Common electrical faults at home

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Common Electrical Faults At Home

Electrical faults can be a nuisance and can disrupt your daily life, considering how dependent we are on electricity to power our homes.

At times, these faults can even turn serious and become downright dangerous. When that happens, they can harm you and your family and damage your property.

To prevent electrical faults from affecting you and your home, we recommend taking some time to identify the risks and hazards and taking the required measures to minimise them as much as possible.

While there are several types of electrical faults, there are a few common ones that you must be aware of so that as soon as you notice them, you can take action to rectify the issue.

Read on to find out more about the most common electrical faults at home and what you can do to prevent them:


Some electrical faults are harmless while others are more serious and mustn’t be ignored for too long. A small electrical problem may even lead to something bigger and more dangerous; electrical fires being a common example.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common electrical faults at home, along with their causes and solutions. You may be able to fix some of these problems yourself, but it is always best to get help from a professional certified electrician:

Repeated circuit breaker tripping

Circuit breakers are there to protect your home and its electrical appliances from power surges. They break the flow of electricity by cutting the power supply and tripping when it exceeds the safe limit.

The circuit breaker tripping every once in a while, especially when there are no other obvious issues, is considered normal. All you have to do is flick back the breaker’s switch and the power will be restored almost instantly.

The issue arises when it trips repeatedly, which is an indicator of an underlying issue. One possible reason for this is that you may be using too many high-power appliances at once, which may exceed the circuit’s amp rating.

To solve this issue, you can try unplugging all the high-power appliances. If the circuit stops repeatedly tripping after that, it is most definitely caused by overloading and you will have to get a new consumer unit that has the required capacity for your electrical use.

If unplugging all the appliances makes no difference to the circuits tripping, it is best to get the wiring in your home checked by an electrician.

Frequent power surges

Power surges can be caused by several things such as lightning strikes, damaged power lines, faulty appliances, and faulty wiring in your house.

While these power surges last less than a second, frequent ones can damage your electrical appliances and components and significantly reduce their life.

If you experience frequent power surges in your home, the culprit is probably an appliance or the wiring itself. To be sure, it is best to consult with a professional and get the issue fixed quickly.

Buzzing noise and discolouration of switches and sockets

A buzzing noise may seem harmless, but when it comes from an electrical component such as a switch or socket, it can actually be a sign of defective wiring and cause harm to anyone who comes in contact with it.

The socket or switch becoming hot is also a common issue that must never be taken lightly. The same can be said for sockets and switches getting discoloured.

If you touch a socket or switch and retract your hand because it is too hot, action must be taken immediately to rectify it as the heat may be caused by defective wiring.

Shocks and electrocution

Electrical shocks are one of the most common signs of electrical issues in a house. Not only can they be extremely unpleasant but also a sign of a serious underlying issue that needs to be fixed.

The issue could be with the particular switch, socket, or even the electrical appliance attached to it. To determine the issue, you can remove the plugged-in appliance, if there is any, and check with another appliance.

If the issue gets resolved, the appliance is the culprit. If not, the switch and socket may have to be examined. It is recommended to get the wiring checked as well to rule out any other issues.

Burning smell

A burning smell emitting from an electronic switch, socket, or appliance is never a good sign. If you notice it, you must immediately turn off the power supply and get the issue checked by a professional.

It is plausible that the smell is from the plastic insulation of the wiring, but it can often be a precursor to an electrical fire. Most electricians consider a burning smell as a warning sign as most electrical fires are usually undetectable and odourless.

Regardless, if you smell anything unusual near your electrical installations, call a professional electrician straight away!


Sparking is a serious issue that must never be taken lightly. If you notice sparks flying from your fuse box or consumer unit, it is a sign of an electrical fault that needs to be inspected by an electrician. If it is an appliance that is sparking, do not use it unless you have it examined and repaired.

Dimming or flickering lights

Random dimming and flickering of the lights in your home are one of the most common electrical issues.

A single light dimming or flickering is not a big issue as it usually means there is a problem with a particular light bulb. But if it happens with more than one light, the issue mostly lies in faulty wiring or an overloaded circuit.

Damaged or exposed wiring

Wires, cables, switches, and sockets, like all other electrical installations, have a limited lifespan and start showing signs of deterioration as they age.

This could lead to any of the above-mentioned problems and cause serious faults in your home electrics. Damaged or exposed wiring is extremely unsafe and can lead to fires and electric shocks.

If you live in an old house and notice any electrical faults, it is a good idea to have the electrics checked and the entire property rewired with new installations.


If you notice any of these electrical faults in your home, the first step is to call a certified electrician and have your home electrics fixed, tested, and inspected.

To make sure your home electrics are in good shape and such faults are prevented in the future, maintenance is key. You are also required by the law to conduct regular inspections of your home electrics and get them rewired if need be.


As recommended in the British Standard wiring regulations, electrical installations need maintenance and servicing on a regular basis to make sure they keep working as they should.

This can be done by undertaking visual inspections to full electrical testing carried out by a certified electrician.

The main purpose of electrical testing is to ensure that your home’s electrical wiring is safe, functioning to its full capacity, and that all the appliances in your home can continue to run without any issues.

According to the wiring regulations BS 7671, every domestic property’s electrical installations must be regularly inspected and tested every 5 to 10 years to rule out any defective electrical work and safety hazards.

If you are a landlord renting out your home to someone, it is your responsibility to get the electrics tested every 5 years, or whenever there is a change in occupancy, to make sure they are safe to use by your tenants.

The inspection and testing process carried out by a certified electrician usually starts with a visual inspection to identify any ‘visible’ signs of electrical damage and defect and to reveal any areas that need attention.

These visual signs may include any of the above-mentioned warning signs, in addition to any missed out by the homeowners.

During the visual inspection, the competent individual takes down notes and makes a corresponding Visual Inspection Report (VIR) to provide an overall general summary of the health of the electrical system.

The Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) is a comprehensive test that thoroughly checks all the fixed wiring of your home and establishes whether it is safe to use and compliant with the current regulations.

It includes checking the electrical system, such as the wiring, consumer unit, earthing and bonding, and all the other areas that could pose a potential safety risk.

During an EICR check, a trained electrician visits your home, makes a visual assessment of the house electrics, and then proceeds to carry out a series of tests on the electrical system.


When it comes to electrical safety, the electrical appliances attached to the sockets are just as important as the sockets, switching, and wiring.

To make sure they are working properly and to rule out any issues with them, they undergo what is called a Portable Appliance Test (PAT).

It involves a certified electrical contractor visiting your property to perform a visual assessment of the appliances and then carrying out a proper test to check their condition.

PAT testing involves the testing of all electrical appliances that are not fixed, or in other words, are portable. They include microwaves, toasters, coffee machines, kettles, televisions, vacuum cleaners, washing machines, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, computers, printers, lamps, stereos, and portable heaters.

The frequency for PAT testing varies between 3 to 12 months and depends on several factors such as the age of the equipment, how often it is used, or if it has been misused, altered, or repaired in the past.


The electrical wiring of your property is an integral part of the electrical system and is laid out during the property’s construction.

As mentioned earlier, it is subjected to general wear and tear over prolonged use and may begin to show signs of faults, especially with the high demand for electricity in modern homes.

These faults may cause the system to malfunction and result in common electric (oftentimes dangerous) faults, such as the ones listed above.

Keeping that in mind, when the wiring in your home reaches the end of its life, it is best to replace it and have your home rewired. This not only makes sure that the wiring is safe to use but also ensures maximum efficiency and compliance with the law.

Electrical rewiring involves replacing all of the wiring and upgrading the consumer unit. The rewiring process is broken down into 2 stages:

  • First fix – when the cables, wiring, and circuits are replaced, and
  • Second fix – when the fittings and switches are installed to prepare the system to go live.

Rewiring also gives you the chance to upgrade your existing wiring to smart wiring. Robust and up-to-date smart wiring allows you to enjoy great home automation features with efficient operation and incredible cost savings.

You can conserve energy, make mundane household chores simpler, remotely control your home and all its appliances, and add a new layer of security to your home with integrated security systems that you can remotely access and control via your smartphones, tablets, and laptops.


Since power surges are a common issue faced by many homeowners, it is important to take the required steps to mitigate the issue. They are unsafe and can damage the electrical equipment attached to the sockets.

The solution lies in what is called domestic surge protection.

Domestic surge protection protects the electronics in your home against power spikes and creates a safe environment that minimises the risk of electric shocks, burns, and fires.

It includes a small appliance or device, known as a surge protection device (SPD), that serves two main functions:

  • To allow you to use a single power outlet to plug in multiple components, and
  • To protect your home and electronic devices from high-voltage power surges.


A consumer unit is an electrical component that controls and monitors the electricity running through your property.

If you have an outdated version or one that is not fit for your needs, you will notice quite a few of the common faults listed above, such as the circuit breaker tripping, power surges, and the lights flickering.

The solution is to install a new consumer unit that is safer and better suited to your needs. There are several types of consumer units that you can choose from depending on the size of your home and your energy consumption.


If you are looking for a registered electrician for the installation, maintenance, inspection, and rewiring of your property’s electrical system, look no further.

Calder Electrical offers a wide range of services to meet the demands of our clients. All our work is fully insured and we work to meet the standards set to us by the NICEIC to make sure all your electrical installations meet the current regulations and all the notifiable work is signed off by the local authorities.

We have been undertaking electrical work since 1976 and are specialists in the field. If you have unplanned issues within your home or business, we can provide a call-out service to rectify and solve any problems.

Anything from circuits tripping to loss of power, broken items that need repairing, distribution board and consumer unit upgrades, surge protection installation services, and much more.

Our team can generate a Visual Inspection Report (VIR) to identify anything visual that does not comply with the standards or looks unsafe, as well as a full Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) where we will identify and test each circuit to make sure they are not deteriorating and are safe for use within the current standards and regulations set by the BS 7671.

We can also provide PAT testing of appliances to make sure that any items such as kettles, computers, and microwaves are safe for use in the home and workplace.

Contact us here or call us on 0800 612 3001 to make sure your electrical installations are safe and fault-free!

Photo by George Slabov on Unsplash