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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.

Home Electrical Wiring Video

How to Wire a GFCI Outlet
without a Ground Wire

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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

More about the Dryer Outlet and Electrical Circuit
How to Install Electrical Outlets
Outlet Wiring

Wiring Electrical Outlets

Fully Explained Photos and Wiring Diagrams for Wiring Electrical Outlets with Code Requirements for most new or remodel projects.

Home Circuit Breakers
How to Wire a Dryer and Cord
Wiring a Dryer
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.

For more information about Electrical Safety
Electrical Safety
Electrical Safety
Home Electrical Safety
A new approach to keep kids and electricity apart with hopes to prevent children from being injured by electricity.

The following may also be helpful for you:

Dave's Guide to Home Electrical Wiring:

» You Can Avoid Costly Mistakes! «

Here's How to Do It:
Wire It Right with the help of my Illustrated Wiring Book

Great for any Home Wiring Project.
  electrical wiring  

Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handy Women, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electric Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring Light Switches
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
How to Troubleshoot and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
NEC Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
with my Online Video Course:
Basic Home Electrical Wiring by Example

Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

Electrical Tips to Help You Wire it Right

The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!

The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.

The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!

The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.

Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!

The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..

The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.

More articles about Outlets, Troubleshooting and Home Electrical Wiring:
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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,