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Why Do Outlets Spark?

Nov 02, 2020

A quick burst of light coming from an electrical outlet from a household appliance.


You’ve seen it before, maybe even a lot: a quick burst of light at your electrical outlet when you plug in or unplug an appliance or other household item. Sparks like this can actually be quite common and it’s perfectly normal for electrical outlets to spark every once in a while. Generally, a small spark like this is nothing to worry about.


However, there are some instances of electrical sparks in outlets that are indicators of a potentially serious issue. Knowing what causes outlet sparks can not only reassure you that you’re safe in your own home when it happens from time to time, but it can also alert you to potential dangers should they ever occur. 


Let’s clarify how you can keep safe despite your sparking outlet.

Why Do Outlets Spark?

Homes all across America run on electricity, and while this is incredibly convenient, it means fast, hot electricity is running all throughout your home. 


Your home’s electric current is threaded to various circuits to service different rooms, and then brought back to the main grid without any interruptions. Occasionally when you plug something into a wall outlet, the fast, uninterrupted electricity transfers from the outlet to the item being plugged in. This rapid electric draw can result in a brief spark.


In most cases, small sparks like these aren’t anything to be concerned about. However, there are a few reasons a sparking outlet could be a cause for concern. 

4 Concerning Reasons Outlets Spark

1. Short Circuits

A short circuit occurs when too much heat has built up around a receptacle. When there has been this excessive build up of heat in an electric outlet, the insulation covering the wires in the outlet can melt away, exposing the wires. Since electricity is still running through these wires, the exposed wires can cause sparks or even a fire. The spark can also occur when an additional electrical connection is made, such as plugging in a phone charger or lamp, causing potentially more serious issues. If you notice that your outlet seems to be short circuiting, you should contact a professional electrician to address the issue at once.

2. Water Exposure or Damage

This is something you probably learned as a child: water and electricity are not friends and don’t behave well when mixed. If water comes into direct contact with an outlet, it can cause a lot of sparking and even more serious, potentially dangerous electrical problems. Water exposure can cause an outlet to short out, stop working properly, or start a house fire. That’s why it’s important to install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) outlets anywhere near or around water sources, such as in the kitchen, bathrooms, laundry room, and garage.

3. Age

Old outlets are known to present a variety of issues in a home. As outlets age, internal connections may come loose which increases the likelihood of a short circuit and a fire-causing spark. Updating the wiring and outlets in your home will not only help them operate better, but it will prevent the likelihood of a sparking outlet, electrical issues, and fires caused by sparks.

4. Negligent Repairs

If your outlets or electrical system has ever been repaired or tampered with by someone who doesn’t have the skills and experience of a professional electrician, then it’s doubtful the job was done well. Never attempt to perform repairs on your electrical system yourself since you could end up doing far more harm than good to your electrical system, not to mention you could be putting yourself and any other residents of your home in danger. 


Do yourself a huge favor by working with a certified electrician to handle all your electrical outlet repairs. Not only will they get the job done right and efficiently, but you and your family won’t be in danger of electric shocks and you can get any of your electrical questions answered on the spot.

Leave Your Electrical Work to the Professionals

Attempting to do electrical work on your own is always discouraged. Leave it to the 5-Star CroppMetcalfe professionals who have years of experience and training in electrical home repairs.


Check out our full list of service areas and for more information about CroppMetcalfe’s electrical services, call 888-251-9465 or contact us online to schedule an appointment for your sparking outlet today.



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