Electrical outlets are present in every home in America—and there are usually dozens of them in each home. With how common they are, few people (with the exception of new parents) see them and think of them as a safety hazard. But electrical outlets can sometimes become unsafe for regular use and present a true hazard to your family and your home. Here are three signs that indicate your outlets are unsafe.
Buzzing or Popping Sounds
There’s a lot of electricity coursing through your outlets, but you should never be able to hear it. If you hear a buzzing or popping sound in your outlet, whether something is plugged into the outlet or not, then something is wrong. You likely have some kind of electrical short, which can be a fire hazard. In some cases, you might plug in a device, only to hear a loud pop and have all of your power shut off. This is definitely an indicator that you need an electrician before a spark starts a fire or someone in your family is shocked simply by plugging something in.
Dark Marks on Outlet Covers
There’s a popular saying that states, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Dark marks on your outlet plate covers indicate smoking inside of the outlet, which likely means sparks are igniting and quickly extinguishing inside of your wall. While you may have been lucky enough to not experience a widespread fire just yet, you shouldn’t push your luck. Turn off power to that outlet and call an electrician to find out what the problem is. Once it’s fixed, you can clean off those ugly dark marks; or, if they don’t come off, just replace your outlet covers.
Exposed Wires around Outlet
The covers around your outlets aren’t just there to look pretty; they perform a specific, important function. Your outlet covers conceal the wiring connected to your outlets while ensuring it’s still accessible when repairs are needed. If your covers are cracked, or if your outlet is simply missing a cover altogether, you should install a new one as soon as possible.
Those exposed wires are a dangerous temptation for small kids. But even if you don’t have children in your household, exposed wires are always a risk. Dust, debris, pests, and moisture can damage the wiring and create risks of sparking when the wires are left exposed. Look for new wall outlet covers and replace any in your home that are missing, broken, or cracked.