again until a professional looks at it.

As for a warmer than average bulb – one of the most common electrical hazards at home – try a lower wattage bulb or switch to LED or CFL bulbs, which produce less heat (and last longer!). If neither of these options work, turn off the light and call a professional.

#5 – A surging home electrical bill

a gentleman pays his credit card bill on his laptop
More time at home means higher utility bills.

Where your home used to be empty most of the day, save your dog and appliances – you might now have multiple computers running as you either work from home and/or your children take digital classes. Of course, your home energy bill is going to see an increase, but perhaps you can cut it down to size.

Try these quick tricks to lower your electric bill:

  • Switch to LED bulbs.
  • Locate and eliminate electrical “vampires,” such as phone chargers, TVs, and other appliances that are plugged in when not in use.
  • Maintain heating and cooling systems and keep the air filters clean. (The vipHomeLink app can help with this!)
  • Turn down your hot water heater (if you know how).
  • Use your programmable thermostat and turn down the heat at specific times of the day.
  • Wash clothes in cold water and only run full loads of laundry. (Definitely use hot water to wash your clothes if you went food shopping. This helps to kill COVID-19.)

Stay on top of home maintenance

two cell phones in front of an affluent blue home with the vipHomeLink dashboard up on the screens
vipHomeLink can help!

We know how difficult it is to know what to do and when to do it around the home. That’s why we help to simplify homeownership through our home management app, which provides homeowners with personalized reminders for home tasks. From bat proofing your home to vacuuming your dryer vent, we’ve got you covered.

Save money and time, and gain peace of mind with vipHomeLink! Download the app today from Google Play or the App Store.

Advertiser Disclosure:

Any offers that appear on the vipHomeLink site, in our content, vipTIPs or other recommendations are for the convenience and benefit of our users. vipHomeLink may receive compensation from any purchases that are made by our users. This compensation is paid by the seller and will not impact the prices that are offered. This compensation arrangement may impact which offers appear and which sellers are featured on our site. If you elect to use or purchase services from third parties, you are subject to the third parties’ review of your information and to their terms and conditions and privacy policy. vipHomeLink does not endorse, warrant or guarantee the products or services available through the vipHomeLink offers (or any other third-party products or services advertised on or linked from our site), whether or not sponsored.

Latest vipPosts


Valuable Homeowner Content
Delivered to Your Mailbox