Why Do My Electrics Smell Like Fish?

Why Do My Electrics Smell Like Fish?

Often misdiagnosed fishy odours are a common indication of electrical problems in a house. The odours can be hard to track down and may come and go as the current draw on the outlet increases or decreases with use.

However it is important to determine which outlet is causing the problem as it could lead to a fire if it is not repaired quickly.

What Causes the Fishy Smell?

When a circuit overheats, the plastics and heat-resistant chemicals used in sockets, circuit breakers, or wiring insulation may emit a fishy or urine-like smell. The odour can be carried throughout the house and it may intensify or fade with changing temperatures and circuit usage. This can make it difficult to identify which room the smell is coming from, or which socket.

The odour can be caused by any number of electrical problems, including:

  • Overloaded circuits
  • Undersized wiring
  • Undersized circuit breakers
  • Loose plugs in sockets
  • Damaged sockets that are arcing or sparking
  • Frayed or damaged electrical insulation
  • Short circuits

Usually, the fish smell is an early indicator of a serious electrical problem that could lead to a fire. That is why it is important to have your electrical system professionally inspected when you notice a fishy, urine-like or burnt plastic smell near any sockets or electrical devices.

How Can An Electrician Help?

An electrician can find the cause of the fish odour quickly and replace the affected components. In many cases, only the socket will need to be replaced, usually due to loose or broken contacts inside, loose wires or physical damage. In other cases, the damage may be more extensive, requiring replacement or repair of wiring, new breakers, or upgraded components to achieve higher current ratings.

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