What causes an outlet to spark?

Why Do Outlets Spark?

Ever wonder “why do outlets spark?” You plug something in, you catch a quick flash, and quickly ignore that it happened. Truth is, most people write it off as a normal occurrence, but it could be telling you something more about your electrical system. If you’re seeing sparks, there could be more than one factor at play. There are many scenarios and causes that can lead to a startling flash.

But why do outlets spark?

 Outdated Wiring:

An outlet could be sparking because of its age. If your wiring is outdated and you haven’t had an electrician out in a while, old wiring may be the culprit—and not taking care of it could have serious repercussions. If your wiring is outdated or not up to code, you know who to call.

A Short Circuit:

A spark from your outlet could be a result of a larger issue. A short circuit occurs when hot wires fall out of place and come in contact with one another. If a short circuit is the result of your spark, your faulty wiring will need replacement.

Water Damage:

Water and electricity are age-old enemies. They just don’t mix, and the two don’t seem likely to make up any time soon. If your outlet does come into contact with water, here’s what to do.

  1. Turn off the GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) Outlet: Most GFCI outlets have a red and black button to reset and turn off the outlet. Switch the outlet to off and carefully dry with a towel.
  1. Turn off the breaker box: If a wet outlet does not have a GFCI, you will have to turn to your breaker board. Shutting off the breaker corresponding to the wet outlet will cut the power, making it safe to dry.

Plain Old Electricity:

The cause of a spark can arise for the same reason your mother always told you not to play with electrical outlets as a kid. If you’re still wondering, “why do outlets spark?” after troubleshooting with the tips above, the solution may be more simple. There’s a constant stream of electricity waiting to power what comes into contact with an outlet. Sometimes, this can generate a spark and is generally nothing to be concerned about. However, you should always be cautious when dealing with a sparking outlet. Danger could be waiting in the wall.


Want more electrical tips? Browse our blog for more on safety, hazards, and everything electrical for your home or business, and contact us if your sparking outlet persists. We service both residential, business, and commercial electrical needs in the Southern New Jersey area.