Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Subject: black substance around light switches

Name: Marilyn McConnell

I have several outlets and switches that have a black substance on the back of the face plate and it has also come out of the outlets/switches and blacken the wall around it. Whats going on in your opinion?? It is not limited to 110 outlets---my dryer plate also displays the same black substance. What should I do???

Hi Marilyn,
You have nothing to worry about from an electrical point of view. What you're seeing is dust build-up coming from within the walls. The outlets act like air vents. The are points where air flows if there is a pressure difference between the outside and inside. The dust can be anything from cinder coming off concrete to roof tar coming out of the attic. This is a sign, though, that your house is wasting energy by not being sealed tightly enough. You may want to contact an insulation contractor and see if there is something that can be done to make your home more energy efficient.

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