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Are Electrical Sparks Dangerous?

Ever plugged an electrical appliance wiring into a power socket and witness a spark light up within? Did you get worried that you had just done something wrong or put yourself in danger? In this article, we aim to explain what the electrical spark is and in what cases could it become dangerous to users.

To start, the small blue spark is a routine event in which electrons start to travel into the appliance’s power cord. In other words, it is not inherently dangerous.  Rather, electricity constantly flows through the circuits of your household at a very fast rate, flowing within the circuit and back to the main power grid. When you plug in an electrical appliance, the machine essentially diverts some of the electricity in the circuit to your machine. Any spark that you may have seen is on the ‘hot side’ of the power outlet caused by the appliance’s sudden draw of amperage. Subsequently, once the electrons start to flow through, the spark dissipates, thus not endangering the user.

However, over time, due to wear and tear, the relationship between the power socket and the wires becomes problematic. Typically, part of the electrical energy gets converted to heat when you plug your appliances in. This heat causes the insulation around wires to slowly melt away thus exposing the electrical wire. When exposed enough, contact between the electrical wire and the outlet allows electrons to jump across the gap, thus forming a spark. Since electrons now flow more freely, with less resistance, current is amplified leading to the possibility of overheating within the circuit.

When current is higher than the level that wires in your household are capable of handling, fuses within circuit breakers are meant to blow, thus switching off the circuit. However, if your circuit breakers fail to shut down the overflowing current, the entire circuit could overheat and cause an electrical fire outbreak. At this point, smoke may be seen exiting from the circuit.

Factors that increase the risk of electrical overload includes age, short circuits and water. As mentioned before, wear and tear over time leads to reduced electrical resistance and thus an increased risk of current overload. Short circuits are often formed when multiple appliances are plugged into a single power socket via a multi-plug extension. Meanwhile, water is a conductor of electricity and thus allows for electricity to take a much lesser path of resistance, leading to an overload.

If you encounter smoke or large sparks coming from your outlet, do not attempt to re-plug in your appliances. Rather, contact an emergency electrician Singapore contractor. A full diagnosis of your circuit’s condition must be conducted to identify areas of risk while professional expertise is required to calculate and rectify the current flow in your circuit.


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