Explainer: How To Deal With Overheated/Burnt Wiring

According to reports from the National Fire Protection Authority (NFPA) and the National Electrical Code (NEC), faulty wiring is one of the most common causes of fires in many households across the US. Faulty electrical wiring often tends to lead to burned or melted wires which usually end up causing fires or damaging appliances. In this post, the discussion will focus on the main causes of burned and melted wires, the top signs that your wires are burnt as well as how you should handle this problem.


What Are the Most Common Causes of Burnt Electrical Wires?


1. Loose Connections


The main cause of melted wires is usually loose connections. When fixing wires to outlets, your installer should always ensure that the wires are firmly fixed and held in place by the terminals found at the back of the receptacle. If your installer fails to firmly fix the wires to the terminals, they usually end up becoming loose. When electrical wires become loose, it is very easy for the wires to burn and melt.


2. Overloading of The Circuit


Electric circuits are usually designed to only convey a certain amount of current while holding a specified amount of heat. If you repeatedly overload your electrical outlets, they will eventually generate heat that the circuit breakers in your home cannot handle. If your circuit breakers fail to break the current as they should when the system overloads, the heat generated at your outlets will eventually start burning the wires.


3. Improper Use of Electrical Outlets


If you are conveying electricity to a different part of your home using an electrical extension cord, you should ensure that the cord is placed in an area where the flow is not going to be impeded. This means that you should place the cord in an area where it will not be stepped on. If the cord is stepped on, the flow of electric power will be restricted meaning that the heat flowing through the wires will also be impeded. This can easily cause the wires at the terminals in the outlet to start burning.


4. Old Electrical Connections


Over time the National Electrical Code usually provides guidelines on how connections to the power grid should be done. These guidelines usually take into account innovations that have been made in the electrical industry. Homes that were built a long time ago may have connections that do not conform to the recommended electrical code. Due to normal wear and tear, old electrical wiring and connection systems tend to be highly vulnerable to burning.


5. Improper Installation


If you are seeking to get electrical wiring services, you should only rely on the services of a trained, licensed, and experienced electrician. A skilled electrician has the knowledge, skillset, and experience to install your wiring properly. If you hire an unskilled technician, they can easily make mistakes in the wiring which can make wiring burn up or melt.


6. Coiled Wires


When electrical wires coil, they usually end up starting a magnetic field current. When a magnetic electric field starts, it usually leads to the production of excess heat in the electrical wires. When the heat becomes too much, the plastic coating on the wires usually starts burning and melting.


7. Power Overload


A power overload can cause extra heat to surge through your electrical wiring. If your wires cannot handle the heat, they will end up burning. 



Top Signs That You Have Burnt Wires


Given that most electrical wires are usually hidden by insulation and drywall, identifying if you have burnt wires can be daunting. However, there are some that your wiring is burnt or melted that you can watch out for including:


The odor of smoke emanating from your electrical outlets

A lingering burning order along your electrical circuit that only increases with time

Visible smoke coming out of your outlets

Electrical outlets that no longer work

Flickering lights

Appliances and gadgets that flicker



A Simple Guide on How to Handle Burnt Wires


If you notice any or several of the signs highlighted above, you should ensure that you take the problem of burnt/melted wires fixed without delay. The longer that you wait, the higher the risk of a fire starting.


First, call in a licensed electrician to carry out a thorough inspection so as to identify all the areas in your electrical circuit that have been affected by this problem. A skilled electrical technician will be able to advise you if you need to carry out repairs or overhaul your entire electrical wiring system. If you do not have any knowledge on how to handle electrical systems, do not attempt DIY repair. 


If you have already identified the outlet with burnt wires, first turn off power at the mains and then unscrew the affected outlet. Disconnected the burnt wires from the terminals at the back of the outlet and then cut off the part that is burnt. Remove a small part of the insulation covering the part of the wire that is not burnt and then connect it back to the terminals at the back of the outlet. Ensure that you do this firmly so that the wire is held firmly in place and then screw the outer terminal cover in place.


Some of the other steps you can take to ensure that you do not face the problem of burnt/melted wiring in your home again include:


Getting your electrical system inspected regularly to ensure that it is up to code

Overhauling the wiring in your home if the wiring has been in place for too many years

Avoid overloading your power outlets

Use only genuine electrical supplies and components

Installing circuit breakers

Ensure that you only hire a skilled and certified electrician to carry out installations, inspections, and any requisite repairs


You can avoid the risk of an electrical fire by ensuring that you do not have any faulty wiring that can cause burnt wires in your home. If you spot any of the signs of burnt wires that we discussed earlier in this article, you can contact us at (253) 285-7355 so that we can fix the problem immediately.

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