Sparking House Outlets

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Old 06-08-17, 08:54 AM
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Sparking House Outlets

Good morning.

My wife was using her laptop on the island in our kitchen this morning when she looked to see that her laptop cord was turning black and the outlet sparked whenever she plugged something into it. She then started to test this on some other outlets in the house and found a few others that did the same thing. There is some black burn marks found close to the holes in which the plug gets put into.

I did some preliminary research and am not sure if this is a simple case of just needing to replace the outlets themselves or if it is a sign of a much bigger issue. Should I go through and replace the outlets or do I need to be contacting an electrician?

Your thoughts and suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance.
 
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Old 06-08-17, 08:59 AM
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Good morning,

It is possible that this problem is due to receptacles worn out or loose connections, but since it is happening throughout the house you should rule out bigger problems. A few questions:

Do you have a multimeter, and if so can you test the voltages at the troublesome receptacles?
Do you have any trouble with light fixtures flickering or especially flashing brighter?
Approximately what year was your house built and do you know if you have aluminum wiring?
 
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Old 06-08-17, 09:05 AM
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Thank you for the quick response.

I do have a multi-meter but will have to wait until I get home to test. I am a newbie when it comes to that tool so which setting should I have it on?

I have not noticed any issues with fixtures flickering or flashing brighter.

Our house was built in 2005/2006. Unfortunately, I have no idea on whether it has aluminum wiring or not.

Thank you.
 
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Old 06-08-17, 09:12 AM
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Many electronic devices, especially phone and laptop chargers, will create a spark when plugged into a receptacle and is normal. The device sparks briefly until the unit charges.

After many times of an item like this being plugged in....... the receptacle will start to become pitted and burned at the connection point causing future connections to have a slightly larger spark.

Routine replacement of older receptacles will reduce the problem but never eliminate the spark.
 
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Old 06-08-17, 09:12 AM
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On the multimeter use the next AC Voltage setting larger than 120V. Some meters might only have one AC voltage setting. Take three measurements: slot-to-slot, slot-to-ground, and other-slot-to-ground.

No problems with aluminum wiring given the age. This is probably just the builder-grade receptacles wearing out. If you replace them with better quality receptacles, make sure to use the screw terminals instead of the push-ins. Yours are probably wired with the push-ins and those simply wear out with use.
 
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