Wall sockets are a ubiquitous part of any home. We use them every day to plug in and recharge our appliances and devices. It is because of their utilitarian nature that we usually take them for granted and rarely appreciate the important purpose that they serve in our daily existence. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to plug in and tap into the grid: we wouldn’t be able to do a lot of things; refrigerate our food, watch our favorite movies and programs, play games and surf the net, charge our phones and tablets…the list of activities goes on and on. It’s precisely for this reason that we should always take care of our electrical outlets, and inspect them regularly. Most electricians will tell you that you should inspect them every 3 to 5 years; and that you should immediately inspect them (or have them inspected) when you move into a new (or maybe not-so-new) home. Regular inspection of outlets is essential for ensuring the safety of your home and your family and will prevent potential damage to your appliances and devices. Once an outlet becomes compromised, it should be replaced as soon as possible. Here are some of the things that you should be looking out for when you do a visual inspection of your wall sockets:
Check for damage or discoloration to the outlet plate – Check to see if there are holes or cracks to the outlet plate. These may be dangerous when too much of the electrical wiring underneath is exposed. These cracks may also allow dust or lint to build up inside the outlet which may cause fire or explosions if left unchecked. Also, watch out for any discoloration or soot on the outlet plate or connection slots; as these indicate overheating for the outlet.
Check for heat on the outlet – Check to see if the outlet plate is warm, or if the screws that hold it to the wall are hot: these also indicate an overheating outlet. Sure, some electrical devices like hair dryers and curling irons cause some heating to the plate, but if the screws are hot; it may indicate that you are running too much power through the outlet; and that you need to replace it with an outlet that can handle larger loads.
Check for socket looseness – Check to see if your appliances’/adaptors’ plugs fall out or stick out halfway when you plug them in. This may indicate damaged or worn out outlet mechanisms; particularly the outlet’s spring mechanism. This is dangerous because it could lead to a potential fire hazard called arcing or arc faults.
Check for two-hole connection slots – Check to see if your outlets have two or three connection slots. Two-slot outlets are obsolete and cannot support newer electrical appliances; which require a much higher power output than these outlets can conduct. You should replace them with three-slot outlets as soon as possible; as continuing to use them could prove dangerous.
Check for sparks, fluctuation, or smoke – Check to see if there are sparks or smoke when you plug your appliances into the outlet. This may indicate connection problems and are a red flag telling you to replace the outlet right away. If the power fluctuates when using appliances plugged into your outlet, this may be an indication of faulty wiring or some other electrical problem that can be addressed by replacing the outlet or the wiring.
Wiretech Company Residential Electrical Service and Repair can help you with your outlet problems by performing an electrical safety inspection of your home. We can also repair and replace your electrical outlets. We’ve been providing professional residential electrical services in the Raleigh Area since 1990. Call us up at 919-372-4536 or contact us online for all of your questions and for more information.