Thomas Edison Electric logo

What is an Electrical Emergency?

From strange smells to scary sounds, many electrical issues require immediate attention.

Electrical emergencies don't follow a schedule. They can happen anytime, leaving you wondering whether you need help or if it can wait. You might wonder, "When should I be concerned about a smell?" or "Do I need emergency electrical services after hours?" Here's what you need to know when making these important decisions.

Burning Smells and Heat

Don't ignore a burning smell from your electrical outlets, switches, or appliances. While new devices may initially emit an odor, it should disappear quickly. 

Older appliances shouldn't have a smell at all. Lingering or off-putting odors pose health risks and may signal a deeper issue. If the problem persists, it could be a faulty outlet.

Troubleshooting Outlets

First, check for heat. If an outlet is warm, contact us. If it’s smoking or sparking, call 911 first and then contact an emergency electrician.

Electrical Panels Overheat, Too

It isn't just outlets. Your electrical panel should only feel warm if exposed to direct sunlight. Any sign of overheating or failure requires immediate attention.

Discoloration is an Indicator

In addition to heat, pay attention to appearance. Discolored outlets and switches indicate overworked circuits nearing failure. Stop using these until a professional can evaluate the situation.

Hearing Strange Buzzing or Humming?

Unusual buzzing or humming sounds can mean loose wires or an overloaded outlet. You may be able to solve this issue on your own, but certain symptoms suggest a bigger problem.

Troubleshooting Strange Sounds

Unplug devices from the outlet that was making noise and observe the results. Did the sound stop? If so, plug the same device into another outlet. Did the noise happen again? If yes, the problem is likely with the device.

If the noise stops, plug a different appliance into the first outlet. Does the sound occur again? Chances are good there's a problem with the outlet.

Carbon Monoxide is Silent but Deadly

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer often linked to improper appliance installation or furnace issues. If your carbon monoxide detectors sound or you experience symptoms like blurred vision, dizziness, or nausea, leave your home immediately and call 911.

After emergency services have checked your home, call an electrician. We can hardwire your carbon monoxide detectors, so you needn't worry about battery failure. Don't leave your safety up to chance.

Shocks and Sparks Can Kill

Feeling an electric shock when using appliances or switches is alarming. After seeking medical attention, you should get help from a professional to be sure nothing's amiss with your wiring.

Seeing sparks when you use switches or plug in a cord could be cause for concern. Sometimes, electricity arcs, and it's particularly visible in low light or at night. Turning off switches slowly makes arcing more likely to occur. Still, it's worth getting the problem checked out by a pro.

What Causes Shocks?

Shocks can result from damaged cords, overloaded circuits, or water contact. None of these are a good sign for your electrical system; all can mean danger to you and your family.

Fortunately, it's usually easy to troubleshoot and replace faulty wiring or circuits. As soon as you verify with a medical professional that you're okay, call us to evaluate the problem with your wiring.

What Causes Sparks?

Sparks are a sudden release of energy through heat and light. Sparks may occur in your home when an electrical current jumps across a gap in a circuit or between two conductive materials. This may happen when you plug in or unplug an electrical device.

Don't take chances if you witness electrical sparks while plugging in appliances. While it may not be an issue, only a pro can tell you for sure.

Sparks can also occur when lightning strikes. Even if lightning doesn't hit your home directly, it can still damage your electrical systems. If lightning strikes your home, you should request an evaluation of your wiring and breaker box. We can also help install whole-home surge protectors to prepare you for a future disaster.

Bathroom appliances trip circuit breaker
Hair dryer and flatiron in the bathroom trip a circuit breaker

Tripped Breakers and Partial Power

Repeatedly tripped circuits are a red flag for more significant electrical issues. It might be an aging breaker or an overloaded circuit.

Partial power or outages can also signal breaker box or circuit issues. Whether it's wires past their prime or circuits asked to do too much, these system flaws can put you in danger. 

They can also lead to blackouts. Sudden, unexplained power outages can be unsettling. Contact your utility company to rule out local issues. If the problem persists, you'll need additional help.

In addition, voltage fluctuations can wreak havoc on your electronics. You may have voltage issues if you experience flickering lights or frequent appliance malfunctions. Protect your investments – contact an electrician to assess and prevent potential damage.

Water and Electricity Don't Mix

Water and electricity are a deadly combination. Never operate electrical switches or devices if you experience flooding, burst pipes, or a leaking water heater. 

Don't even turn off the breakers yourself. Wet electrical components pose a grave electrocution risk. Leave the area immediately and contact an emergency electrician for urgent repairs.

Protect Your Home and Loved Ones

Delaying action in an electrical emergency could lead to costly consequences. Safeguard your home and family by contacting the licensed electrical professionals at Thomas Edison Electric for 24-hour emergency services.

We're available around the clock to address electrical crises because your safety is our top priority! Schedule an appointment with us today!

Why Thomas Edison Electric?

With Thomas Edison in your corner, you don’t have to face electrical problems alone. Our team will work tirelessly to ensure your peace of mind, any time of day or night. We have highly trained & licensed electricians available 24 hours, 7 days a week.


Our skilled professionals deliver safe, affordable, long-lasting electrical services.


Your time is precious. If we’re late, we’ll waive your dispatch fee.


Transparent pricing means written quotes with no surprises.

Your Trusted Local Electrician

Homeowners and business owners trust Thomas Edison for our transparent quotes, on-time arrival, and 24-hour service. We cover everything from emergency electrical issues to home EV charging stations to house rewiring and upgrades.