East-West Electric, Inc

Are Sparking Outlets Dangerous?

outlet plug in a wall

Are Sparking Outlets Dangerous?

You have probably seen a small blue spark when you plug something in to an outlet. This is a harmless and normal event most of the time, but sparking outlets can be a warning sign of potentially dangerous problems. At East-West Electric we can help you determine what your situation is.

Why Is Your Outlet Sparking?

The electrical system in your home is divided into circuits, and some of them have multiple outlets. An electrical current runs fast and hot in this loop and the outlet is where an appliance hops on. There is always a split second when the outlet and the plug connect and almost touch, this is when the electrical current can produce a spark.

If you see it or not, this is actually something that happens every single time you plug an appliance in. It is completely normal and safe. However, there are other situations where sparking can be cause for alarm.

When Are Sparks Bad? 

There are 4 types of sparks coming from outlets that you should not ignore. These include:

  • Big sparks: if there are sparks coming from holes in the outlet cover, odds are they are not harmless
  • Long sparks: a normal harmless spark will come and go in a flash, but if a spark lingers this is a sign of a dangerous problem.
  • White or yellow sparks: harmless sparks are normally blue. Yellow or white sparks are not benign.
  • Smelly sparks: if a spark smells of smoke or melting plastic this is a very serious problem that needs to be fixed immediately.

What Causes These Spark Problems?

There are a number of reasons why dangerous sparks happen:

#1 Short-Circuiting

If a hot wire in the outlet touches the ground or neutral wire, it can cause a short circuit. If this is the case, the outlet can draw excessive current and create excessive heat, which can melt wires and may cause a fire. You can turn off the circuit breaker and remove the outlet plate and check for any signs of melting or scorching that can indicate a short circuit.

#2 Moisture

It is possible that you have a leak in your walls, or maybe there was water splashed in through the outlet cover. If there is any moisture in there, there is a risk of sparking caused by electrical damage, including short circuits.

#3 Overloading

If you have many appliances and devices plugged into one outlet, sparking is even more likely to occur. You should spread out your appliances across circuits and outlets.

#4 Old Outlets 

Electrical contact points inside outlets can wear out with repeated use. When there is extreme wear, this can end in extreme electrical arcing.

#5 Improper Repairs

If you see any sparks in outlets installed by someone without the necessary certifications and licensing, you need to have it inspected by a licensed electrician.

Licensed Electricians Near You

Have you seen any concerning sparking in your home’s outlets? Unless you know they are safe sparks, reach out to East-West Electric for a proper inspection and repairs. Call us at (727) 771-9403 to schedule a visit!