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What You Need to Know About a Sparking Outlet

Posted on: January 7, 2016

sparking-outlet

Ever noticed a slight spark when you plug in an appliance? Maybe a bittle blue zip of electricity with a hair dryer, or a hand blender. If you’re not especially technology-savvy, this phenomena may give you a little fright! After all, when it comes to electrical appliances, wiring or equipment, everyone understand that when the sparks start to fly, it can be scary. So what causes a sparking outlet? Is it normal? Is it dangerous? Answers to questions like these and much more follow!

At Kolb Electric, we understand outlets to a tee. Allow us a moment of your time to teach you about outlet sparking, it’s causes, and when it’s time to be concerned!

How Outlets Work: the Basics

To understand sparking and its causes, it’s important to know a little bit about how an outlet operates. You can essentially think of an outlet as a supply line, doling out the electricity allotted to your home in measured quantities per-circuit. In the United States, our outlets run a high, fast and hot current of around 115 to 240 volts.

The important thing to know about sparking is that in actuality, it always happens when you plug in an appliance. That fast, hot current floods the plug at the moment of contact, and for a split-second the connection is being established. This forms a spark! It’s just that normally, you either don’t see it, or it doesn’t persist.

When Is a Sparking Outlet Dangerous?

As an important note, we at Kolb would like to say that any time you feel threatened or concerned about your electricity, contact a professional or the fire department. We don’t want to see you in dire straits, and assisting you is what electricians like us are here for!

Having said that, generally speaking, sparking outlets are a cause for concern if:

  • The spark persists. If the spark lasts longer than the brief moment of initial contact, shut off your electricity at the panel (just flip the breaker) and then unplug the appliance. Next, call on a professional right away. A persistent spark means there is some long-term damage in your outlet wiring, and it carries a serious risk of electrical fire.
  • You smell burning, “ozone” or smoke. If any of these smells follow a spark when plugging in your appliance, it usually indicates a wire has melted, and wires that shouldn’t be making contact are doing so. This is dangerous, and cause property loss on many levels!
  • Larger sparks. As we said before, the spark should be a barely noticeable blue spark, if you can even see it at all. Larger yellow sparks, or a number of sparks can mean an issue with your wiring, and should be looked at immediately.

To prevent issues like these from arising, keep an eye on your outlets. If they get old (even five years can be reason to have them checked), consider having them replaced or serviced. As years wear on, the connections can loosen, causing arcing and large sparks. If your outlets are located near possible sources of water, have GFCIs (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) installed for added safety.

Sparking Outlet Service, Repair and Replacement with Kolb Electric

At Kolb, our primary goal is always the safety and satisfaction of our consumers. You guys are important to us, and if we can help keep you safe, you can be sure we want to do all we can! Call on our master electricians today if you have any concerns regarding a sparking outlet, or if you have any other electrical concerns!

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