What Causes Outlet Sparks & How to Prevent Them

over-loaded electrical outlet sparking

Although it may be scary to see your outlet spark, a minor one isn’t anything to worry about. A spark occurs each time you plug a device into an outlet, but you usually can’t see it because it happens faster than the naked eye can detect it. Keep in mind that not every spark is dangerous, but the following signifies potential danger:

  • The spark lasts seconds or minutes
  • The spark is bright and yellow or orange
  • You can smell smoke afterward 
  • There are burn marks on the outlet
  • Big sparks occur every time you plug something into the outlet

Causes of Sparking Outlets: 

  • Short-circuiting: An electric surge can result in melted wire coatings. If this occurs, you need to stop using these wires because they’ve become a fire hazard. 
  • Water damage: Mixing water with electricity can result in severe injuries or even death. This problem mostly occurs in kitchens and bathrooms, where puddles can go undetected until you insert a wet plug into a socket. Before you plug in a device, inspect the countertops for puddles.
  • Old age: Over time your outlets will show signs of wear and tear. Worn outlets spark more frequently, and have a higher chance of causing a house fire. You can be proactive by contracting an electrician to replace your wiring on outlets over a decade old.

How to Prevent Future Outlet Sparks:

  • Install ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI): To prevent accidents caused by water damage, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommends installing a circuit interrupter, which can shut off your power in 1/40th of a second. 
  • Throw away frayed cords: Nowadays, we have chargers for everything: cellphones, laptops, smartwatches, and even wireless earphones all require a charger. You probably have several cords lying around your home or office without thinking of the potential dangers. Dispose of your cords when you notice them begin to fray and buy replacements. Some people don’t want to spend money on new chargers, but it’s better to spend a few dollars on new ones as opposed to thousands in repairs if a fire breaks out.
  • Regular Outlet Maintenance: In addition to the measures mentioned, regular maintenance of your electrical outlets is crucial for preventing sparks and potential hazards. Over time, connections within the outlets can become loose, leading to intermittent sparking and increasing the risk of electrical fires. It’s advisable to have a professional electrician inspect and tighten these connections periodically. Also, ensure that all outlets have proper cover plates to prevent dust accumulation and keep foreign objects from entering the outlet. Simple steps like these can significantly reduce the risk of sparking and ensure your electrical system remains safe and functional.

Don’t wait for warning signs! Ensure the safety of your home or office by scheduling a professional electrical inspection today. Protect your property and loved ones from electrical hazards. If you have any water damage or fire damage in your home give us a call, we’d be happy to get your home back to it’s original condition!