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Why is my electric outlet getting hot?
By Teresa from Louisville, Ky
There could be a short in it which would definitely be a fire hazard if it is getting hot. Check with a handy man or electrician you may know to verify. If you don't know any ask at your church if there is someone that could help. If it is getting hot with nothing plugged into it it is a real danger, get it checked fast. Oh, if you are renting tell your landlord to get it checked out and fixed.
It's possible the wires attached to the outlet are loose, not making a good connection. Even if you're not using this outlet, there could be another outlet on the same circuit that is pulling current for an appliance plugged into it.
If you're the homeowner, find and shut off the breaker that controls this outlet, remove the cover plate, unscrew the plug from the box and pull it out where you can inspect the wires and connections. If any of the wires are loose, tighten them down and look for any signs of overheating; for example, the insulation being scorched brown or black. If you locate and tighten a loose wire(s), you can put the outlet back in place and turn on the breaker and see if it still gets warm. If not, you've solved the problem. If it still warms up, turn off that breaker again and call an electrician to check the outlet.
We live in a house built in the 1970s with aluminum wiring-which is a big fire hazard because it can start fires in the wall or ceiling that you don't know about until it spreads, a house in our neighborhood burned down a couple of years ago from an electrical fire caused by aluminum wiring!
We have occasionally over the years had a couple of outlets that feel hot to the touch, especially one in the kitchen, sometimes I've even smelled it "burning". My husband would replace the outlet and some of the wiring.
The last time, when he checked the one in the kitchen because I could smell it (nobody else has ever smelled it), the wire had burned through the plastic on the outlet and was on the verge of starting a fire in the wall! He rewired that outlet all the way back to the main wiring in the attic and we haven't had a problem since.
The house I grew up in was built in 1890s and had same problem. My dad re-wired the whole house. That's what needs to be done with our house, but my husband isn't comfortable with doing it and an electrician said it would be around $6000, which we can't afford. We just watch our outlets, don't overload and occasionally I will go around and feel them, especially the one's that have something plugged into them.
Just beware if you have an older home with wiring like this, it can be very dangerous, houses burn down from this problem all the time.