Many people consider themselves to be dexterous and always try to fix any problems that may come up around the home. Certainly, this can be a good way of saving money but sometimes you need to overlook the urge to DIY and call in the experts, instead. In particular, there are several different electrical problems which need an engineer's attention without any delay. What do you need to be concerned about?
Evidence of Burning
Firstly, be on the lookout for any unusual marks on or around electrical outlets. Sometimes, when an old outlet starts to deteriorate resistance may build up, causing excessive heat. You may have an extension cord plugged into this outlet with many powerful appliances attached. This could overload the outlet, causing a power surge, damage to the wiring and burn marks. These burn marks will be very obvious and may also be accompanied by a smell of carbon. Disconnect anything that is hooked up to this outlet and turn it over to the experts for further investigation.
When you're lying in bed at night and everything is quiet, can you hear a strange "humming" sound? If this appears to be coming from electrical equipment, then there may well be an issue that needs your immediate attention. Sometimes, this is a vibration due to frequency differences, while other times it could be due to wiring issues. If the noise is prevalent, or may be louder than it used to be, turn to an electrician for further advice.
Does the circuit breaker in your house "trip" on a regular basis? If so, this could indicate that the insulation is damaged, or electrical devices plugged into the system may have developed a ground fault and are short-circuiting. A short circuit, in particular, is very worrisome as it generates an extremely high current that can damage equipment and eventually cause a fire. Don't treat this circuit breaker issue as simply a nuisance, but as an issue that needs to be addressed right away.
Lastly, if you have any kind of flooding event that may impact your electrical wiring or outlets, don't think that everything will be "okay" given enough time to dry out. Wires may become exposed, while the presence of any moisture near to the system may cause a short circuit, which could prove fatal to anybody coming into contact with an affected appliance.
Picking Up the Phone
Emergency electricians are on call to deal with any of these problems and in this case, it's much better to be safe rather than sorry.