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Watch for Signs of Broken Outlets

GFCI-Electrical-OutletOutlets in a home are something we tend to take for granted. We don’t often think of outlets wearing out with time, but this is exactly what happens. No electrical device can last forever, and you probably put a large power demand on many of your home’s outlets. (For example, how long has that one light been plugged into the same outlet? Years?) Outlets can break, and when they do they have the potential to create hazards. When you have broken outlets, call Anderson for electrical repair in West Orange, NJ as soon as you can.

How Can I Tell I Have Broken Outlets?

The obvious answer would seem to be: “when the outlet doesn’t provide electrical power.” But there are other warnings signs you can watch for that are not as obvious, and catching them early helps with safety.

  • Plugs fall out: Some plugs have a spring mechanism in them to help hold plugs in place. If you notice an outlet allowing plugs to keep slipping out, this mechanism has probably worn down. If it’s worn down, then there are probably other issues in the outlet that need to be investigated.
  • AFCI/GFCI outlet that needs to be reset often: We’ve discussed AFCI and GFCI outlets before—they help prevent high voltage shocks from outlets. If the breaker in one of these outlets trips, pressing the “reset” button on the outlet face will restore power to the outlet. If you find you’re having to reset the outlet on a regular basis, something is wrong with the breaker in the outlet that needs to be checked on.
  • Warm outlet: If you place your hand on the surface of the outlet and it feels abnormally warm, you need to call for an electrician right away. This can indicate bad wiring and an electrical fire behind the outlet.
  • Scorch marks on the outlet: These scorch marks look like spots of discoloration on the plastic of the outlet, and are another sign of electrical fires and overheating in the outlet.
  • Cracks: When you see cracks across the outlet of the surface, stop using the outlet immediately. Cracks indicate heat levels that have caused the outlet’s plastic to expand. Even a small crack is a warning that it’s time to call for an expert technician to fix the problem.
  • Acrid odors: When you notice an acrid, burning smell from an outlet, there are probably loose wires in it.
  • Sparking: When the outlet sparks noticeably as a plug is put into it, it’s another sign of a loose wire.

In all these situations, we advise you to go to the electrical panel for the house and flip the breaker for the suspect outlet. This cuts off electricity to the outlet so it won’t have a chance to create hazards. Then get on the phone with our electrician to schedule repair work. Never attempt to fix the outlet on your own by unscrewing the cover and poking around with tools! Even with the power cut off, you may accidentally create a fire hazard with an amateur repair attempt.

Anderson Electric Corp. is your local electrician for over 25 years. Schedule service to repair or replace outlets.

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