Electrical Sparks from Outlet

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Jun 27, 2013 | Chaya Kurtz

short circuit by water

Electrical sparks from an outlet are normal...sometimes. Occasionally there is a small blue electric spark as you plug in an appliance. This is just a little electron action, and it's no big deal. Any more sparks from an outlet, and you're looking at an electrical fire waiting to happen, because what you're dealing with is a short circuit.

What causes a short circuit?

A short circuit results when two bare wires touch each other, causing an immense amount of heat, and also sparks. That heat can cause electrical fires behind the walls. How do wires become bare? Heat can actually melt the electrical wire casings, and excess heat in an outlet is usually a result of age, wear, or faulty installation.

Possible electric spark causes

Loose outlet cover. Electrical sparks from an outlet may be caused by a loose outlet cover. To investigate, first turn the power off at the breaker box. Then take a look at the outlet cover; if it is loose, tighten it up. Turn the power back on and try plugging in your appliance. If you don't see electrical sparks from the outlet, then the loose outlet cover was the problem.

Water. Water can also cause sparks from your outlet. When moisture, such as a plumbing leak, is in the presence of exposed wires, the water can conduct electricity from the exposed wires. Over time, leakage current can produce an immense amount of heat. If there is something combustible nearby, like drywall, an electrical fire could start from that heat.

When to call an electrician

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, you should call a licensed  electrician if you notice any of the following:

  • A burning smell coming from an appliance.
  • Flickering lights.
  • Recurring tripped breakers or burned out fuses.
  • Discolored or broken wall outlets.
  • Electrical sparks from an outlet.

Chaya Kurtz writes for Networx.com.

Updated December 28, 2017.

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