Have you noticed a slight spark when plugging in an appliance? A little blue zip of electricity may appear when you plug in that hairdryer or blender. If you’re not technology-savvy, this spark may frighten you. But what causes sparking outlets, and are they dangerous? Read on to learn the signs of dangerous sparking and what you can do to keep your outlets safe.
How Outlets Work
Before you can understand sparking outlets, you need to understand outlets. An outlet doles out electricity allotted to your home in measured quantities per circuit. In America, our outlets run a current of about 115 to 240 volts. Technically, your outlets always spark when you plug in an appliance. There is a spark in the split second in which the connection between the electricity and plug is established. However, you usually don’t see it, or the visible spark doesn’t persist.
Are Sparking Outlets Dangerous?
Seeing an outlet spark one time is not necessarily a cause for concern. However, there are a few instances in which a sparking outlet is dangerous:
- The spark persists. If the spark lasts longer than that initial moment of contact, shut off your electricity at the panel and then unplug the appliance. Next, call a professional. A persistent spark means there is long-term damage to your outlet wiring.
- You smell burning, smoke, or “ozone.” If any of these smells follow a spark, it often indicates that a wire has melted and wires that shouldn’t be making contact are doing so.
- Larger sparks. The spark should typically be a barely noticeable blue spark, if visible. If you spot a more powerful yellow spark or a variety of sparks, this can indicate an issue with your wiring and should be investigated immediately.
Always keep an eye on your outlets so you can notice these issues right away. As years add wear and tear to your outlet, connections can loosen and cause sparking. If your outlets are located near possible water sources, have Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) installed for safety.
Sparking outlets don’t always indicate a problem. However, if you notice extra extended sparking or an additional smell, you should not hesitate to call your Maryland electrician to service your outlets and protect your home.
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