Find Out More: Sparking Outlet
You’ve probably seen it a few times – a small sparks when you plug in an appliance. Most of the times, outlet sparks are safe and normal however you still need to pay attention as it is an indicator that there’s something wrong with the outlet worse a potentially more dangerous problem.
If there are large sparks and it is hot enough, you should be alarm as it can cause electrical fires. To prevent serious problems like this, let’s explore why these sparking outlets happen and how to repair them.
Why do Outlets Spark?
An Electrical System has countless circuits with multiple outlets. The electricity running through your home from the main power grid moves fast and hot in this continuous loop. When you plug in appliances, there is a split second where the outlet and plug connections are almost touching, and the electrical current may stretch across the gap, making the potential for electrical outlet sparking very real.
It doesn’t matter if you see “sparks” every time you plug in appliances, it happens, and it’s harmless. However, there are other types of sparks that you should take a closer look.
How can I distinguish“Dangerous Sparks”?
- Long sparks – Harmless sparks will come and go in a flash. But if spark continues and lingers, you should switch off your outlet and unplug the appliances immediately.
- Big sparks – If you notice the sparks are leaping out of the holes in the outlet cover, definitely this is a dangerous type of sparks.
- Yellow/White sparks–Safe sparks are usually blue in color, if what you see is a yellow or white spark, then you need to contact your electrician.
- Smelly sparks – After an outlet sparks, if there is a smell of smoke or melting plastic, you should immediately shut off the outlet at the circuit panel as it may lead to a fire.
Factors Causing Your Outlets to Spark
- Short-Circuiting.There are some cases that too much heat builds up in a power outlet which can melt the insulation around the wires. When these cables are exposed and touch its neutral or ground it can cause a short circuit or even cause a fire.
Switch off the outlet’s circuit breaker and remove the outlet plate to check for melting which would be a sign of short circuit.
- It’s either there may be a leak within your walls or a water splashed in through the outlet cover. Water can cause electrical damage. Use electrical outlet covers to avoid this especially if you have kids at home.
- The more electronic devices you have plugged into a single outlet, the greater the potential for sparking. Use different outlets to avoid overloading which may cause a fire too.
- Old Outlets. As you use power outlets day and night, the connections inside your outlets can wear out. Old outlets increase the risk of a short circuit. Appliances cables that are old may also cause spark problems. Replace your old outlets using the procedure below. Do not wait for your old outlets to cause you trouble in the future.
- Improper repairs. Attempting to self-solve electrical problems may cause you much more hazard. If you want to replace or repair your old outlet it is important that you know exactly what you are doing.
How to repair an outlet sparks?
What you’ll need?
ü New electrical outlet
|ü Wire caps or electrical tape|
ü Wire pliers
ü Wire strippers
ü Safety glasses
|ü Safety gloves||
ü Screwdriver set
Step 1: Purchase a new outlet and new materials
Buy a new electrical outlet to replace the defective one. Make sure you purchase the outlet with the correct voltage. Check if it’s 100 volts or 220 volts outlet.
Step 2: Turn off the power button to the room
Go to power main breaker box in your home and switch off the circuit breaker that leads to the room where the defective outlet is located. Ensure you switch off the correct circuit breaker for your safety.
Step 3: Test the circuit for safety
After you turned off the circuit breaker, you need to double check if there is no voltage being passed to the outlet. Wear your safety gloves and goggles and set your multimeter to measure for voltage then place the probe in the blade of the outlet, to verify if there is no voltage being passed from the circuit breaker.
Step 4: Remove the Faulty Outlet
Once you’re 100% sure that the faulty outlet is free from electricity, you can begin the removal process. Remove the screw that holds the cover then remove the outlet and wires from the rear that lead to the circuit breaker box.
In many cases, the wires will be attached with a screw type terminal while other outlets are wires may be pushed into a recessed opening on the back of the receptacle. If you have the latter, use a pair of wire pliers and gently but firmly pull the wires out.
Step 5: Check and inspect the wiring
Before you install the new electrical outlet inspect the wires to make sure there are no damaged wiring. If there is, you’ll need to install new wiring and connect to it with a wire cap or electrical tape.
Step 6: Install the new electrical outlet
Reverse the process used for removing the defective outlet to install the new one. Attach the wires to the receptacle by using the screw terminals or by gently pushing the wires into the back of receptacle with a pair of wire pliers. After that, screw the receptacle back into the outlet box and reattach the cover plate.
Step 7: Turn the power back on
Switch the power back on to the main breaker box. Test and observe the outlet if there is still a spark.
Sparking outlet is safe if it’s once in a while. But, when an outlet spark is unusual and makes you nervous, this should not be ignored. Ask a professional or a licensed electrician to fix your sparking outlet, or you can do it on your own provided by precautions and proper procedures.