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Electricity is an integral modern convenience in our homes. While maintaining our electrical systems is crucial, electrical maintenance raises questions.

For example, is your electrical outlet hot? If you have one or more warm outlets in your home, it might be time to consult a licensed electrician. You’ll want to make any necessary upgrades to your home’s electrical system as soon as possible.

What Does a Hot Electrical Outlet Mean?

A hot outlet is a safety concern you shouldn’t ignore. Consider each of the following potential causes to diagnose your hot outlet problem. 

Damaged System

If your electrical system is damaged, it may result in suboptimal performance of your outlets. If you notice any broken, chipped, or worn outlets, these damages could cause them to emit heat.

Check your outlets regularly for damage, and consult an electrician if they start to warm up. While cosmetic damages to outlets or switch plates don’t necessarily indicate damages behind the wall, keep a careful eye on damaged outlets to ensure they don’t overheat.

Too Many Items Plugged In

too many items plugged into an electrical strip

Your outlets could be hot as a result of outlet overloading. Having too many items plugged into one outlet could be too much for an outlet’s capacity, leading to overheating. 

It’s important to note that anything plugged into an outlet should not exceed 80% of the amperage rating for that circuit. If you’re using a splitter or power strip, consider moving some of your devices to a different outlet.

Faulty Wiring

Hot outlets could arise as a result of faulty wiring. If there are bad connections inside an outlet or a switch, the flow of electricity could produce more heat. If you notice outlet heating, ask an electrician to inspect the wires behind your electrical outlets.

Too Much Demand on the Circuit

Even if there aren’t any items plugged in, an outlet could become hot if the current is too much for the circuit to handle. If you live in an older home and only completed some electrical upgrades, you’ll want to make sure your entire system has been upgraded to 220-volts.

Upgrading your home to a 220-volt system will ensure your appliances aren’t overpowered and that the currents running through the wiring in your home aren’t overloading your circuits. 

Wall Warts at Work

Many devices use wall warts (transformers) to convert AC to DC power. Rectifiers in electronic devices turn alternating currents (AC) into direct circuits (DC). The conversion process can lead to hot outlets.

Wrong Breaker or Fuse Size

Older circuits, especially in older homes, may not be designed to accommodate many electronics. If a circuit is underpowered, overheating occurs when it tries to overcompensate. 

Similarly, if a circuit breaker is oversized, it could allow an unsafe amperage to pass through. Make sure your circuits can accommodate the devices plugged in throughout your home.

What to Do When the Electrical Outlet is Hot

If your electrical outlet is hot, try the following fixes to address the problem:

  • Turn off the circuit breaker that powers the hot outlet.
    • If your circuit breakers aren’t labeled, you can do this yourself by turning off individual circuits and determining which outlets each breaker controls. Or, you can hire an electrician to do this for you. 
  • Unplug everything connected to the hot outlet. Wait a few hours, and then plug the device back in. Monitor it to determine if the issue is resolved.
  • Unplug any devices with a transformer. Common examples are cellphone chargers, computer power cables, and air conditioners. 
  • If you have multiple devices plugged into one outlet, spread them out.

You can also consult an electrician to explore the following fixes:

  • Check for wiring issues.
  • Ensure outlet compatibility with outlet multipliers, power strips, or extension cords.
  • Make sure your circuits are the right size for the appliances and devices used in your home.

Consulting a licensed electrician is always the best course for addressing electricity issues. If you think a hot outlet could put you in immediate danger, call your local fire department, especially if there is a fire risk. 

Hot Outlets: Safety is Paramount

outlet with burn marks

If your outlets are hot, you can attempt to troubleshoot them yourself. But if you’re stumped or don’t want to risk tinkering with your electrical system yourself, hire an electrician. The professionals at U.S Electric can solve the problem for you. It’s always best to leave electrical work to the pros!