How to identify loose connections

Loose connections can be deadly and cause electric shocks or fires.

Plugs, cords, and outlets like powerboards need to be carefully wired and maintained to ensure they don’t cause electric shocks or fires.

Over time, the use of plugs and sockets can wear down the connection between the pins of the plug and the contacts of the socket (commonly known as power points). This can result in a loose connection that can cause electrical arching which may result in a fire.  

Keep an eye on the plugs and sockets in your home as they age, particularly in old homes where the wiring was not designed for the number of electrical appliances in use today.

 

 What to look for 

  • Frayed cord
  • Discoloured wall socket
  • Discoloured appliance 
  • Loose plug 
  • Changes in shape to the plug, socket or appliance (e.g. signs of melting) 
  • Smoke 

What to listen for

  • Buzzing, arching or other unusual sounds 

What to smell for

  • Smoke
  • Burning plastic

If you spot any of these you should contact a competent electrical worker to check it for you and ask for a thermal image to be carried out at the same time.

If in doubt, chuck it out.

Sockets and switches safety checklist

Next time you’re cleaning check that:

  • all sockets, switches and powerboards are working properly with no damaged or broken parts
  • all plugs and cords are in good working condition
  • all electric plugs fit snugly into the socket - check the connection isn’t too loose
  • all powerboards are placed up high, out of the way
  • you haven't got high current appliances such as heaters or kettles plugged into powerboxes 
  • limit the number of appliances plugged into one socket
  • have only one heater per socket 

Overheated appliances

When electrical items are in use or being charged there is a risk that they can overheat.

What can you do:

  • Never cover appliances when they are being charged or used – especially smart phones 
  • If the appliance has an internal fan system (i.e. laptops) make sure there is good ventilation so they can cool themselves down