What To Do If You Smell Smoke (Or See Smoke From Wirings)

Ever smelled something strange in your house, like something’s burning?  A burning smell in your house could be very dangerous because it can potentially lead to a house fire.  Back in October 2014, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) said that house fires have already claimed 80 lives in the past five years.  Almost 50% of house fires start in the kitchen.  Most of them are preventable, and many are caused by us humans not paying attention to little things.  One of those little things is smelling smoke or burning smell.

There are possible causes of burning smell in your house, and these can be hazardous and must not be ignored.  Here are a few causes:

  • Circuit breaker or other wires are loose – if this is the case, it could mean that the wires’ insulation is burning.
  • Wiring may have gotten overloaded – when this happens, the wires pull too much electricity, but the circuit breaker prevents the wires from bursting into flames.
  • Circuit breaker has become faulty – when this happens, it could mean that the breaker’s components’ are burning

Overheated wiring can also result to odor or burning smell, and will require detective work and further investigation.

So, the burning smell can cause electrical fire, what do you do now?

  • Turn off and unplug electrical equipment. These can get damaged when the electricity is turned off and on.
  • Turn off the main power supply. Turn backup generator to standby, if you have one.
  • Call your local electrician to have the problem checked out.

Once you have the wirings checked and potential risks have been addressed, refer to these preventive points:

  • Use extension cords sparingly – Electrical cabling are installed within the walls so that they’re undisturbed or unaltered; however, creating additional points can cause possible faults or can lead to damaged outlets.
  • Check for dimming or flickering lights - This can be caused by other major appliances within the same circuit or whole installation.
  • Check for sparking / arcing – Sparking wires or circuit breaker could mean a much bigger issue so call your local electrician ASAP.  Sparking appliances could mean there’s a problem with the fixture itself and you can call a repairman for this.
  • Check for hot switches or outlets – An appliance produces heat, but the outlet itself should never become hot. Make sure to turn off and unplug whatever is plugged in to the hot outlet.
  • Be aware of buzzing sounds – You’ll know if the electricity is working properly when there’s no sound. It flows quietly between connections.  if you hear a buzzing sound from an outlet, turn off and unplug any appliances plugged in to that outlet.  Stop using it, and make sure to call your local electrician ASAP.
  • Ensure the correct outlets are used in the kitchen and the bathrooms – Water is a terrible conductor of electricity but can cause faults and problems, if come into contact. Make sure that special shock-resistant outlets called ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are used, since these add an extra layer of protection from electrocution.

There are a lot of things to remember to keep your home safe, and a checklist will always help everyone in the family.  Safety should be everyone’s top priority, so make sure that you have a family meeting about this.  Prevention is always better than cure.  You may not prevent all, but the little things can definitely help.   Feel free to call me if you have any questions about your home or office electrical.