Signs of burning around an electrical plug or outlet

Updated April 17, 2017

Each year, emergency room doctors treat 4,000 individuals for electrical outlet-associated injuries. When it comes to electrical fires and the injuries that they can cause, prevention is key. Individuals need to regularly check electrical sockets and plugs for telltale signs of fire or wiring issues. Any faulty plugs (such as plugs with exposed wires) should be replaced immediately.

Discolouration of Wall Outlets

If the wall outlet appears discoloured, this is a major warning sign. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a discoloured wall outlet can be caused by "arcing, smouldering, burning happening behind your outlets, damaged or improperly installed wiring in the outlet or a problem with the receptacle itself." If you see a discoloured outlet, you should never attempt to use this outlet. Instead, find a qualified electrician and have him examine the outlet.

Tingling Sensation

If you plug up an electrical device (such as a toaster) and you then experience a tingling sensation when you touch that appliance, this sensation could be an indication of electrical trouble. Some people refer to this sensation as getting a "shock" from an appliance, consider it a warning sign and do not wait for a more serious injury. Consult a licensed electrician to investigate the problem.

Acrid Odor

Sometimes you cannot see the signs of a problem with an electrical plug or outlet; instead, you will be able to smell, feel or hear the issue. If you smell an acrid odour near an electrical plug, then it is an indication that a serious problem could be occurring. In addition, if you touch an outlet and it feels hot (due to possible overheating), this is also a warning sign of electrical trouble. Finally, the sound of sizzling or popping near an electrical socket should also be considered a cause for concern. Contact a licensed electrician to investigate the matter.

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About the Author

Based in the Deep South, Cindy Roussos has been a full-time writer since 2004. Her work has appeared in such print publications as "Chicken Soup for the Soul" and online at websites such as Roussos graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Alabama.