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Sparking Outlets

Electrical, Information

When you plug an electrical appliance into a wall socket, you can sometimes see a small blue spark.  But is this normal?  And is it dangerous?

Most of the time, this is a normal and harmless event.  But that doesn’t mean that it can or should be ignored. It could actually be the first warning sign that leads to more dangerous problems.

What causes the blue spark that you see is the split second where the electrical plug and socket are close enough together that the electrical current literally jumps across the gap.  This is what causes the spark and it actually happens every time you plug something in. It is completely safe and normal.


There are different types of spark that can be caused when plugging an electrical device into a socket which should not be ignored.  These are the more dangerous events that can become dangerous if ignored.  They are:

Big Sparks

If the spark that you see is more than a little blue flash and is fact a big spark that is leaping out of the plug socket hole then this needs to be fixed and is anything but safe.

Yellow or White Sparks

These yellow and white coloured sparks can be more substantial and therefore dangerous than the wee blue sparks we have mentioned and should be checked by a qualified electrician.

Long Sparks

If you can see an electrical spark that lasts longer that a quick flash then this is a strong indicator that there is a problem.


If you can smell smoke or the distinct smell of burning plastic after plugging a device into a socket then you have an immediate electrical problem and should shut electrical power off to the circuit panel.

Whatever the sign is, these are the most likely issues

Short Circuiting

A short circuit can happen when the electrical outlets live wire is touching the neutral wire.  When this happens, it draws excessive current and generates a lot more heat which can melt wire covers and even cause a fire.  If you can see visible signs of scorching or melting, it may be that you have experienced a short circuit.


When you plug too many devices into a single plug outlet, there is a greater chance for sparking to occur.  Always make sure that your electrical appliances are distributed evenly over the power outlet sockets you have available.


In the UK, damp caused by leaking roofs, a burst pipe or even rising damp from the ground can generate enough moisture inside the electrical plug socket that it can spark and cause a short circuit.

Old electrical outlets and wiring

Cables and electrical installations that electrical current flows through will age. It isn’t planned obsolescence, it is simply a fact that electrical wiring, equipment and control gear deteriorate over time. And in some cases of extreme wear, it can result in electrical arcing.

Poor electrical repairs

We are Select and NICEIC registered electricians and are incredibly proud of the electrical work that we provide our customers.   However there are some electricians out there who are either not qualified or simply lack the skills to install or repair electrical equipment properly.  If you see sparking in a plug socket that has recently been installed or repaired then you should have the electrical devices tested.

Select Registered Electrical Contractor NICEIC Electrical Contractor

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If you are not sure then get it tested.  Electricity is a vital part of our day to day lives but it can be dangerous if poorly installed. Make sure that the electrical equipment and wiring in your office is safe to use.  Call us today.

Our unique combination of family continuity, in-depth business and technical knowledge and an investment in recruiting and developing the very best skillsets, means that our customers still benefit from the highest possible standards of electrical service and delivery – the hallmark of HF since its inception.

With an approach which combines traditional values with innovative thinking, we recognise that a faulty light switch requires the same level of service and professionalism as a multi-million pound design and build project.

Find out more about our electrical services by clicking the link below.

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