What Causes Burnt Electrical Wires?


Faulty wiring is one of the most common causes of house and apartment fires. One type of faulty wiring is the burnt wire; if you’re dealing with issues like light fixtures flickering, refusing to turn on, or the bulbs in them are giving out quicker than usual, you might have a burnt wire. 

Burnt wires are dangerous and can lead to house fires. You may not even know you have one! Here’s what causes burnt electrical wires and the signs that there might be some in your home. 

The Main Cause Of Burnt Wires? Loose Connections


Loose electrical connections are the main reason behind burnt wires. Generally, wires are wrapped around a terminal in the back of all receptacles to anchor them in place. However, some installers will stab the wires through without wrapping them around said terminal. It’s an issue called backstabbing, and any wire that’s “backstabbed” tends to come loose over time. When the wire comes loose, it’s likely to start burning, creating a fire hazard. 


Overloaded Circuits Can Also Lead To Burnt Wires


A circuit in the home can hold a certain amount of heat. If an outlet carries several loads for a long time, it can create an amount of heat too great for the circuit to handle. When the circuit breaker gets too hot, it should trip, but it doesn’t always happen (especially if the system is older). If it doesn’t cut the power, the heat can burn the wires on the inside of the receptacle.


Misusing Outlets Is Another Common Cause Of Burnt Wires


You’re probably using a few extension cords around the house; if it’s the holiday season, you might even be using a lot of them. If the extension cords are in high-traffic areas where people or pets are moving across them, it could impede the flow of electricity. 

Too much jostling from traffic can damage the extension cords and create heat restrictions, fraying and burning the wire in the receptacle to which the cord is connected. When the wire gauge is too small for the current draw, the amount of electricity forced through can heat the wire to an unsafe degree.


The Signs Of A Burnt Wire


Spotting a burnt wire can be difficult, but knowing the signs makes it a lot easier! Here’s what to look for:

  • You smell smoke or a burning odour coming from an outlet.
  • Lights, TV, and other devices are flickering.
  • Small amounts of smoke are coming out of an outlet.
  • Several outlets in one room are not working. In some rooms, the outlets are connected; if the wire in one outlet burns out, it will stop all the other outlets connected to it from working.

Once you realize that you have a burnt wire, you must have a certified electrician fix it as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the greater the chance your burnt wire will turn into a fire!


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