Just why is it important to check electrical outlets regularly and to replace them every so often? The answer is simple: The good condition of electrical outlets ensures wires don’t spark and currents don’t surge when appliances are plugged in. It can be the one thing that stands between homeowners and minor accidents like brief electric shocks, and major incidents like electrical fires. It also determines whether a homeowner needs to fix home electric systems – and how much he or she would pay for that.
Here are the chief warning signs that a maintenance check is overdue and an outlet needs to be replaced.
Outlet covers are warm and/or give off a burning smell.
It is a must that all electrical outlets and switches are cool to the touch. When these are warm, that’s a sign that wires are getting too hot and on the way to overheating – and one step away from possibly short-circuiting. The best thing to do when this happens is to switch off and unplug appliances.
Outlets that give off a burning smell are already in a dangerous state – it would be best to shut them down and call an electrician right away.
Plugging into an outlet causes electric shocks.
When uncontrolled electrical currents suddenly surge toward an outlet, these can give off electric shocks to anyone attempting to plug into it. These surges are usually caused by faulty and damaged wiring but are also made possible by unprotected outlets.
Homeowners can install kinds of outlets like a GCFI or ground fault circuit interrupter, which automatically detects abnormal surges in current and shuts down the flow of electricity before it can damage appliances or harm people. They can also equip outlets with safety covers so prevent children from touching outlets and accidentally electrocuting themselves.
Outlets are chipped or cracked.
When outlet plates are chipped or cracked, these expose the wiring inside walls, not only to hazards like dust or water, but to the touch of people in a household. Exposed wires heighten the risk of short-circuiting, electrocution, and electrical fires – especially if sparks pop out from the exposed outlet and onto nearby rugs or easily flammable items.
Five tips for electrical outlet maintenance. Homestructions.
Hidden dangers of cracked outlets. About Home. August 26, 2015.