An electrical burning smell refers to the smell of burning plastic. This often is seen when there is overheating of wires. When this happens, the insulated material around the wire or switch begins to heat and break down, releasing toxic chemicals into the air. This burn gives off a strong smell that you cannot ignore. You can see it in circuit breaks down, appliances like blenders, ovens, vacuum cleaners, switches, etc. how o we find the source of the electrical burning smell?
What does Electrical Burning Smell Like?
Electrical burning usually smells like plastic, as the wires and other components have plastic insulation. But some are rubber-insulated wires and circuits. In that case, it smells like burning rubber. When inhaling this strong and toxic smell, you will be affected by respiratory issues—primarily asthma, bronchitis, and breathing difficulty. So, if you smell burning plastic, check for an electrical fire.
How to Find the Source of the Electrical Burning Smell?
There are many signs that indicate an electrical burn. For example, suppose the source of the electrical burning smell is an overloaded circuit. In that case, the lights can be observed to be flickering or dimming, excessive heat generated from the switches and sockets, a buzzing noise, or a humming sound coming from the button. Once you start seeing these signs, you know the source of the burning smell is an overload.
If the source is lousy wiring, there will be frequently blown out fuse trip switch, breaker, etc., flickering lights, and burning smell from the appliances or sockets. You better call an electrician to fix the problem.
The burning smell can indicate the source of the problem observing where the smell comes from, whether it’s a switch, socket, appliance, or circuit breaker trip switch. Some outlets or switches turn brown, yellow, or black, will be hot when touched, and can look burnt. This indicates the smell coming from that specific electrical switch.
Some switches send electrical sparks throughout the finger or body when touched, especially with wet hands; this indicates a sure sign of a problem that needs fixing.
Another way to find out the source of the burning smell is an electrical inspection report where we use different tester equipment on codes, wiring, switches, circuit boards, appliances, wiring system, and electrical lines with the help of an expert electrician to identify the source of electrical burning smell.
What Causes an Electrical Smell in the House?
There are several reasons for an electrical burning smell in a house.
- Frayed Wires – The friction caused by two loose or worn-out wires rubbing against each other can cause a spark between them. This can heat the circuit and melt the plastic causing the smell.
- Circuit Overload – when the wiring in circuits is too old. Especially when it does not hold the capacity for modern electrical appliances, the circuit overload can happen when several devices are plugged into one single outlet.
- Electrical System Fault – sometimes, an overload of a circuit can happen when wires are loose or frayed, and it can end up being a short circuit when there is a wiring malfunction. Such faults in the system can cause a fire when in contact with a conductor.
- Defect or Shortcoming in an Appliance Used – sometimes, the electrical appliances can be the reason for the circuit breakdown. Some electrical appliances may wear off on long-term use; they can break internally when dropped on the floor or when there is a power overload. This, in turn, hits the switch burning the insulation around and smelling like burnt plastic.
- The water inside switches and sockets happens when water is mistakenly splashed on the control. Sometimes even rainwater can seep into the buttons outside during storms; this can also be observed when there are leaks in the house. The rust and short circuit problem can spark a fire due to the damage.
- Fault in Electrical Lines – Malfunctioning or incorrectly installed electrical cables can cause burn. The connection can be damaged by external forces like lightning or being knocked over by trees and electrical poles, causing a fire.
What does It Mean When you Smell Electrical Burning but Nothing There?
It could be phantosmia, which is a condition that causes a person to smell an absent odor. It’s an olfactory hallucination. These people can smell a range of scents. The most common types of smell include burning rubber, cigarette smoke, ammonia, and smell rot. This is caused due to specific problems in the nose or mouth. Mostly related to sinus issues.
Causes include common cold, sinus infection, allergic reaction, nasal polyp, dental issues, migraines, neurotoxin exposure, etc.
Is Electrical Burning Smell Toxic?
Yes and no, it depends on the cause and what type of burn has occurred. Any high voltage appliances, electrical overloading, or short-circuits can burn the coil inside, or the cooling oil found. This releases the vapor from the PCB into the air. This is toxic. The fire smells can cause respiratory issues, including shortness of breath, respiratory irritation, asthma, and heart diseases. Exposure to the chemicals in burning plastic, carbon monoxide, or fine particles is toxic to the environment and people.
How do you Get Rid of an Electrical Fire Smell?
To get rid of the electrical burning smell, first make sure all the doors and windows in the house, office, or premise close to the burning electrical socket, switch, or appliance is fully open. Next, switch on the fan if one is available in the location; this will let the air around with the smell be removed.
Even then, if the smell persists, pour some vinegar, add a little baking soda into small bowls, and place them where the smell persists. It will absorb the smell of plastic burning. Clean the burnt areas with soap and water to help remove the scent. If you do not see any spark or fire, but the smell is around, remove all appliances connected to sockets for safety. And finally, call an electrician to examine the place for the problem you cannot handle on your own.
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