As often as you use electricity during an average day in Cumming, it can be easy to forget that electricity can be quite dangerous. This is rarely more evident than when sparks start shooting out from an electrical device that was operating normally only moments before. Electrical sparks can happen for a variety of reasons. When they happen, it’s important to be prepared to respond so that you don’t put yourself or others in danger. To help prepare you for this potential emergency, here are a few tips from your neighbors at Arc Angel Electric.

Turn the Appliance Off

When you first notice sparks, your first step should be to turn off the appliance. If a certain appliance has multiple power switches, use the one that is highest up the circuit to ensure no electricity is flowing into the appliance. It’s important to take a quick assessment of the situation before attempting to turn off the appliance. That’s because, depending on the nature of the problem, the appliance itself may become electrically charged, meaning that touching the appliance could cause electrocution. If you can safely and quickly access the power switch, turn it off so that you can proceed with other steps.

Stop the Flow of Electricity

The best way to prevent further sparking when an appliance sparks is to interrupt the flow of electricity at the circuit breaker. If there is another person nearby, have them either monitor the appliance or run to turn off the circuit breaker. Even if you’re able to turn off the appliance with a power switch, you’ll still want to turn off the circuit involved in the sparking in case a problem in the electrical wiring is what is causing the sparking. To ensure you can quickly select the correct circuit during an emergency, Arc Angel Electric recommends that you make sure to label the circuits in your breaker box clearly and accurately.

Unplug the Appliance

After you completely stop the flow of electricity to the appliance using the circuit breaker, it’s a good idea to unplug the appliance from the affected outlet. This will ensure that any electricity in the appliance has a chance to discharge so that you can take a closer look at the appliance to try and determine the cause of the sparking. Additionally, if an electrical fire is trying to start, unplugging the appliance will remove the fire’s path out of the outlet, significantly reducing the chance that the fire will spread.

Respond to Other Problems

Depending on the cause of the electrical sparking, you may have other problems you need to deal with immediately. An electrical fire is one dangerous situation you might encounter. To prevent the fire from spreading, make sure to utilize a fire extinguisher that’s rated for electrical fires to put out the fire. If you smell a burning smell, especially after you turn off the power to the outlet, you’ll want to have your fire extinguisher ready, even if you don’t see any flames. You might also notice the smell of melting plastic. This usually indicates that there is heat building in the outlet, and you need to take further action to avoid major problems.

Inspect the Appliance

Once you’re sure the situation is stable and safe, Arc Angel Electric recommends taking a closer look at the appliance. Assuming the appliance is unplugged, you can partially disassemble the appliance to look for any signs of trouble. A common problem you’ll notice in many electrical appliances is discoloration on the electrical wires in the appliance. You may also notice that the wires are frayed or cracked. Any of these conditions typically indicate that the wires are under excess stress and need to be re-routed or replaced. Depending on the appliance, this may be a repair that is best left to a qualified professional.

Check for Other Signs of Damage

After a sparking incident, Arc Angel Electric recommends that you always remove the affected outlet to check for hidden damage. After using a voltmeter to verify that the outlet is de-energized, you can take off the outlet cover using a screwdriver. Shine a flashlight into the junction box and look for any signs of fire damage or melted plastic. If you don’t see any damage on visible components but still smell strange smells, it’s best to call Arc Angel Electric so that a qualified electrician can inspect hard-to-reach wires to see what might be causing the problem.

Determine the Cause

Assuming there are no signs of visible damage that help make the cause of the sparking more obvious, you’ll need to do some detective work to figure out what caused this frightening situation. First, look at the overall load on the affected circuit. If you have too many electrical devices plugged into the same circuit, an appliance can spark when that appliance pushes the circuit over its limit. You should also check for moisture on the appliance’s cord and around the outlet. Since water can conduct electricity, wet surfaces around electrical outlets can cause an electrical arc as the electricity tries to find the path of least resistance. Short circuits, obsolete outlets, and improper electrical installations are other potential causes of sparking appliances.

Address the Cause

In many cases, a condition that causes sparking will cause the circuit breaker to trip before you have a chance to do it manually. If that occurs, Arc Angel Electric encourages you not to be tempted to simply reset the circuit and act as if nothing happened. Ignoring an electrical problem will not make it go away and will often cause it to get worse. Take the time to fix what’s broken, either yourself or with the help of a professional so that you can be confident in the safety of your home’s electrical system. A tripped circuit, electrical sparking, or other unusual occurrences are all signs of problems that you need to take care of before you continue using that particular appliance.

Normal Electrical Sparking

Although some types of electrical sparking are certainly a cause for concern, other types of electrical sparking are completely normal. Specifically, if you notice a blue-colored spark when you’re unplugging or plugging in an electrical cord, you have no cause for concern. Typically, a blue spark occurs when the electricity that’s flowing through the outlet jumps to the metal prongs on the electrical cord when the cord gets close to the outlet. This current jump occurs most often when the appliance’s circuit is already open and ready to draw power. As long as the sparks are blue, you can save your call to Arc Angel Electric for another day.

Working Hard to Keep You Safe

At Arc Angel Electric, we understand how dangerous electricity can be when it’s not handled properly. That’s why we go the extra mile to help our customers safely achieve their home electrical goals. Whether you need us to install a new lighting fixture, electrical panel, or generator, or you need us to repair old wiring or outlets, we’ve got you covered. With an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, you can rest assured that we’ll address your concerns completely and accurately. To learn more about safe practices for dealing with electricity, contact us at Arc Angel Electric today.

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