Do you notice any buzzing, hissing or sparking sounds when a device is turned on in your home or office? If so you may have an arcing electrical outlet. Arcing or an arc fault is when a loose connection causes current to jump between the conductors. When this happens, heat is produced and may melt the insulation surrounding the wires and cause a fire. This is common in old electrical outlets and worn out extension ports.
What Causes Electrical Noises Or Arcing
Worn out contacts – Every time an electrical device is plugged in or removed from the terminal, it causes the contact points to wear out. Poor contact between the plug and terminal may be the cause of arcing.
Poor installation with loose wires or terminals – Loose connections may cause power to be poorly transferred from source to device. It may also cause arcing which turns into heat.
Old or damaged wiring – Wiring may have worn thin due to aging or damage during installation. Insulation materials generally age and degrade over time.
Defective appliance – Some electric components in the appliance may have malfunctioned. You may consider to repair it on your own or send it back to the manufacturer.
How To Replace Electrical Outlets
1. Turn off the power to the outlet at the main circuit box or breaker panel and make sure you have the basic tools for the repair job.
2. Verify the power is off by probing the terminals using a test pen or a voltage meter.
3. Unscrew the wall socket with the right screwdriver. You may have to remove the plastic caps concealing the screws.
4. Carefully draw out the receptacle with the wires still attached. Note the colours of the wires and the terminals they are attached to.
5. Unscrew the wires from their terminals. You may have to snip and re-strip any damaged wire ends. Ensure that there is just enough exposed wire to be attached to the new terminals.
6. Connect the respective wires to the terminal on the new replacement socket. Make sure the wires are well secured to the correct terminals. The terminals are marked L (Live), N (Neutral) and E (Earth). You may refer to table below. DO NOT connect to wrong terminals. This may cause a short circuit.
|Wire Colour||Connects to Terminal|
|RED/ BROWN||L or Live|
|BLACK/ BLUE||N or Neutral|
|YELLOW/ GREEN||E or Earth/ Ground|
7. Carefully insert the receptacle and screw it back in position. Test it out.
8. If you are not comfortable working with electricity or electrical wiring, please engage a qualified electrical or a professional electrical services provider.
Are All Electrical Noise A Cause For Concern?
If an outlet sparks when you plug in an appliance, it may be normal if the switch for the outlet is turned on and the appliance is also turned on. This is due to the electric appliance suddenly drawing a current from the terminal. However there should be no sparking sound once the plug is snug in the outlet. If there is, you may have an arc fault. To be safe, always make sure both switches are off when inserting and removing the plug.
It is estimated that more than half of electrical fires are caused by arc faults. Therefore it is important to quickly replace any old outlets that have any indication of wear or show signs of arcing. For the safety of your family, regular checks and maintenance need to be carried out.
If you suspect your electrical outlet needs replacing, but do not have the required tools to fix the problem, feel free to contact us – our experienced and reliable electricians will get the job done for you in a jiffy!