Three Signs Of A Malfunctioning Outlet

Posted on: 13 March 2017

A malfunctioning electrical outlet is a dangerous thing to have in your house. It can fry your electrical appliances, cause electrical shock or even cause an electrical fire. You need to watch out for signs of outlet malfunction so that you can fix it in time. Here are some of the signs to watch out for:

Outlet Feels Hot to the Touch

It is normal for an outlet to feel a bit warm, but not too warm or hot. There are several reasons an electrical outlet may feel hot to the touch. For example, an outlet heats up when too much current (than it was designed to handle) passes through it. Note that if the outlets are connected in series, where the current through an outlet also passes through other outlets, then an outlet may feel hot even if it isn't the one overloaded. An outlet may also feel hot if its contacts are loose, which increases the electrical resistance of the contacts.

Outlet Trips the Breaker Each Time It Is Used

Breakers are meant to break the circuit, by tripping, when too much current flows through a circuit. A circuit may experience too much current when an appliance connected to it is malfunctioning. Too much current may also flow through a circuit if the outlet is malfunctioning, for example, if the contacts are loose or rusted. Therefore, if the breaker trips every time you plug an appliance in it, you should try plugging in a different appliance to confirm whether it is the outlet or appliance. If the breaker still trips with a different appliance, then the problem is with the circuit.

Outlet Sparks All the Time

You shouldn't worry too much if an outlet sparks a little when you plug an appliance in it. However, your outlet is probably malfunctioning if the sparking is too much or don't stop even after the appliance is plugged in and is operational. In such a case, you are probably dealing with loose electrical connections in the outlet or something (such as water or shoddy repair) has caused a short circuit in the outlet.  

Unless you have adequate experience with electrical issues, leave your outlet diagnosis and repair in the hands of a professional electrician like Cole Electric Inc. Shoddy repairs can cause even more problems for you; for example, you may fail to tighten the contacts satisfactorily or short some wires, both of which makes the outlet dangerous to use.