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Understanding How to Resolve Sparking Outlet Problems

If you have recently started noticing sparks coming from your home outlets, then this may be an issue that needs to be addressed by a residential electrician. However, the problem also may be one that can be fixed fairly easily by you if you have some DIY skills. Keep reading to learn about what you need to do to resolve the issue.

Identify Ordinary Sparks

Some outlet sparking is normal, especially if you have not used an outlet in some time. If this is the case, then you will notice a spark as soon as you plug in a light, appliance, computer, or other object. In this case, the spark is one that develops due to the fast moving electricity that surges through the outlet and into the plug.

Basically, the electricity moves faster than your hand and a spark forms between the outlet and the metal plug. This spark is not very strong and it is also not dangerous. It is similar to the release of electrical energy that you may see when static builds and discharges. 

Just like static electricity, the spark may be more pronounced if it is dry in your home. Dry air allows an electrical charge to build up and the resulting discharge is larger than normal. If the sparking issue is worrisome to you, then consider adding a humidifier to your home to help moisten the air. If the sparks stop when you add the humidifier, then the issue was likely a normal and common one that does not need to be addressed further.

Consider Short Circuits

In some cases, sparks are the result of an outlet that has a short circuit. A short circuit is when electrical current moves outside of its intended path. Intended paths are closed ones that help to keep or retain the electrical current in a controlled and safe environment.

Under normal circumstances, the electricity enters the home through the main power line and then through the circuit breaker panel. The current branches off and moves through each of the connected wires attached to the breakers. The electricity then reaches each outlet where electricity flows through the plug and into the light or appliance. 

All wires are covered with insulation to keep the current controlled and moving through the intended path. However, if the insulation breaks, then electricity will discharge out of the wire and into the air. Also, if the bare wire butts up against a metal part of the outlet, a screw, or another piece of metal in the region, then the metal will conduct the electrical flow. The short circuit issue can cause a spark to form. 

Short circuit sparks are larger and more serious than normal outlet discharge ones. They can cause fires and they also can create an electrocution issue. The most common cause of a short circuit is the general wear and tear or aging of the wires or other components that attach to the outlet. You can turn off your electricity and investigate the wiring attached to the outlet. Look for any signs of missing insulation or rust around the wires. If you see any issues, then you can replace the wiring. If you do this, just make sure to use wire nuts or screw on wire attachments wherever new wiring is spliced into place. 

In some cases, you may see some water on the outlet or near the electrical wiring. This is a serious issue that is likely causing the short problem. However, you will need to contact a professional electrician who can assess the water damage. All outlets, wires, and other electrical components that have come into direct contact with water will need to be replaced. Also, the leak or water damage issue will need to be resolved, so you may need to hire a general contractor or roof repair expert as well. 

To learn more or receive further assistance, contact companies like Excel Electric Inc.