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When You See Sparks!
September 6, 2023
Your home is your safe haven and should be a space where you can relax in comfort. The last thing you expect is that sparks will start flying and a potential fire could start within your walls. At Blue Crest Electric we want everyone to feel secure and safe knowing that their home is electrically sound.
What Should I Do When I See Sparks?
Below is a list of steps you can take if or when you see sparks, smell burning, or see smoke coming from an electrical outlet or light switch.
If you see sparks coming from any of your electrical outlets, immediately turn off the power to the affected circuit breaker. This is why it is essential to have a clearly marked and labelled electrical panel. A properly labelled panel will help in locating which specific breaker to turn to the off position.
Once the breaker is turned to the off position, unplug any and all appliances and electrical devices from the damaged outlet.
Call an electrician immediately to come and diagnose this volatile electrical situation. Our Blue Crest Electric electricians are available for evening or weekend emergency calls.
Do not use the outlet or any outlets on the affected circuit until an electrician has found the cause and has corrected the problem. Turning off the correct breaker will prevent the accidental use of the faulty outlets.
If a fire suddenly starts, call 9-1-1 right away and leave your house.
Reasons Why Sparks Might Come From Your Outlet or Switches
Arcing commonly happens to the wires behind your home’s switches and outlets. When the wires become loose the electricity jumps the gap in the wire in order to make the connection. Arcing is dangerous and since it happens behind the outlet’s face plate you may not know it is occurring until symptoms start to show.
Arcing can happen more often if your home has aluminum wiring. As you can read in a past blog post, aluminum wiring is not as durable as the now code required copper wiring. Aluminum wiring is subject to rust and oxidation if exposed to oxygen. Which means that the connection can become loose, causing an electrical arc.
Something to keep in mind is that when you plug or unplug an appliance or device in an outlet there may be an initial slight spark between the outlet and the prongs. This is called an electrical arc. The reason for this, is that the electricity is jumping to make the connection between the outlet and the electrical plug. If sparks, burning, or smoke happen any time after you connect or disconnect from the outlet, then call an electrician immediately.
There are different options you can take in dealing with the aluminum wiring in your home, read here.
Damage from water can cause problems with the safe transfer of electricity from outlet to electrical equipment. As you most likely are aware, water and electricity should not mix. That is why we strongly recommend that all outdoor GFCI protected outlets have leakproof covers. Bubble covers, also known as in-use covers, will keep your outdoor outlets dry which means they will not need replacing as often.
The older your outlets are the more likely they are to arc and break down. That is why having a yearly electrical inspection will help give you peace of mind about the state of your home’s electrical. An inspection will tell you if any outlets, switches, breakers, or even your electrical panel requires replacing. If electrical plugs are loose or fall out of your outlets this is a good sign that they need replacing.
The above photos are the aftermath of a thermostat that caught on fire. Thankfully, the homeowners were home at the time of the incident. They acted quickly by turning off the circuit breaker as soon as they smelled a strange odor coming from this outlet.
At Blue Crest Electric we are more than willing to help you with any of your electrical emergencies or projects. Contact us here, with any questions or requests you may have.
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