# The Cause of an Electric Spark

 What Causes an Electric Spark: An Explanation of Electrical Sparks and Electric Current Flow.

Why an Electrical Spark May Be Seen or Heard
Electrical Question: What causes an electrical spark when the power was turned off?

• The power had been turned off so we could change an electrical outlet from an old fashioned outlet to a modern one.
• There was a big spark when the electricity was turned on the first time after the work was completed.
• After that everything was OK.

Thank you.

This electrical wiring question came from Eva, in Toronto, Canada.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Eva.

## What Causes an Electric Spark?

### Electrical Sparks and Electric Current Flow Explained

• The Flow of Electricity and Electrical Current Load
• Electricity is generated at various power stations and then sent through transmission lines which provide electrical power to our homes and businesses.
• Our home electrical panel supplies power through electrical wiring which begins the path which allowsÂ  the flow of electrical power through each circuit.
• The flow of electricity is referred to as the Load, which describes the amount of electricity that is flowing through the circuit.
• The amount of electrical flow is measured in watts and amperes, also know as amps.
• A Spark When Power is Turned On or Turned Off

• When a device or equipment is connected to an electrical circuit and is in the ON position there is an electrical Load that is being produced which causes the flow of electricity.
• When the flow of electricity is started or stopped it can produce a spark of electricity between two components which provide the connection of electricity.
• Common components that provide electricity where a spark may be produced are circuit breakers, switches, outlets and cord plugs, or any two components which complete the circuit and provide the flow of electricity.
• It is always best to reduce or eliminate the electrical load before turning a circuit on or off which therefore reduces the occurrence of an electric spark which can over time cause deterioration between the points of contact, which can then produce a failure of the connection.
• This is why we have to replace a bad switch or receptacle outlet where the contacts wear out due to this electrical spark, which is also known as arcing.
• The Higher the Electrical Load the Bigger the Spark

• The size of an electrical spark that is produced when a device turned on or off will depend on the amount of electricity that will be required by the device.
• A switch that turns on a light fixture with a standard 60 watt light bulb will produce a smaller spark than an 1800 watt electric skillet that is plugged in while the control is in the on position.

Resources to Learn More about Home Electrical Wiring

### Wiring Electrical Outlets for the Home

Home electrical wiring includes 110 volt outlets and 220 volt outlets and receptacles which are common place in every home. See how wiring electrical outlets for the home are done.

 » 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.

## Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handywomen, and Electricians
Includes:
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.

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

## 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.

#### FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

3 Responses to “The Cause of an Electric Spark”
1. Donna Brua says:

We were hanging a TV on the den wall. The stud finder said we were on a stud but when we drilled, there wasn’t a stud and the drill created an electrical spark when it went into the wall. It is not directly above or below an outlet or switch. Could there be a fire danger? What should we do to ensure everything is safe?

• Dave Rongey says:

Hi Donna,
From what you have described the drill may have damaged an electrical cable inside the wall. There is a good possibility that there may be a tripped circuit breaker or other electrical devices that may have been affected. In a situation like this it is always good to open up a section of the drywall so the cable can be inspected. Since the TV will be mounted on the wall then hopefully the opening of the drywall will be located right behind the TV. Nevertheless there should be room enough to see what has happened to the cable.
Typically when an electrical cable has been damaged inside a wall the circuit is turned off, and a junction box is installed where the cable is damaged and a inline splice is installed for each wire. Other alternatives are to replace one section, or the entire cable run from the preceding junction box to the following. Keep in mind that spliced electrical wires must be enclosed inside a junction box and the junction box must be accessible. This may possibly create an ideal location for an outlet for the wall mounted TV if the cable is being used for an outlet circuit.
I hope this helps,
Dave

• Donna Brua says:

Thanks. Very helpful.