Fifty-three percent of residential fires involve electrical wiring, which is intricately hidden behind the faceplates on your light switches. Flying sparks are obvious, but lots of other electrical danger signs are more subtle. Keeping an eye out for these five warning signs can mean the difference between fire prevention and a fiery disaster.

electric outletNote: If an electrical fire does start, don’t reach for water! It may seem like a natural reaction to douse fire in H2O, but water conducts electricity, so you might get shocked! Plus, throwing water on an electrical fire can actually make it worse. Instead, use an extinguisher that’s designed for electrical fires to stifle the flames.

Need a hand? If you're interested in hiring an electrician, check Angie's List to find a service provider in your area.

  1. Loose ends on extension cords. If your extension cord has loose ends, or you’ve bandaged an extension cord with electrical tape, it’s time to replace it. Damaged cords may have exposed live wires that lead to shock and fire hazards.
  2. Tripping GFI outlets. A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFI) is an outlet typically located in kitchens and bathrooms – often within six feet of a water source – that prevents people from being electrocuted. These outlets immediately stop the flow of electricity (and “trip”) when they sense the slightest change in the current. If your GFI starts tripping repeatedly, you probably have an electrical problem or a worn-out GFI outlet receptacle. Contact an electrician to inspect the problem. To learn more about GFIs, read: Test Your Ground Fault Interrupter.
  3. Wobbly ceiling fans. If your ceiling fan isn’t rotating evenly, your device either isn’t correctly mounted to the electrical box, your blades are unbalanced or your blades are warped. We recommend always calling an electrician to fix damaged wires and electrical boxes.
  4. Inappropriate bulb wattage. Using a bulb that has a higher wattage than recommended is a fire hazard and may overheat the light fixture. If you’re dealing with a fixture with multiple bulbs or a strand of lights, check all of the bulbs individually and replace them as needed. Be consistent with the bulbs’ wattage in this situation.
  5. Warm faceplates. If your faceplate is warm to the touch, you probably have an oversized electrical load operating on that unit. Monitor any warm faceplate you find. If the problem persists, or the faceplate becomes hot to the touch, call an electrician. Note: The exception to this rule is a dimmer switch. Unless it’s too hot to touch, it’s okay.
Information courtesy of

When you are buying or selling property in today's Harrisburg PA real estate market, it's important to have confidence in your real estate professional. Don’s commitment as your Harrisburg PA REALTOR® is to provide you with the specialized real estate service you deserve.

When you are an informed buyer or seller, you'll make the best decisions for the most important purchase or sale in your lifetime. That's why Don’s goal is to keep you informed on trends in Harrisburg PA real estate. With property values continuing to rise, real estate is a sound investment for now and for the future.

As a local area expert with knowledge of Harrisburg PA area communities, Don’s objective is to work diligently to assist you in meeting your real estate goals.

If you are considering buying or selling a home or would just like to have additional information about real estate in your area, please don't hesitate to call me at (717) 657-8700, complete my online form, or e-mail me at