Are Painted Outlets a Fire Hazard?

145
removing outlet cover to paint and prevent fire hazard

It’s no secret that many homeowners like personalizing their homes with a coat of paint. Whether it’s the walls, the ceilings, the trim, or outlets, a fresh coat of paint can brighten up any room.

But while painting your home may be a fun way to express yourself, it’s important to remember that there are some things you should never paint – like outlets. Why? Because painted outlets can be dangerous.

So if you’re asking, “are painted outlets a fire hazard?” this article is for you. We’ll explain the risks of painted outlets, as well as the correct way to paint outlets to reduce your chances of starting a fire. 

What are Painted Outlets, and Why are They a Fire Hazard?

Outlets are typically painted a neutral color such as white or beige to match the walls. But lately, many homeowners paint their outlets and light switches in fun and colorful designs.

While this may seem harmless to add personality to your home, it’s important to remember that painted outlets can be dangerous. 

This is because when an outlet is painted, the live components of the outlet become hidden. 

And if someone isn’t familiar with properly operating an outlet, they may not know that the live parts are still exposed.

In addition, paint can also slow down or stop the flow of electricity, creating a fire hazard. For this reason, it’s important to exercise caution when painting outlets – and to always follow the proper safety precautions.

Risks of Painting Outlets 

There are a few risks to consider before painting an outlet, including: 

  • Electrocution: When the live parts of an outlet are hidden by paint, there is a risk of electrocution if someone were to touch the exposed live parts. 
  • Fire hazard: Paint can also slow down or stop the flow of electricity, creating an electrical fire hazard
  • Damage to the outlet or switch: If paint gets into the live parts of an outlet, it can damage the outlet or switch and cause it to malfunction.

Now that we’ve gone over the risks of painted outlets, let’s take a look at how to paint them the right way.

How to Paint Outlets the Right Way

If you’re determined to paint your outlets, there are a few safety precautions you need to take: 

  • Use painters’ tape: Before painting an outlet, use painters’ tape to cover the live parts of the outlet or switch. This will prevent paint from getting into the live parts and damaging the outlet. 
  • Use a small brush: When painting an outlet, use a small brush to avoid getting paint on the live parts of the outlet. 
  • Let the paint dry completely: After you’ve finished painting an outlet, let the paint dry completely before using the outlet.

  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy: It never hurts to keep preventative fire tools, like a fire extinguisher or fire blanket, handy when attempting this project.

Painting Outlet Covers Instead of the Actual Outlet 

If you’re not comfortable painting outlets, another option is to paint the outlet covers instead. This way, you can still add a pop of color to your room without exposing the live parts of the outlet.

Most people don’t give much thought to their outlet covers, but they can actually be quite easy to change up if you’re looking for a quick and easy way to add a pop of color to your room.

Here are a few simple steps to follow the next time you’re feeling like painting your outlet covers:

1. Remove the screws that hold the outlet cover in place. If your outlet covers are painted, you’ll want to sand them down before beginning so that the new paint will have a good surface to adhere to.

2. Apply a thin layer of primer to the front and back of the outlet cover. Once the primer is dry, you can begin painting. We recommend using semi-gloss or high-gloss paint for best results.

3. Apply multiple thin layers of paint, allowing each one to dry completely before adding the next. Once you’re happy with the coverage, replace the screws and enjoy your new look!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is it safe to spray paint an outlet?

No. It might seem easy to get the look you want, but spraying paint directly onto an outlet can be dangerous. The paint can seep into the cracks and crevices of the outlet, causing a short circuit. If you do decide to paint your outlets, be sure to use a brush and paint the outlets carefully by hand.

Do painters remove outlet covers?

Most painters will remove outlet covers before they start painting. There are a few reasons for this. First, it is easier to paint around the outlet covers if they are not in place. Second, removing the covers helps to avoid getting paint on them. And finally, it is simply easier to put the outlet covers back in place when the painting is finished if they were removed beforehand. So while there may be a slight bit of extra work involved, most painters find that it is worth taking the time to remove outlet covers before starting to paint.

Is it bad to paint light switches?

While it might seem like a good idea to paint light switches to match the walls, doing so can actually cause some problems. First, paint can make it more difficult to see the switch, making it harder to find in the dark. Second, paint can make it more difficult to tell if the switch is in the on or off position. Third, paint can chip and flake off over time, making the switch more difficult to operate. For these reasons, it’s generally best to avoid painting light switches.

Is it against code to paint electrical wires?

The paint is a barrier between the metal and the air, preventing rust and corrosion. Additionally, the paint helps to insulate the wires, preventing accidental shocks. However, it is important to use high-quality, safe paint designed for use on electrical wires. Otherwise, the paint could crack or peel, exposing the metal beneath.