Electrical outlets, also called receptacles, are used to power the many devices and appliances used in the home, such as lamps, phones, TVs, and space heaters. Over time, the outlet can become damaged and show signs it needs to be repaired. Here are a few common problems with outlet receptacles, including their causes and solutions.
- Worn-out slots
The slots in an electrical outlet have metal contact points that are designed to grip the hot, neutral, and grounding prongs on cord plugs. Over time, these contacts begin to lose their gripping power and create greater electrical resistance and heat that can cause issues with the wiring and lead to tripped circuit breakers.
To address this issue, turn off the power and install a new receptacle.
- Loose wire connections
Heavy use of a particular outlet can cause wires to expand and contract, causing the screws to loosen. In addition, the circuit breakers can trip. To fix loose wire connections, turn off power to the circuit and tighten all the connections. Be sure to tighten the receptacle mounting strap so that it doesn’t move when inserting or removing a cord.
- Cracked body
Cracked or chipped receptacles are a safety hazard that should be addressed. Turn off the power to the circuit and replace the receptacle with a new one.
- Improper rating
Standard household circuits have receptacles rated for 15- and 20-amps. Mismatching receptacles with circuit amperage can cause the circuit breakers to trip, damage the wires, and even start an electrical fire. It’s important to review the amperage of the circuit and use the right receptacle.
- Poor quality
Receptacles should carry a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) rating. Those that don’t have a valid safety certification should be replaced.
- Reversed polarity
Each receptacle has hot and neutral wire connections so that the plugs used by most lamps and appliances will receive the right type of current. Reversed wire connections pose an increased danger of fire or shock during a short circuit. To correct reversed polarity, shut off power to the circuit and change circuit wire connections.
- No ground connection
Use a plug-in circuit tester to identify a lack of grounding and shut off power before inspecting the receptacle’s ground connections. In this case, call Blue Apple for professional electrical services to make the necessary improvements.