The cause of an unpleasant smell at home is often easy to identify. A rotten smell in the kitchen? There might be decomposing food in your rubbish bin, or even on the bench top. A rotten smell in the bathroom? You can probably guess the cause, and it's just a case of closing the bathroom door (perhaps with some air freshener to mask the scent). But what about a burning smell at home? This can be far more serious than a rotten smell, and it's important to get to the bottom of the problem.

A Lingering Burning Smell

Does the burning smell linger, or does it seem to be localised? When a burning smell doesn't linger, the issue may be minor. This could be due to an electrical appliance (or even a power outlet) that hasn't been in use for a while. It may have a thin coating of dust both on its surface and throughout its inner components. As the dust heats up, it produces a burning smell. It will only be slight, shouldn't linger, and isn't a major fire risk. The smell is unlikely to reappear the next time you operate the appliance, unless a similarly long period has elapsed between uses.

A Localised Burning Smell 

A localised burning smell can be more serious, but is simple enough to identify. Follow your nose to where the smell is strongest, and inspect any appliances in the vicinity to locate the troublemaker. It must be disconnected from its electrical outlet and switched off. This smell may be caused by an electrical fault, which poses a significant fire risk. Do not use the appliance until it has been professionally inspected and repaired.

When the Smell is Caustic

When the burning smell lingers, and can't be localised, you might have a more serious issue to deal with. This is an urgent matter, especially when the smell is caustic—indicating burning plastic. Contact an electrician to have your home's wiring assessed. Faulty wiring can overheat and begin to smoulder. It will gradually begin to burn its plastic insulation, which explains the strength and acrid nature of the odour. 

When a burning smell lingers and can't easily be traced to its source, you need to take quick action. Such a problem can easily lead to a devastating fire, so please don't ignore these warning signs. Contact an electrician so the source of the smell can be identified and repaired.