Smoking is one of the more urgent signs of a flaw in your electrical system. If you smell electrical smoke, turn off your electricity at the circuit breaker box immediately and call an electrician from a company like Allied Electric Inc. (Unless there's also fire, in which case you should call 911 first!) You can try to locate the source of the smoke while you wait, but leave the electricity off and don't move or change anything before the electrician gets there or you could make the problem more difficult to diagnose. Here are three common reasons why you may be smelling electrical smoke.
1. A wiring problem
There are several wiring problems that can cause electrical fires. One common issue is a malfunction caused by overloading. Modern homes use so much electricity that wiring systems from just two decades ago may be unable to handle the load. This increases the likelihood of overheating, which can then lead to a catastrophic fire. Old, worn-out, incorrectly installed, or damaged outlets and switches are another hazardous wiring problem. If an outlet or switch is visibly damaged in any way, sparks when you plug something in, or is too small for the hole in which it is installed, be sure to get it replaced right away. You can also tell if an outlet is wearing out by simply plugging in an appliance and noting whether it holds the plug tightly in place. If the plug wobbles or feels loose (or falls out of the socket), you may need a new outlet.
2. Damaged or misused cords
You've likely heard that it's unsafe to use extension cords constantly without supervision, to run them under rugs, or to increase their electrical load by plugging in a power strip to the other end. If you disregard these safety guidelines or if you continue to use any cord after it's been damaged (whether it's an extension cord or an appliance cord), your chances of electrical fires rise. Examine each cord carefully for damage before plugging it in and replace cords as soon as they become damaged.
3. Dangerous appliances
Some appliances carry a higher risk of fire than others. For example, older appliances are often less energy-efficient and are therefore more likely to overload your wiring system. In addition, their cords are more likely to be wearing out and (especially if they're a couple of decades old) they may have been made before modern safety codes were set in place. Electrical space heaters can also be a fire hazard; if you operate one, be sure to keep it as far away from everything else in the room as possible and never leave it unattended.
These three hazards may all cause a smoking smell and may also create an actual electrical fire. Be sure to follow safety guidelines for electrical use in order to prevent a disastrous electrical fire, and remember that the first thing to do if you smell smoke is to switch off the electricity.