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As most buildings in the UAE tend to be new-builds, the problems that the rest of the world faces with old and rundown buildings are not often solved. However, with developments constantly changing owners and regulations not always consistent, possible safety concerns could occur like electrical wiring that is not installed properly.
One warning sign that there may be a problem is circuit breakers and fuses going out periodically. While circuit breakers can be reused, fuses need to be replaced whenever they ''blow out.'' If too many high-amp appliances are plugged into a single circuit, it may blow out because the total amp plugged in is higher than what the breaker or fuse is rated for.
Another warning sign would be the dimming and flickering of lights, a sign of an overloaded circuit. While occasional dimming can occur in good wiring systems, if it happens often, it may be a sign of faulty wiring or a bad circuit breaker that needs to be replaced.
A third sign is buzzing, charred or discolored outlets or switches. This is a potentially dangerous situation and the outlet should be replaced immediately; however, faulty wiring or a loose connection may be causing a short which causes the outlet to arc and make a mini-fire that results in the outlet's surface charring.
The fourth sign is when switches or outlets give a shock which indicates that something is shorting out. If it continues when a device is removed, have the wiring examined.
A final problem sign is a burning smell with no identifiable source. As electrical fires tend to have an acrid smell, even shorts that cause a brief burn have the same smell. In this instance, call an electrician immediately and have a foam/CO2 fire extinguisher handy. If the short is in the wiring inside a wall and not in the outlet, turn off the circuit breaker until the electrician arrives.
• Immediately call an electrician if you notice a burning smell
• Dimming and flickering of lights is a sign of an overloaded circuit
• Replace charred or discolored electrical outlets and switches
Source: Nicholas Baker, Special to gulfnews.com
The writer is a freelancer