The mere thought of your outlet producing a spark can be worrying not to mention when it happens. The good news is, in most cases, a small spark from your outlet can be normal. Here’s why.
Your outlets are connected to circuits that constantly feed them electric power. Hence, when you want to plug an appliance, electrical current can reach across from the outlet to the plug when it is very close to it.
Now, the truth is such sparks happen all the time or often, but they normally happen faster than your eyes can see. When you do see a spark, it is quick and has a blue color. This spark is harmless and should be no cause for alarm.
At the same time, there are dangerous outlets sparks that you must never ignore. They include:
- A bright yellow or white spark. Harmless sparks are blue but these other colors mean danger.
- A spark that lasts a few seconds. This is better described as a long spark. The normal spark that occurs when the plug and electrical outlet almost touched is short and over within a second. But sparks that fizzle and linger indicate something else.
- Big scary sparks that leap out of the outlets. If you experience big sparks that leap out of the outlet holes, you can be certain it’s not the friendly type.
- Sparks followed by burning smell or smoke. The smell of burning plastic is impossible to miss. So is smoke and visible burn marks on the outlets.
Why would this happen?
Dangerous sparks are usually an indicator of deeper problems. Sometimes it could mean that the outlet is faulty; other times the problem is with your wiring. Below are causes of harmful electrical sparks:
- Old age
When your outlet is worn and old, it is possible for sparks to occur. The outlet is no longer safe to use or efficient. The best solution is to contact an electrician for a replacement.
Water is no friend of electricity. Mixing the two can lead to serious injury or death. To determine if moisture is the problem, consider the location of the outlet and if there are leaks in the walls. Outlets in the kitchen or bathroom area are prone to moisture damage.
- Short circuit
This happens when the hot wire touches the neutral ground wire. Heat can easily melt the wire coatings in this case, and then the outlet will become a fire hazard.
Too many devices plugged in at one time to an outlet can cause dangerous sparks to fly.
- Improper repairs
This happens more often than you think and mostly because of the electrician hired. Improper repairs by an inexperienced person can be dangerous.
What you can do
Turn off power to the room from the circuit breaker.
Call an electrician to assess the problem and confirm if buying a new outlet is the solution. Be sure to call a professional and licensed electrician to avoid further problems.