Have you noticed an outlet in your home sparking when you plug in or unplug a device? If so, you might be wondering if this is a normal occurrence or if it signals a bigger problem. While sparks can sometimes be the harmless result of static electricity, sparking outlets can indicate a more serious issue with your home’s electrical system.
Below, we’ll explain the difference between “normal sparks” and “bad sparks” and when you should involve an electrician.
A BRIEF RUNDOWN ON OUTLETS
To help you understand why outlets spark, you might need a quick explanation of how outlets fit into your home’s electrical system. Basically, different areas of your home are supplied electricity through a system of wires called a circuit. Things like switches and outlets are at the end of those circuits.
When you plug the metal prongs of a device into an outlet, you’re allowing electricity to flow from the circuit into the device via the outlet. With this in mind, let’s explore why outlets spark.
NORMAL SPARKS VS. BAD SPARKS
As mentioned before, not all sparks are cause for concern, but some are a sign of an electrical issue.
An electrical current can sometimes “jump” across a gap. Gaps like these can occur when you’re just about to plug in a device or when you’ve just unplugged it. For a split second, the prongs are close enough for the electrical current to reach, and when it makes that “jump” or “arc,” you’ll see a small, brief spark. This is normal and not cause for concern.
While a brief, odorless spark shouldn’t worry you, it’s time to contact an electrician if you see a spark that has one or more of these characteristics:
- It lingers and fizzles, as opposed to briefly flashing.
- It’s noticeably white or yellow, as opposed to blue.
- It leaves behind a smell similar to burning or melting rubber or plastic.
- The spark is especially large and looks like it wants to fly out of the outlet holes.
These types of sparks can result from various problems, including short circuits, hidden leaks, worn-out electrical components, overloaded outlets, or outlets that were not properly installed or repaired. If ignored, these issues can lead to an electrical fire. The worst part is that you might not even see the fire start because it will begin behind your walls.
See “Bad Sparks?” Contact an Electrician!
Preventing a catastrophic electrical fire is absolutely doable as long as you keep an eye out for the warning signs and take immediate action. Don’t wait to contact your trusted electrician if you see concerning sparks flying from your outlets.
At My Electric Works, safety is our top priority. For reliable electrical services that are always safe and up to code, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Columbus team today at (614) 515-4520.