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The Smell of Fish in Your House Could Be a Health Risk

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Fish is a notoriously smelly food. But unless you’re cooking it every day, a fishy odor that lingers for days, weeks, or months could be a sign that something isn’t quite right with your electrics — and it shouldn’t be dismissed.

It might sound odd, but a fishy smell can be an early indicator of a serious electrical problem that could potentially lead to a fire.

When a circuit develops a fault and overheats, the plastics and heat-resistant chemicals used in sockets, circuit breakers, or wiring insulation often emit a fishy or urine-like smell. This odor can be carried throughout the house by things like heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. It may grow stronger or fainter with changing temperatures and circuit usage, sometimes making it difficult to pinpoint exactly where it’s coming from.

What should I do if my home smells fishy?

If you ever notice this smell and you haven’t cooked fish, you should inspect your home immediately and check switches and plugs for any signs of heat or burning. If you can identify the source of the smell, turn off the appliance straight away. If you can’t, you should isolate the circuit using your RCD (residual-current device) and call in a certified electrician to carry out an inspection as soon as possible.

In many cases, the culprit could be something simple like a loose connection in a plug or socket that needs attention, or a socket that has been overloaded by a high-powered appliance like a tumble dryer. Sometimes only the plug socket itself will need to be replaced. 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.

How to Prevent Electrical Items Overheating

Make sure your circuits aren’t overloaded. This happens when too many appliances which work on high power are connected through the same socket.

Keep an eye out for short bursts of sparks when you plug-in appliances or devices. This is a warning sign that the wiring may not be in the best condition.

Ensure electrical items have portable appliance testing (PAT). This is where electrical appliances are checked through a series of visual inspections and electronic tests and are the best ensuring that your appliances are safe for use.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Yours.

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