Why is my plug and socket getting hot?
We have all experienced in some form that our plug and/or socket was too warm or even hot that made us worry. Please note that electrical heat can damage not just your socket but all your part of appliance.
Although, electrical appliances can get warm under light or heavy usage but the plugs, sockets or appliance's cord should not be.
Common signs of faults:
burnt or hot smell of plastic
discoloured, multicoloured or darkened plugs and sockets
Melts or signs of arching
Cracking, Sizzling or Buzzing sounds
Heat damage within a plug will cause the metal to turn darker, often with a multicoloured pattern. The plastic may also be melted, particularly around the contact. Typically, this happens when you turn them either on or off.
The picture behind the title was taken from an elderly couple's home upstairs next to their bed. They complained about the light but not even the burnt or heat damaged socket. It was quite alarming that elderly people over certain age are less able to distinguish or even notice such a dangerous situtation, therefore is vital to carry out EICR - Electrical Installation Condition Report in our home to avoid such scenarios.
What are the causes of electric heat?
Unwanted wire or plug heat come from electric arcing. It could be caused by poor or damaged insulation around cables or in other words conductors and loose connections. Damaged cable responsible for the popping sound or an arc flaw. If the cause is a damaged wire, the wiring cannot cope with the energy flowing, which is why the arcing takes place.
Overload: Although the conductors operating temperature is 75°C yet the surrounding materials except insulation will absorb most of them. Overloading sockets are another cause damage if more than 2,900W being connected to a 13A plug. Users assume that a 13A plug can take just that - 13A (3,000W). On the contrary, the maximum safe load limit of a UK socket is 12.6A (2,900W) and only for a short period of time, such as when boiling a kettle. Prolonged usage such as high as 2,900W will lead to the plug becoming warm.
Loose Connection within the Socket or Plug: Gradually, the metal-copper parts within the socket which contact with the plug pins will loosen up and the loose connection creates heat, the heat increases the resistance of the connection, which in turn generates even more heat, until the contacts do not effectively clip around the plug pins. Unlike with a loose plug fuse, the brown marks/cracks on the socket will not mirror the position of the fuse.
Corrosion: The pins on the plug should be clean and shiny in appearance. If they are dull or corroded, this will increase the resistance of their contact with the socket. They can be easily cleaned using fine emery paper or wire wool. The socket may be visibly damaged around where the pins enter it. This is especially true where moisture builds up like in the Kitchen above worktops or damp corners or rooms. Also, socket on the external walls are more likely to corred than anywhere else in the room. When this moisture-packed warm air comes into contact with a chilly surface, it cools down quickly and releases the water, which turns into liquid droplets on the cold surfaces.
What to do If the problem still persists?
We recommend regular Inspection & Testing of your home electrical wiring system at least 5 to 10 years or every time you move. Do not take electricity lightly as it can cause serious property and value damage, needless to say unnecessary risk of dwellers.
In my recent experience, I was called out for this issue and I found out that the Ring Final (Socket Circuit) was broken, eventhough the Consumer Unit/Fusebox had been replaced few years ago.
Unfortunately, during house renovation, kitchen revamp or DIY works could cause more problems in the end by unskilled, self-appointed experts.
We recommend, to call out Registered Electricians from Electrical Competent Person Scheme website, where you can search from local electricians with a Registered National Body behind them, like NICEIC, NAPIT or STORMA.
You must check if your electrician is qualified and also registered to carry out Domestic work under Part P and he must be registered with one of the 5 main organization, which you can check on the Competent Person scheme here.
Please Feel free to contact Cavendish Eletricals & Services and send us an enquiry through our web page. If you have any question you can email us to email@example.com or you can call us on 015 3648 3348.
We cover a wide range of areas: Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Greater London (M25).