MacBook chargers are incredibly expensive, so my partner decided she wouldn’t buy another one until she absolutely needed to. We watched as the charger became frayed, and the wiring became exposed; I told her it was a fire hazard, she told me she’d be extra careful. One day, she plugged it in, and she could literally see sparks coming off of the exposed wire; that day, she threw it out and bought a new one. I was very glad she decided to, because I felt uncomfortable every time I saw that charger.

Wires are covered in casings that resist electricity, and when these casings are removed, as in the case of the MacBook charger, it poses several potential dangers. The first and least worrisome among these is still pretty bad; exposed wire can cause damage to your electronic device. At best, your device won’t get as much power as it should; it will charge more slowly, and the screen might appear more dim when the device is plugged in. At worst, damaged wiring may generate a power surge that can brick your device, a term for a device that’s no more functional than a brick.

Destroying electronic devices is the least of the potential problems, though. Like my partner’s MacBook charger, exposed wires can generate sparks and heat, and sparks and heat can generate fire. Electronic device chargers aside, when you have old wiring in your home, it can also become damaged or exposed; the older your home is, the more likely you are to have this problem. When you encounter repeated breaks in power for a particular room, it may be because of faulty wiring; calling a full-service electrical contractor to check on things can be an excellent idea if you can’t find the source yourself.

You shouldn’t try to handle faulty electrical wiring yourself; these things carry enough charge to power your devices or your home, so they certainly carry enough charge to damage you. Serious injury and even death can be caused by mishandling exposed wiring, so unless you’re 100% confident you know what you’re doing, and you have all the proper tools and safety equipment, it’s best to call an electrical contractor to do repairs. They’ll do a better job, and it could very well save your life.

It’s worth mentioning that a lot of landlords might be reluctant to rewire their homes, for fear of the costs. While the upfront cost can be daunting, depending on the types of repairs being done, it can save you money in the long run. When there are exposed wires in your home, you’re certainly violating municipal codes, and the fines that can be levied against you can add up to a lot more that getting the repairs done. Old-school wiring can also increase the cost of your insurance dramatically; some insurers won’t even touch old knob-and-tube homes. When there’s exposed or damaged wiring, don’t take the financial or physical risk of leaving it be; get it repaired as soon as possible!