Is My Electrical Outlet Really Smoking?

It can be hard to believe your eyes when you glance at a wall in your Eugene home and see smoke coming from an electrical outlet. Most people’s first reaction is to rub their eyes and walk nearer to look at the outlet and the hopefully mistaken image. But when they realize that smoke is coming from the outlet, panic is the typical reaction. However, this is when it becomes essential for you to remain calm and clear-headed.

First, evacuate everyone from the house. Smoke is a very reliable indication that there is a fire inside the wall of your home. And though you might think it is small, it could become massive at any moment. If you can quickly and easily access the electrical panel while getting everyone out of the house, turn off the breaker that provides power to that part of the house. This is just one reason it is crucial to have all of the breakers in the electrical panel clearly labeled.

Call 911 as soon as you are away from the house, and everyone is safe. If you live in a remote area, you can use a powder-based or CO2 fire extinguisher to attempt to control and put out the fire. But never through water on an electrical fire. There is a very good possibility that you will be electrocuted.

What Caused The Smoking Outlet?

The only way to have a good idea of the cause of a smoking electrical outlet is to call a licensed electrician after everyone is safely out of the house and the fire department is on the way. At Excel Electric, we offer 24/7 emergency service when you call us at (541) 234-8864. Once the house is deemed safe by emergency responders, our expert will examine the damage to the outlet and the electrical wiring to try to determine the cause of the fire. Common reasons that an electrical outlet begins to smoke include:

  • Bad Wiring – Damaged wire connections or a bad ground wire can cause smoke emanating from an electrical outlet. These issues create an arc that is basically starting a small fire inside the walls of your home. What is essential to remember is that there are very few openings in the walls of a house, so the fire could be located a significant distance from where you see the smoke. So it is imperative that the entire house be evacuated for everyone’s safety.
  • Dirty Outlets – When dust and dirt collect in an outlet, the debris can cause a short that allows the electricity to cross the positive and negative poles. When that occurs, there is a large amount of heat created that can result in a fire. To prevent these types of fires, turn off the circuit breaker to a set of outlets, then remove each faceplate and vacuum the dust from the outlet and electrical box.
  • Overloaded Outlets – When you have too many devices plugged into a single outlet, for example, with a power strip, it can overload the wiring. Ideally, the breaker will sense the overload and trip before any damage occurs or excessive heat is created. But if the breaker is old or worn, it could fail to trip, and the result is a fire in the overheated electrical outlet and wiring. You can prevent outlet overloads by limiting each outlet to two items at a time. In addition, have breakers regularly tested and inspected to ensure that they are protecting the wiring and electric devices in your home.

When you need a pro to repair a smoking outlet, call the licensed electricians at Excel Electric 24/7 at (541) 234-8864 for a fully warrantied repair.