One of the major warning signs of an impending electrical fire is a strange odor that smells like something is burning. However, there are many causes of such odors around the home, and it is up to you to find the source of the odor before you decide that it's nothing to worry about. If you can't find the source of the odor, it's always a good idea to call your local fire department for a walk through, especially if the odor is only one of several alarming symptoms, such as blown electrical fuses, flickering lights and hot spots in the home. Following are some tips for locating the source.
Check Recently Used Appliances
Overheated appliances may emit strange odors, so it's always a good idea to check any appliances that you've recently used, including your HVAC system, stove, hair dryer, washing machine and so forth. Smell around each appliance to see if the odor gets stronger the closer you get. You should also touch each appliance to see if it feels hot to the touch while looking for signs of possible electrical issues, such as charred or melted plastic.
Inspect Fixtures For Signs of Trouble
Check all of your light fixtures and electrical outlets for signs of trouble, such as dim or blown bulbs, anything melted or charred, and wafting smoke. Fluorescent light fixtures are particularly susceptible to overheating and may spark a fire. If a light or fixture feels hot to the touch or if it appears as if it's almost caught on fire, unplug it and stop using it immediately.
If you notice your electrical outlets have dark stains or smoke damage on them, there may be an issue with the electrical wiring within your walls. If you notice any signs of sparking or fire around electrical outlets, call a licensed electrician.
Check Breaker Box for Tripped Breakers
Check your breaker box to see if it feels hot to the touch. Also, check it for tripped breakers or blown fuses, both of which may indicate an issue with your electrical wiring. If you have recurrent issues with tripped breakers, flickering lights, a hot breaker box and charred or frayed wires, call an electrician. Resetting the breaker box in these situations may cause a fire.
There are many causes of burnt odors around the home, ranging from melting plastic in the dishwasher to overheated wiring within the walls. While the first is harmless, the second isn't. Therefore, you must investigate each strange odor around your home to keep your family and home safe.