Why Would a Wall Outlet Make a Humming or Buzzing Sound?

outlet buzzing

If you travel around the world, you’ll notice that outlets aren’t universal. Outlets in Brazil and South Africa have three circular prong holes in a curved shape, while those in Europe and Russia have two circular prong holes. While they may look different from country to country, one thing remains the same – they shouldn’t make a buzzing or humming noise.

5 Reasons Your Outlet is Making a Buzzing or Humming Sound

1. Bad Fixtures like Lamps

Sometimes a buzzing or humming outlet has nothing to do with the outlet itself but is actually a bad fixture or lamp. If you think your outlet is buzzing or humming, remove the item that’s plugged into the outlet and plug it in at a separate outlet. If the new outlet also buzzes or hums and it didn’t previously, then the fixture is what’s causing the issue. Stop using the fixture or get a replacement.

2. Dimmer Switches

If your dimmer switch shares a circuit with other outlets, it may cause buzzing at the light fixture and in other places around your home. Turn your dimmer switch off and listen for the buzzing sound. If the buzzing stops, then the dimmer switch is the cause. Replace your current light bulb with rough service bulbs and see if that remedies the problem. If the problem persists, you may need to consider replacing the dimmer switch with a regular switch or contacting an electrician to resolve the issue.

3. Bad Outlet

One of the most common reasons that your outlet would buzz or hum is that the electrical outlet is simply bad or contains deteriorating components. When you plug something into an outlet, the prongs are held in place by contact blades within the outlet. If these blades become loose or damaged, it won’t keep the plug in place – causing the outlet to buzz. If this occurs, you’ll need to contact an electrician to replace the electrical outlet and verify that the screws and wires are still making good contact.

4. Bad Wiring

If your outlet isn’t wired correctly, it’s not uncommon that you’ll hear a buzzing or humming noise. This can happen as your outlet ages and wires begin to deteriorate. Bad wiring can also be a sign of issues at the circuit breaker. You should contact an electrician to investigate your outlet wiring for damage, wear, or bad connections.

5. Improper Installation

Nothing is more frustrating than hiring an electrician and then discovering that they didn’t install your outlets correctly – but this can happen. If the buzzing or humming gets louder the more items you plug in, you may have a reversed polarity problem due to an incorrect installation. You should call a certified electrician to get their outlets properly repaired.

Is a Buzzing Outlet Dangerous?

While a buzzing or humming outlet isn’t normal, what’s causing the noise directly impacts how dangerous it is to you and your home. If the cause is not coming from your outlet directly — like with a bad lamp or other fixture —  getting rid of that fixture will resolve the problem and keep you and your family safe.

If the cause is a dimmer switch, a bad outlet or wiring, or poor installation, then your home will be safer once a licensed electrician has resolved the issue. That’s because a buzzing or humming outlet can cause extensive damages, including:

  • Fire
  • Electrocution
  • Harm to yourself or loved ones

Climate Design Can Help

At Climate Design, we provide HVAC and electrical services all over Tampa Bay: Clearwater, Largo, Palm Harbor, South Tampa, St. Pete Beach, Eastlake, Tarpon Springs, Safety Harbor, St. Petersburg, Sarasota, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, Palmetto, and New Port Richey.

If you’re having electrical or HVAC issues, we can help!

Call (888) 572-7245 to Schedule Your Appointment

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