Dingy, discolored outlets? Outlets that won’t hold a plug? Here’s how to tell when it’s time to give up the ghost and replace those tired, old outlets…
How to Know When to Replace Outlets
From visual to functional cues, these signs indicate it’s time to replace the outlets in your home:
- Your outlets only have two-prongs.
All outlets that do not have three-prongs should be immediately replaced. Besides preventing you from plugging-in three-prong appliances, two-prong outlets are ungrounded. This presents a substantial shock risk, and puts your expensive electronics at-risk of permanent damage. (Surge protection will not offer protection when paired with an ungrounded electrical system.) Simply swapping out your old two-prong outlets for their three-pronged counterparts is not enough. Your electrical panel must be rewired to provide the necessary ground to make older two-prong outlets safe.
- You insert a plug in an outlet and it falls out.
If the slots of an outlet are loose, and plugs fall out no matter what appliance is connected, the contacts within the outlet are worn. This may not seem like a big deal, but the missed/loose connections created by worn outlets can cause electrical arcing and put you at major risk of house fires. If you notice plugs falling out of problem outlets, it’s definitely time for a replacement.
- Outlets feel hot to the touch.
Outlets that feel hot to the touch are a sure sign of electrical trouble, indicating loose, damaged, or worn wires hidden behind the walls that pose a huge fire hazard.
- Your outlets are discolored from heat.
If an outlet or the surrounding wall are discolored, this is a giant flashing warning sign your outlet may be burned, damaged, or improperly installed. Short circuits commonly leave scorch marks and melt plastics surrounding the receptacle and can quickly result in fire. Never attempt to use a discolored outlet. Cut power to the outlet at the panel and contact an electrical professional to have it inspected and addressed immediately.
- You plug in an appliance and see a spark, smoke, or smell something burning.
Any of the above signs are a clear indicator your outlets should be immediately inspected and replaced due to short circuit or water exposure. Sizzling or popping sounds are especially worrisome, indicating a fire waiting to happen. Turn off power to the outlet at the panel, and have your outlets inspected as soon as possible.
- Your GFCI outlet s don’t trip when tested.
If you press the TEST button and GFCI outlets don’t trip (and you’re sure they have power/the breaker hasn’t tripped), they’re no longer protecting you, and should be immediately replaced. Ditto if you hit the TEST button, the outlet is tripped, but the RESET button won’t restore power. GFCIs only last about 10 years – five in areas prone to storms and power surges. Replace effected outlets with a new GFCI as soon as possible, as these specialty outlets are essential to safeguarding lives in areas of your home exposed to water. Once your outlets are replaced, test them monthly – quarterly at a minimum.
When to Upgrade Outlets
In addition to replacing outlets when they’re worn, there may be times when you should consider upgrading your existing outlets to new outlet technology, even if they’re still going strong. Advances in today’s outlet tech offer many advantages….
- Save space.
USB outlets are a great way to maximize outlet real estate given the glut of outlet-hogging chargers today’s families rely upon.
- Increase safety.
Recessed outlets prevent plugs from protruding; and pop-out outlets prevent cords from hanging in dangerous countertop areas, keeping outlets safely tucked away from little fingers when not in-use.
- Convenient operation.
Wi-Fi outlets allow for the monitoring and operation of outlets from anywhere, offering peace of mind for coffee and curling iron related snafus, and reducing vampire energy drain.
All thumbs when it comes to DIY repairs? Stay safe with the help of Mr. Electric. Contact us for a quote on our reasonably-priced outlet repairs and upgrades today.