Modern home electrical wiring is safe and efficient -- when installed correctly and used correctly. If you are looking at buying or are currently living in a home where the wiring might not be the best, you do need to have electrical inspections done at certain points. Home wiring usually is built to last. But there are extenuating circumstances that call for intervention. Because bad wiring can lead to fires, this is not something you want to ignore.
You know you have to get a home inspection before buying a house. But these inspections cover everything, and even good inspectors can miss smaller problems if there is a lot to inspect in and around the house. Have an electrician come in and check out just the wiring in the home, especially if it's an older home. There are some older structures out there that still use old fuse boxes (as opposed to current circuit breakers) and that haven't had their wiring updated ever. Even homes built a couple of decades ago can already be seeing problems like a lack of adequate amperage supplied to the home. Find out these things before buying.
After Water Damage
Whenever there is water damage that affects walls (or ceilings and floors that have wiring in them, as is the case in many older buildings), the electrical wiring can be at risk of shorting out or failing and thus not providing power. Mildew can quickly take over the wiring, and the insulation can degrade, leading to a higher risk of fires. If your home has been through a flood, or if there was a pipe leak that let water run near wiring, outlets, and more, have the electrical system inspected before using circuits in that part of the home.
Right After Sparking
Have you ever plugged something in just to have it spark, smoke, or even emit flames? Most of the time, those are signs something is wrong, and you need an electrician to inspect the outlet and related wiring. Sometimes when you plug in an appliance, or when you plug something in and there's a buildup of static electricity, you get a tiny spark. That's not really a problem. However, many sparks, smoke, or flames -- even ones that die out almost immediately -- are a sign that maybe the insulation on the wiring is bad, or there was previous water damage that you didn't know about. Stop using that outlet, shut off the circuit breaker leading to that outlet, and call an electrician. If you see more signs of fire, though (as in: there is still fire going on behind the wall), call the fire department first.
Electrical inspections don't have to take long, and many times the problems they find are isolated. Don't fear having to call for an electrical inspection -- they are one of the best inspections you can give your home.
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