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Loose Outlet Cover Plates Can Cause Sparks

Is it safe to turn on a circuit breaker after I noticed sparks? How to Prevent Sparks from Electric Outlet Covers, Loose Metal Cover Plates Can Cause Sparks.

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Prevent Sparks By Securing Outlet Cover Plates
Electrical Question: Is it safe to turn on a circuit breaker after I noticed sparks?

This electrical repair question came from: Debra, a Homeowner from Flint, Texas.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical troubleshooting and repair question Debra.

How to Prevent Sparks from Electric Outlet Covers

Application: Installing an Electric Outlet Cover.
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate – Best performed by a Licensed Electrician.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience and ability to work with tools.
Precaution: Identify the outlet circuit, turn it OFF and  Tag it with a Note before working with outlet wiring.

Loose Metal Cover Plates Can Cause Sparks

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See an electric dryer installation with a typical 220 Volt electric power cord wiring system. You may find yourself with either a 3-wire or 4-wire electric dryer, or a 3-wire or 4-wire outlet. Lets look a how the electric dryer is wired and what to do if your cord does not match the plug.

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Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
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120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

6 Responses to “Loose Outlet Cover Plates Can Cause Sparks”
  1. bobbi jo says:

    What if there is no faceplate on the plug for the dryer, can it cause damage to my dryer or shock me when I plug it in?

  2. Dave Rongey says:

    Bobbi Jo
    If a cover plate is in place it will surely prevent electric shock or possible damage to the dryer and circuit.
    A cover plate may be purchased from most hardware stores.

  3. nicola jones says:

    The cover plate on my outlet is loose and made a popping sound when I pulled out a plug. Can it start a fire if there is nothing plugged in until I can repair it?

  4. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Nicola,
    It is important to make sure the cover plate is in place and firmly secured. From what you have described, the popping of the plug being removed will not start a fire. If the cover plate is metal then the popping sound may have been caused when the prongs of the plug shorted across with the metal cover plate. A direct short such as this can cause the circuit breaker to trip off, therefore the circuit breaker would need to be located in the panel, and reset to restore the power to the circuit.
    I hope this helps,

  5. Wayne says:

    I’m replacing plastic outlet covers with metal covers. For some reason, I’m getting an electric arch with the metal plates. What do I need to do to prevent this, other than staying with the plastic covers?

  6. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Wayne, Great Question.
    NOTE: From what you have described, this condition could be a potential shock hazard, therefore the circuit should be turned off until the fault has been identified and repaired by a Qualified Electrician.
    The circuit should be checked to make sure the polarity is correct and the circuit is wired correctly.
    If the circuit is found to be correct then the circuit should be turned off and the wiring should be inspected at each receptacle outlet. A visual inspection should look for outlet side terminals that may be making contact with the outlet box or portions of the wiring that may have exposed bare wire that is making contact with the outlet box or the outlet mounting bracket.
    Be Safe,