Why Does my Outlet Smell Like it’s Burning?

hand on electrical outlet

If you smell a burning odor coming from an outlet in your home, it could have several different causes.  However, you do not want to simply ignore the issue.  While some causes may be harmless to your outlet and home, other causes can be more dangerous. We’ll provide useful information to help you understand why your outlet may smell like it’s burning, as well as tips on how to address the issue.  There are typically other indications that go along with the burning smell coming from your outlet, so it’s also important to take those into consideration.  Keep reading to learn more.

What to do if You Smell Burning From Your Outlet

If you notice a burning smell emanating from one of your outlets, take the appropriate precautions to ensure everyone’s safety. The first thing you should do is to switch off the outlet at the circuit breaker and unplug any devices that are attached to it. Doing so can help prevent further damage in case electrical sparks were to come out of the outlet. It’s also important to keep children and pets away from the outlet while you figure out what should be done next. Should the outlet already be smoking heavily, safety should be your top priority and you should immediately call an electrician as they are trained to handle such situations.

All in all, if you ever encounter a burning odor around an outlet, it’s critical that you take appropriate steps to ensure your safety while you diagnose what the issue is or wait for a professional to arrive.

Causes of Burning Outlet Smells

Burning outlet smells can be caused by a variety of issues. They also are often accompanied by other warning signs.  These may include outlets that shock you when you touch them, discoloration on the outlet, and a noise that comes from the outlet – often a humming or buzzing. Let’s take a look at the top causes of a burning smell coming from your outlet.

exposed wiresExposed Wiring

One common cause of a burning outlet smell is exposed wiring. Exposed wiring can become singed due to coming into contact with other metals, leading to power surges and an outlet smell. When wires are exposed, they create an environment in which the outlet is more prone to issue and therefore more likely to emit these acrid smells. The outlet may be unable to handle the amount of electricity being drawn from it. 

Improper Installation

When the wiring is improperly installed or damaged, the outlet will become more vulnerable to burning smells as well.  This is because it is more likely to spark or overheat, which is what causes the burning smell.

Damaged Wiring

Electrical wiring may also be damaged from years of use, improper use by homeowners, or from nearby construction or weather events. Electrical wiring deteriorates over time, putting greater strain on the outlet and causing noticeable damage that emits burning odors.

overloaded outletOverloaded Outlets

If multiple appliances or devices are plugged into the same outlet without being split-up among different outlets, this can create an overload in that outlet as well as sparking and eventually burning smells due to all the energy flowing through one outlet.

Something is Stuck on the Outlet

Lastly, if a foreign object has been stuck in the electrical box that too may produce a burning outlet odor as the object begins to melt or corrode due to being in contact with live electricity.  This is especially true for objects made with materials that generate more heat than electricity, such as foil wrappers.

What to do Next

Electrical outlet smells can be an indication of dangerous overheating, especially when they are accompanied by black marks, buzzing or crackling sounds. A burning outlet smell should not be taken lightly and it’s best to proactively take steps for safety. When it comes to outlet safety, there is rarely any room for guesswork. 

If you detect the smell of burning coming from your outlet, it could mean that something is seriously wrong with your electrical system. The outlet should be inspected and assessed by an electrician as soon as possible to prevent any major damage or harm to yourself or property. A qualified electrician should then inspect the outlet system to locate and address any underlying issues such as faulty wiring or electrical overloads. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Contact Coastal Home Services Today

If you smell burning coming from an outlet, it is important to take action and figure out the cause of the issue. A burning outlet smell could be caused by several factors, all of which should be addressed by a professional to prevent a fire or other hazards. If you are located on the Crystal Coast of North Carolina, Contact Coastal Home Services today.  Our team of professionals will be happy to come out and take a look at your outlets to make sure everything is working properly. We want your home to be safe, so please don’t hesitate to give us a call.

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Electrician installing electrical wires and fuse switch box.

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