Sparking electrical outlets or electrical cords can be scary. Electricity is never something to be taken lightly, and you should always know the potential dangers of a faulty cord or outlet. One of the most obvious signs that something is wrong with an electrical connection is that you see it sparking, and if you don't take action quickly, it could cause a house fire or electrical shock.
If you notice sparks coming from your electrical cord, you must cut the current to the outlet using the breaker box. It is then safe to unplug the electrical cord and determine what the issue is.
Stop the Sparks Immediately
If you have plugged in an electrical cord and you see the cord or the outlet you plugged it into throwing off sparks, the first thing you need to do is cut the current. Immediately locate your breaker box and turn off the current that is directed to that outlet. You may have no choice but to cut all electricity from the room, depending on how your breaker box and the outlets in that room have been wired. Once there is no more electrical current to that room, go back and unplug the electrical cord you were using.
Normal and Abnormal Sparks
Before throwing out the cord or appliance you may have been using, you need to determine whether the spark was normal or not. If the electrical current is turned on for the outlet you are using, there will always be a spark that occurs when plugging in a device, such as an appliance or extension cord.
A normal spark is blue in color. These sparks always occur, although may not witness them all the time. If you see sparks of any other color, such as yellow or white, then it may be a dangerous connection that should be examined further.
Why Does an Electrical Cord Spark?
An electrical cord can produce a spark for various reasons. You could be overloading that outlet with electrical current, causing the outlet to spark and creating a hazardous situation. In some cases, this will cause the circuit to jump, leading to issues in your breaker box. You may also want to think back on the age of the electrical outlet because its age could make it faulty, meaning it would be safer to replace it with a new one. You may also want to replace the outlet if you remember it has come in contact with water. Water and electricity never mix, so the best solution is to contact an electrician to have the outlet changed.
If the spark didn't come from the outlet when the cord was plugged in but from the cord itself, you should look at the cord more closely. An electrical cord can appear fine but actually be damaged from being improperly handled. A good example of this is twisting your cord in various directions to make storing it easier. By winding it over and over again, you may cause the wiring inside to sever, causing heat within the cord when plugged in, which is very dangerous.
The wires may also be at risk of breaking inside if you find yourself closing a drawer or door on the wire frequently. Your cord could also spark if the prongs have become loose or if the protective coating around the wires has become damaged. In all these instances, if the electrical cord was causing the sparks, the best thing to do is either replace the cord if possible or have it rewired by a professional electrician.
Taking on the role of the household's 'handyman' was a natural path for me. Watching my dad as a child be able to fix anything made me want to be just like him. Now with a toolbox of my own I tackle any task that my home throws my way. If the task can be accomplished with my own two hands, I have never been the type to hire someone else to do it. There is nothing more satisfying than staring at your completed project while you brush some dirt from your hands.