Outlet Sparks: How Dangerous Are They?

Sometimes when you insert a plug into a receptacle, there are outlet sparks! A quick burst of light! A small fiery particle! A little explosion of electricity! If you’ve been using electric appliances all your life, you’ve probably seen a spark or two in your day. My question for you is: how do you react? Do you call in an electrician straightaway? Do you assume it’s just a one-time problem? Do you monitor the receptacle in the days and weeks afterward? Do you freak out? Pass out? Do you wonder if the plug and receptacle experienced love at first sight and that’s why you saw sparks? Okay forget that last idea, but what about the others?

If you’ve ever seen outlet sparks and wondered if you reacted in the right way, this is the post for you! Read on to learn just how dangerous outlets sparks really are.

Outlet Sparks

Why Do Outlets Spark?

It can be a little jarring to see an electrical outlet spark. Sometimes it’s perfectly normal, but other times it’s a symptom of a more serious problem. When you see an outlet spark, consider if any of the following are a likely culprit:

  • A short circuit. Sometimes the spark is caused by a larger problem, like a short circuit. When too much heat builds up around a receptacle due to a short circuit, the insulation can melt, the wires can become exposed, and electrons can cause sparks. This situation is very dangerous and could cause a fire.
  • Water. Water and electricity do not mix. Use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) for safety, so the outlet will be shut down when it interacts with water.
  • Old age. If your outlets are very old, they might just be loose and outdated. You should also be concerned if your appliances have very old cords and plugs. Update your wiring and appliances if you fear this might be the cause of sparks.
  • Bad repair jobs. Do not mess with your home’s electricity unless you’re an experienced electrician. Sloppy repair jobs can create sparks and lead to fires.
  • Normal electricity. Sometimes there really isn’t anything wrong! The fast, hot power of electricity can cause a brief spark when plugged in, but once the electrons flow free, it’s fine. This is similar to static electricity.

What Should You Do When an Outlet Sparks?

When an outlet sparks in your home, don’t freak out but don’t ignore it either.

If it is a brief spark that occurs infrequently, don’t worry about it. It’s probably fine.

However, if this outlet sparks every time that you plug something in, you need to call in the professionals. They should be able to identify the problem and quickly replace your outlet for an affordable price. Depending on the problem, they may need to do more than a simple outlet replacement. For example, if the outlet is very old, they might recommend that you replace all of your electrical outlets. Or if the sparks are occurring in a bathroom, they might recommend a GFCI for safety.

Outlet Sparks

If your outlet sparks frequently and you live in the Springfield, Missouri area, give Complete Electrical Solutions a call today. We would love to remedy the situation for you and answer any questions you have about electrical safety. Give us a call at 417-831-8039.

3 thoughts on “Outlet Sparks: How Dangerous Are They?

  1. This actually happened to me the other day. I hadn’t thought much of it when it happened but I’m glad to learn that it could actually be a more serious problem that caused the outlet to spark. If it happens again it sounds like the best option is to call electrical services to check things out.

  2. it happens whenever i plug something in to the outlet, so i just ignored it at first and thought it was no big deal. Then it happened again, so i decided to just not use it anymore. Do you think I should get it looked at?

  3. Thanks for explaining some of the reasons that would cause an outlet to spark. My husband and I rent an older home, so I think that the electrical fixtures may just be outdated or worn out. I appreciate the tip to call a professional electrician to come do the repairs. I will be sure to bring this up with our landlord right away!

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