Residential Electrical Troubleshooting

Electrical voltage meter resting on residential blueprint plans.Whether you own a home or rent, at some point you might find yourself tempted to try residential electrical troubleshooting when a problem occurs.

A word of caution. We cannot stress this enough.

DO NOT fall into the trap of thinking you can fix a small
(or even any) residential electrical problem yourself.

Always hire a certified electrician. Your safety and the safety of your home and family may depend upon it.

Electrical troubleshooting can be quite dangerous and can potentially go very, very wrong, with life-changing consequences.

Our electricians are bonded and certified and have spent years perfecting their craft. If you have an electrical problem, connect with us by email.

Contact one of our electricians 24/7 Call Premium Electric

Understanding Residential Electrical Problems

Even new builds can (and probably will) experience a variety of common household electrical problems. Furthermore, as homes age, these residential electrical problems will likely become more frequent… and potentially more problematic or hazardous.

Here at Premium Electric, we advocate that you leave residential electrical troubleshooting to professionals.

As a homeowner, you might still want to have a basic knowledge of the electrical workings and wiring in your home. By knowing and understanding potential electrical problems that can occur you will be better able to inform the electrician when he or she arrives.

Basic Electrical Troubleshooting Overview

In this post, our electricians discuss some of the most common residential electrical problems that can occur.

These are by no means the only electrical issues you may experience in your home. It’s always a good idea to get your home electrical system assessed by a licensed electrician.

If you are in any doubt whatsoever about any aspect of your home’s electricity, ask us about doing an electrical safety inspection.

No electrical problem is too big or too small for our electricians.

Electrical Troubleshooting Flickering Lights

What it means:

Ornate table lampIf you think your flickering lights are a sign of poltergeists or other ghostly beings you may have watched too many scary movies.

In all seriousness, though, flickering lights may be as harmless as a loose light bulb or the bulb nearing the end of its life.

However, flickering lights could also be a sign of something much more serious, and potentially dangerous such as:

  • Loose, old, or corroded electrical wiring
  • Voltage irregularities
  • Circuits overloading
  • Faulty light switches
  • Faulty or loose electrical outlet

Hazardous or Harmless:

Any fault or poor electrical connection could cause electrical arching, leading to overheating, sparking, or even an electrical fire.


Contact our licensed electricians. We understand electrical troubleshooting. Even if you’ve tracked down the source of the problem yourself, it’s always best to leave the repair to the experts.

If you need wiring upgrades or a circuit panel upgrade our team of certified electricians can handle it. We also do lighting upgrades.

For a detailed dive into why your lights may be flickering, and what to do about each potential issue, read our blog, “Why Are My Lights Flickering?”

Troubleshooting Loose Electrical Outlets

Loose electrical outlet showing electrical plug falling out.What it means:

Does this happen sometimes when you plug in an electrical cord?

This may indicate that it’s time to call an electrician to repair or replace the outlet.

Hazardous or harmless:

A loose outlet may eventually shake its wires free. This, in turn, could lead to an electrical short, sparking or a potential fire hazard.


First, check your main electrical panel and turn off the circuit breaker to that loose outlet. Then call our bonded and certified electricians at 604-308-6195.

If your loose electrical outlet cannot be repaired, we can install a high-quality, safe, energy-saving outlet.

Our team of Premium Electric electricians live for electrical troubleshooting. We can inspect all the electrical outlets throughout your home to ensure their safety as well.

You will get expert advice on how to improve and upgrade your electrical systems, if necessary, with minimum fuss and effort.

Troubleshooting Warm/Hot Electrical Outlets

Burnt 3-prong electrical outletWhat it means:

It is not uncommon for home appliances to generate heat when in use. However, your electrical outlets should never be warm to the touch.

You must unplug electrical cords if:

  • The outlet itself feels warm or uncomfortably hot
  • If you smell burning wires or smoke
  • If the electrical outlet is loose or wiggly
  • If the plug is loose or sags when plugged in

Hazardous or harmless:

Warm or hot electrical outlets are serious safety issues. Overheated outlets and switches can lead to electrical fires. It goes without saying that anything electrical that shouldn’t be hot but is, is a serious concern.


Unplug all appliances from the outlet in question and turn off its circuit at the mains.

For switches, turn the switch off, as well as the circuit at the mains and call an electrician. Don’t be tempted to do DIY electrical repairs.

Electrical troubleshooting is one of the first things we do. Once the problem is assessed, we’ll be able to suggest the most appropriate action to take to remedy the issue.

Call Premium Electric at 604-308-6195 if you need emergency electrical services 24/7, 365 days a year.

Check out this article on How to Put Out an Electrical Fire should the worst occur.

Electrical Troubleshooting Tripped Breaker

What it means:

When a breaker keeps tripping it could mean several things including:

  • Circuit overloaded – too much electricity is flowing
  • There’s an electrical short somewhere
  • Damaged or defective equipment is causing a ground fault

Residential breaker panel with one tripped breakerSometimes the prime culprits might be the appliances you have plugged in. A hairdryer, heater, or microwave will sometimes draw too much power and cause the breaker to trip.

However, if the breaker keeps tripping when a variety of different appliances are plugged in, it could be a short in the wiring or outlet.

Hazardous or harmless:

A breaker tripping can be harmless in the case of a single appliance being at fault. Just don’t use that appliance on that outlet anymore. However, if the breaker keeps tripping, it might be time to call an electrician in to check the circuit and circumvent any potentially dangerous electrical outcomes.


Reset the breaker and carry on if the breaker doesn’t keep tripping.

However, call us ASAP at 604-308-6195 if you find the same circuit keeps tripping repeatedly.

It could be a short in the wiring or something else that has the potential to be extremely hazardous.

For more on why your circuit breaker keeps tripping, and what the potential causes and solutions might be, read our blog, “Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping – What Do You Do?”

Troubleshooting 2-Prong Electrical Outlets

Graphic showing a 3-prong plug in front of a 2-prong electrical outlet.What it means:

At some point, nearly all of us will experience an electrical shock. This usually occurs when we touch something like a metal object that isn’t properly grounded.

Modern 3-prong outlets are grounded and much safer. However, an electrical shock can sometimes occur if your home still has older 2-prong outlets.

In this case, electrical troubleshooting the wiring in your home may be required in case the wiring has no way to safely conduct and neutralize (or ground) any stray current.

It could, however, also be a case of your electrical system being ungrounded even though you have 3-prong receptacles. In this case, you need to get an electrician in to ground the three-prong outlets properly.

If your outlet needs to be replaced, ask your electrician about the types of electrical outlets available.

Hazardous or harmless:

It goes without saying that any kind of electrical shock is not a good thing. While it may feel small initially, it should not be left unattended otherwise, it could lead to much more danger.


Call us immediately if you’re experiencing an electrical shock of any kind when touching electrical outlets, appliances, or other fixtures connected to your home’s wiring. Do not touch the problem area and don’t try and fix this yourself.

Call us for help at 604-308-6195 or send us an email

Electrical Troubleshooting Burning Smells

What it means:

Any kind of burning smell associated with any kind of electrical fixture in your home is a massive warning of something wrong.

Be sure to address this immediately and call an electrician if:

  • Your home’s electrical outlets are hot or heating up
  • You smell melted plastic or wiring
  • Smoke is emanating from an outlet or appliance
  • You suspect the smell is coming from within your walls (in the wiring itself)

Hazardous or harmless:

As they say, where there’s smoke there’s fire. A burning smell can definitely be hazardous and possibly lead to an electrical fire.


Turn off the relevant circuit at the mains breaker and unplug all appliances attached to the circuit.

Even better, turn off your circuit mains altogether. Now back away and call an emergency electrician. If the burning smell persists or you see smoke or fire, get everyone out of the house and call 911.

Let Us Electrical Troubleshoot for You

Once again, we cannot stress this enough: home electrical DIY is never a good idea.

Dealing with electrical issues is not like tackling fun home projects like tiling your backsplash or installing a ground-level deck. (Although those can end up as DIY disasters as well… just ask our better halves.)

Electrical troubleshooting has the potential for severe safety ramifications, such as electrocution, fire, or worse.

Yes, some wiring problems are just inconveniences; others, however, pose serious hazards. Either way, it’s worth getting your wiring inspected by a licensed electrician.

This is particularly true if you’re buying a house, or if you’ve been in your house for some years and have foregone any sort of electrical inspection or work.

At Premium Electric we only employ fully bonded, certified electricians. They are qualified to help assess the state of your residential electrical system in its entirety and ensure your safety for the future.

Please give us a call at 604-308-6195 if you still have electricity questions or want to learn more about electrical troubleshooting.  We can also be reached by email or please contact us online at any time.


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