What Causes an Electrical Outlet to Spark?
If you have ever experienced an unexpected outlet spark, it can be pretty shocking (no pun intended). In the United States, supply lines generally carry electricity at 115 to 240 volts. When you plug something in, you’re dipping into this current to power your appliances and lights, making the potential for electrical outlet sparking very real.
If sparks are large and hot enough, they can even start a house fire. So, when you notice an electrical outlet sparking in your home, it’s important to take a closer look. While some sparks may be part of normal operation, other times they can be a sign of a severe issue. It all depends on the cause of the sparking.
COMMON CAUSES OF SPARKING OUTLETS
- Normal sparking: When power is suddenly diverted from the normal current flow to an appliance, you may sometimes see a small, brief spark between the socket and the prongs as you plug something in. This is normal and nothing to be concerned about.
- Short circuits: If an outlet becomes overheated, the insulation can melt and expose the wiring. When you plug something in, electrons jump from the exposed wire, making a large, noticeable spark that may be enough to start a fire.
- Water: A splash of water on an outlet will cause it to spark and short out. That’s why ground fault circuit interrupters (GCFI) are installed in bathrooms. These special outlets shut off the circuit when exposed to water to prevent sparking.
- Old outlets and cords: As connections loosen behind old outlets, electrical outlet sparking becomes more likely. Old appliances and extension cords can also cause outlets to spark.
- Overheated wiring: Power strips are useful for getting more out of a single outlet, but if you attempt to plug too many appliances or lights into the same outlet, the wiring could overheat. This is especially true with old, flimsy extension cords used to power too many strings of holiday lights.
- Shoddy repair work: If you attempt to fix an outlet or wire an appliance yourself, it’s important to know exactly what you’re doing. Otherwise, poor work could result in dangerous electrical outlet sparking.
If an outlet occasionally creates a small, brief spark, you have nothing to worry about. However, if a spark scares you every time you plug something in, you could have a problem. Don’t wait for it to escalate into a house fire!
If you need help figuring out the reason for electrical sparks in your central Florida home or business, please let us know today! We would love the opportunity to speak with you further, answer any questions you may have, and provide you with any electrical services you might need.
Volt Electrical Services is a licensed electrical contractor focused on providing prompt and responsive service with a focus on safety. We offer courteous 24 Hour Customer Service to respond to critical issues as well as address any of your electrical needs.
For electrical services in Central Florida, Orlando, Palm Bay, Lakeland, Melbourne, Deltona, Daytona Beach, Kissimmee, Altamonte Springs, and Sanford, or their surrounding areas, contact us online or call us at (866) 238-3243 today!