Have you ever gone to use an electrical outlet in your home and noticed it felt a bit warm? Many homeowners fail to implement appropriate safety measures if an electrical outlet gets hot. You should never ignore a hot electrical outlet — it could be an indicator that something needs attention
Researching what it means if an electrical outlet is hot is an excellent first step in troubleshooting and fixing the problem. Read on to learn what causes electrical outlets to get hot and what steps you should take next.
What Causes Electrical Outlets to Get Hot?
Dealing with a warm electrical outlet doesn't necessarily mean that you are at risk of fire or electrical failure. However, it does mean you need to pay attention to that outlet and anything happening behind the wall.
Here are four of the most common reasons why an electrical outlet gets hot:
1. Too Many Appliances Are Plugged into the Outlet
If you notice an electrical outlet is getting hot, check how much you have plugged into that one outlet. If you have too many plugs in an outlet or power strip, you could be drawing way too much energy, leading the outlet to heat up. Unplug a few things and give the outlet some time to cool off before using it again.
2. Damaged or Loose Wires
Over time, it’s possible for the wiring in your outlet to loosen or get damaged. If either the wiring or terminals inside your outlet come loose, it can cause more heat to build up due to the electricity flowing inside. Ignoring the issue creates a high risk of more severe damage. This is a serious electrical problem that must be addressed by a professional electrician, like the experts at John C. Flood, because it shows your home’s wiring is old, broken, or improperly installed.
3. Broken Outlet
If you notice that your outlet is getting hot, give it a thorough visual inspection. If you see any areas of the outlet that are chipped or broken, they need to be repaired at once. The entire outlet may need to be replaced, and it’s important to check the full system for signs of any damage.
4. High Demand on the Circuit
While too much demand on one outlet may simply be overheating the one outlet, it’s also possible that you’re draining an excessive amount of energy from the circuit as a whole. If this is the case, you either need to lessen the demand you’re drawing from your outlets or you need to have a professional electrician rewire the circuits so you have fewer plugs on one circuit.
What to Do When an Electrical Outlet is Hot
When you encounter an electrical outlet that’s too hot, then you should unplug anything from the outlet right away. Failing to unplug things from the outlet will only lead to more overheating and it could damage whatever equipment is plugged in. Leave the outlet unplugged for at least an hour before checking to see if it’s cooled down.
If the outlet is cool, the warmth could be due to the device that was plugged in and not the outlet. This means that whatever equipment you had plugged in was drawing a lot of energy and causing the outlet to warm up. Test the outlet again by plugging in something small, like a lamp. Leave it plugged in for an hour and test the outlet. If it’s still cool, then the issue is with your appliances.
In the case where the outlet doesn’t cool down or it gets hot again even with a low-energy piece of equipment, then you likely have another issue at hand. It could be that your circuit is being overused or that the outlet has bad wiring. If the outlet plate is hot to the touch after giving it a chance to cool or when testing with a lamp, it’s important to schedule an electrical service. You could have a bad connection and be at risk of tripping a circuit.
John C. Flood is Here to Help
Is your electric outlet hot? John C. Flood's team of skilled, licensed electricians is ready to help resolve any of your home’s electrical problems. We also offer helpful maintenance plans to keep your home up to date and in shape throughout the year.
If you have any questions, give us a call at (703) 991-7738 or contact us online for electrical repair or emergency service needs.