What Are the Causes of a Melted Electrical Outlet?
Found a melted or scorched electrical outlet? Be glad — it could have been a lot worse. Outlets burn and melt due to internal sparking or overheated wires. Left unfixed, you could end up with a house fire, broken appliance, or severe injury.
Many homeowners can confidently replace an electrical outlet as a DIY project, but in this case you may have wiring damage that requires professional repair. Get in touch with us about replacing and testing your electrical outlets to make sure power flows smoothly.
Sparks Are Flying
When all the parts are tight and in good condition, power flows normally through the electrical outlet. If a metal part becomes loose or damaged, the power jumps around in sparks. This is called arcing.
The most common example: the screw that holds the wire onto the terminal might be loose. When power flows through that wire, some of the energy shoots a spark toward the metal receptacle box or another metal part.
Arcing can cause a fire, but it more often overheats the electrical outlet. Plastic cannot withstand the heat, and begins to melt. You may notice black or brown burn marks before the plastic actually melts.
Wiring problems can also cause a melted electrical outlet. Whenever there’s more power than the wires can handle, overheating happens. Either the wires were not the correct size to begin with, or you have an electrical system problem sending excess power to the receptacle.
If you have performed some DIY repairs on the electrical outlet or perhaps the previous homeowner might have done something amateurish, it’s best to bring in a professional electrician to make sure the wiring is safe — especially after verifying that the terminals are tightly screwed on and everything looks good otherwise.
Don’t Ignore Smaller Problems
It’s hard to ignore sparks and melting plastic, but many people ignore problems like a loose electrical outlet, flickering lights, and frequently tripping breakers. Remember: breakers trip because something is wrong. And healthy outlets always work reliably. Take these issues as warning signs of a bigger problem!
If one electrical outlet melts, check the other outlets in the room for damage. You may have a problem beyond the one outlet, especially if faulty wiring is to blame.
What Should I Do About a Melted Electrical Outlet?
You’ll need to replace the damaged electrical outlet or hire an electrician to do so. First, turn off power to the outlet by flipping the breaker for the area. Then disconnect the cover plate and loosen the receptacle to take a closer look.
If screws or other metal parts feel loose, a straightforward electrical outlet replacement will probably do. If the wires appear frayed or damaged, you need an electrician to make repairs. If you replace the outlet without correcting wiring problems, you’ll likely end up with another ruined outlet and perhaps much worse!
For help repairing a damaged electrical outlet and making sure you’re safe,