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How To Safely Handle A Smoking Electrical Outlet

Have you glanced over and seen smoke coming out of an outlet? If you answered yes, you need to understand that this is a very serious or even life-threatening event. That smoke means that there is a small fire inside the wall or floor of your home. And your first concern needs to be the safety of your family. Make sure everyone is prepared to evacuate your home if the situation gets any worse.

Fast Action Is Essential

Once you have made sure everyone is ready to walk out the door if the fire grows, you can take action to keep this issue as small and controlled as possible. If you just plugged something into the smoking outlet, quickly turn off that circuit at the electrical panel. This is only one reason to have each breaker clearly labeled. Then return to the outlet and unplug the device.

Carefully place your hand on the wall near the outlet. If the wall is hot or the smoke continues to billow out of the outlet, evacuate your home and call 911 to report an electrical fire. Remaining outside your house at a safe distance is always recommended. However, if you know that the fire department will require extended time to respond to your call, you can use an appropriate fire extinguisher to avoid a larger fire. Only a POWDER-BASED or CO2 extinguisher should be used on an electrical fire. NEVER use water to attempt to put out electrical fires. The result could be electrocution.

The Best Case Scenario

After turning off the breaker and unplugging and device in the outlet, you discover that the wall is not warm, you are very fortunate. But you still have some work to do. Now it is time to determine why the outlet was smoking and how to correct the issue. It is best if this is the point when you call (813) 359-1944 for emergency electrical service from the licensed electricians at Mr. Electric. And never turn the circuit back on until it has been evaluated and repaired.

Common Causes Of A Smoking Electrical Outlet

It is imperative that you determine why your outlet was malfunctioning and have the problem fix before it creates a much larger fire. The most common causes of a smoking outlet include:

  • Wiring Issues: Loose wires, damaged connections, and faulty ground wiring can result in an electrical arc, smoke, and a fire. When there is even a small fire inside a wall, the smoke often escapes through the electrical outlets. If smoke is coming from an outlet that is not in use, the problem is typically deeper in the wall. It needs immediate attention from a professional electrician.
  • Dirt Or Debris In The Outlet: Dust and dirt allow the electricity to arc across the two wires and create heat that could start a fire. Cleaning outlets regularly is the best way to avoid this potential hazard. Never use any liquid cleaner on an electrical outlet. With the circuit off, remove the plate cover and vacuum out the outlet’s box and surface.
  • Overloaded Outlet: Overloads are often the cause of excessive heat and smoke from an outlet. Power strips add convenience but also make it very easy to exceed an outlet’s capability. Older homes often have few outlets and small circuits. A licensed electrician can provide safe solutions rather than excessive use of power strips. 

If you see smoke coming from an outlet, you have a severe problem. First, get your family to safety and call 911. Then call (813) 359-1944, and know that professional electrical help is on the way to fix the problem.

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