If you know from inspection or your own visual perusal of the property that the wiring is visibly aged or damaged, it’s time to call an electrician in to bring things up to code before it gets worse.
Buzzing, Sparking, Flickering, or Hot Plates/Outlets
If there is buzzing, sparking, or flickering coming from your lights, outlets, or wiring, you need professional help as soon as possible. All of these issues are sure signs of severe damage to the electrical system. Left unchecked, they could easily cause a fire or an electrocution. This warning should also be applied to switch plates that are hot to the touch or that conduct electricity through the screws.
A Burning Smell
If you smell burning plastic after turning on lights or plugging something into an outlet, you need help immediately! This is likely an indicator of highly damaged wires in the wall. If possible, turn off power to the area where the smell originated and then call as soon as possible, while monitoring for an actual fire.
Tripping Circuit Breakers
If you find that circuit breakers regularly trip or turn off when you use lights or appliances, that’s a sign that the electrical system cannot handle the demands of modern users. A breaker tripping is a safety mechanism, meant to prevent overheating of overloaded wires that could lead to a house fire.
In short, you should hire an electrician for any persistent issues or safety-related updates. Of course, it is critical to have the electrical system evaluated by a professional inspector prior to the decision to purchase the property to determine what condition it is in. However, if the property has been vacant for some time, was inherited, was purchased without an inspection, or was purchased despite having electrical system issues, you may run into these or other unexpected issues. Always put the safety of yourself, your workers, and future buyers first!