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How do I know if my electrical outlet needs replacing?

Posted by West Bend Staff on Oct 10, 2023 8:00:00 AM

How our outlets function directly affects the delivery of electricity to the appliances and other electronic devices we use.  Electrical outlets can go bad and malfunction occasionally, but how do we know when it’s time to replace them?  

Here are some clues:

  1. The plastic cover of the outlet is discolored or melted.
  2. You see smoke or sparks or smell burning odors emitting from the outlet.
  3. The outlet cover feels hot.
  4. Plugs no longer fit the outlet properly or fall out.
  5. The outlet has only two openings for prongs.
  6. The ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) no longer trips.

outletsMelted or discolored plastic can result from excess heat, the outlet short-circuiting, or damaged wires.  Smoke, sparks, or burning odors are often signs of a fire hazard and should be inspected by a licensed professional immediately.  If the cover of an outlet feels hot, this is a sign of bad wiring and needs special and immediate attention. 

Have you ever encountered a situation where your plug keeps falling from an outlet?  This is a fire hazard and a sign of excess wear and tear, which leads to weak connections.  If you’ve just purchased an older home and it has two-prong-outlets, it would be a good idea to get them updated.  Three-prong outlets include a ground plug which protects you from unexpected shocks. 

Lastly, if your GFCI outlet doesn’t trip or after it trips doesn’t resume operation after the power is restored, it’s an excellent time to get it replaced.  This could also result in electrocution if not repaired or replaced. 

The safety and security of our families are a priority, and keeping an eye on your electrical outlets is one easy way to prevent a fire in your home.  Hiring a licensed electrician to replace your outlet due to the above situations is the best way to be confident your home is safe. 

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This blog was written by Nina Jakubczak.

Topics: Home Safety, Fire Safety

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