Signs of Burning Around an Electrical Plug or Outlet

Cindy Roussos

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 outlets and plugs for tell-tale signs of fire or wiring issues.

Always make certain to visually inspect wall outlets before use.

Any faulty plugs (such as plugs with exposed wires) should be replaced immediately.

Discoloration of Wall Outlets

Take note of warning signs around electrical outlets and prevent fires.

If the wall outlet appears discolored, this is a major warning sign. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a discolored wall outlet can be caused by "arcing, smoldering, burning happening behind your outlets, damaged or improperly installed wiring in the outlet or a problem with the receptacle itself." If you see a discolored 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 odor 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 over-heating), this is also a warning sign of electrical trouble. Finally, the sound of sizzling or popping near an electrical outlet should also be considered a cause for concern. Contact a licensed electrician to investigate the matter.