Why would a wall outlet make a buzzing sound?

We rely on electricity for powering most things these days, but although all of us use it, few of us have much knowledge of what goes on behind the plastic socket cover. When something goes wrong most of us lack the confidence to do anything about it ourselves. Electricity is dangerous stuff, so you should take precautions and know what you’re doing before attempting a home repair. Knowing what the problem is is the first step. A buzzing electrical socket is a problem with your connections that needs immediate attention.


The electrical connections in your socket can become loose or corroded over time. If your house is old and your sockets haven’t been replaced in some time they may have become corroded and the poor electrical connection results in buzzing when the current jumps across the gap in a phenomenon known as “arcing.” It could either be the connectors that grab the prongs of the plug that are loose, or the wires that connect the socket to the main wiring in your house.


As well as becoming corroded and loose, connections can get dirty too. If you have had workmen in your home sawing, sanding or doing any other kind of messy work, some dirt may have made its way into the socket and be affecting the quality of the electrical connections. It’s possible that a quick suck with the vacuum cleaner could dislodge this, but chances are you may have to replace the socket.


If the wall containing the socket is suffering from damp, moisture may have made its way into the socket. When the electricity hits this it can cause arcing across the terminals and make a buzzing sound. Check your walls for damp. If you find any you should avoid using any sockets on the wall until you have fixed the problem. The sockets should then be replaced.

Replacing a socket

Buzzing means that the connections may also be sparking, which is a big problem. More than 20,000 house fires are caused each year in the UK by faulty electrics, so the best idea is either to call a professional or replace the socket yourself. To do this you should turn off the power to the room you’re in, or the entire house if you’re not sure. Check the socket is not still live by using a voltmeter and then unscrew the screws on the outside of the socket and then those connecting the wires to it. Connect the new socket in the same way and turn the electricity back on.

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About the Author

Robert Macintosh is a full-time journalist based in Northern Ireland. He has accumulated eight years’ experience since 2005, writing for magazines, newspapers and websites in various countries. Macintosh has specialised in politics and entertainment. He has an honours degree in social anthropology, an NVQ level 4 in newspaper journalism and an AS Level in photography.