As we use electricity daily, any electrical problem is of major concern, especially sparks. This is because all significant issues start from a spark. It would be best if you didn’t ignore it. It might be a small issue now, but it won’t take long to cause considerable problems in the future. In many instances, sparks are indicative of underlying issues. Considering sparks have led to 6% of home fires annually, it’s crucial to react to them quickly.
The real problem is that most of you don’t know what to do when there is a spark. People often panic and try ‘do it yourself techniques,’ which backfires. You might have experienced it as well and may have called an electrician immediately. But it usually takes time for professionals to arrive. Therefore it’s important to know about reliable services like the Electrician Inner West that can ensure a speedy arrival of electricians to the scene.
Mentioned below are cautionary steps that must be undertaken when you notice sparks coming out form any outlets at your home or office to mitigate the risk in time.
1. Learn to differentiate between sparks
Whenever you see sparking from electrical outlets, the first thing you should know is to understand what the cause is. At times these sparks are normal, and nothing needs to be done, but most of the time, they can be harmful. So you need to be able to differentiate between the two and then plan out the strategy. You cannot take any radical steps without knowing the underlying issue. So here is how you can identify whether a spark is a minor one or one of major concern.
- Minor sparks are caused when power is suddenly diverted to an appliance. This, in most cases, is normal. This is because electrical flow, which is running swiftly through the circuits, is interrupted abruptly. As these movements are fast, a rapid diversion caused by a heavy appliance powered to a switch can cause a break of only a few minutes. There will be a blue spark and that too of only a few seconds. If it doesn’t last or repeat, it is perfectly normal, and there is nothing to worry about. But to be safe, it is best to schedule an appointment with an electrician if you feel that the outlet is not supportive enough.
- Major sparks always have a core issue behind them and are indicators of big problems. They are yellow and orange and go on for a long time and are sometimes followed by a burning smell. If ignored, they can lead to catastrophes. In such cases, you need immediate professional help. Mostly they are caused by short circuits, which means building up of heat inside an outlet, resulting in the melting of the insulation. This causes wire exposure and increases the likelihood of an electrical fire. The major factor behind the short circuit is the plugging of too many devices in an outlet causing an overload. A major spark can also be caused by damaged or old Electrical Equipment. This is because, with time, appliances wear out, and their connections usually become loose. This again increases the overburdening of outlets, leading to a short-circuit. So if you suspect these kinds of sparks, call an electrician ASAP and follow the procedures given below.
Once you have differentiated between both the sparks and highlighted the problems, you should plan out your next step by following the guidelines. Just remember these are just precautionary steps and are no substitute for calling an electrician. Keep in mind, that no matter how minor the spark is or how easily you mitigate it, a licensed technician should immediately be called. This is because you are inexperienced and cannot rectify the issue properly. That being said, here are a few things you can do to at least control the situation before an electrician arrives:
2. Shutting off the power supply
This is very easy to do and prevents further damage from occurring no matter the cause. All you have to do is to go to the circuit breaker and drop the switch of the room that the sparks are coming from. This is simple as all the breaker panels are labeled with their respective rooms. So by turning off the switch, you are shutting down the electrical flow to that room. This means the sparks can no longer cause any damage. Now remove all the appliances from the outlet. You can do it easily as no electricity is flowing. Now you can touch without any negative consequences. Lastly, do not open the switch at any cost and wait patiently for the electrician to arrive.
3. Testing the outlet after shutting down the power
It is best to check whether the power is shut down. So to double-check after turning off the breaker, it is best to test the outlet by using a multimeter (also known as a VOM). This device measures whether any electric current flow is coming from the outlet or not. You cannot do anything further if your outlet has current. So to ascertain that there is zero current use a multimeter. Moreover, only use a multimeter if you are certain about it and comfortable in doing so. Remember that a multimeter won’t solve your problem. It is just an electronic measuring tool used for measuring current, voltage, and resistance. You still have to call in a professional to proceed and replace the outlet
4. Buying a new outlet
You won’t be able to replace the new outlet yourself but to make the work easy and quick for the electrician you can at least buy a spare one. It is always feasible to keep two to three unused outlets in your home just in case an emergency occurs. But you have to ensure that your purchased outlets have the same voltage. If you are not sure about what that is, the easiest way to go about it is to ask for an expert’s advice at the hardware store.
Don’t panic if you see sparks. It would be best if you dealt with it safely so that no harm is done until the electrician arrives. Remember, these methods can only protect you, but they cannot solve the issues. So the safest possible route is to schedule an inspection with a licensed electrician. They will be able to determine the cause of the sparking and repair the issue.