Should I Replace my Electrical Socket?
The initial setup for electrical systems in homes was primarily for large appliances and lighting. Homes had few outlets since almost all electronics were hard-wired in. Over time, the size of electronics shrunk (rapidly) and the modern electrical outlet became more and more prevalent within the home. Now, standard construction for homes includes multiple outlets in each room at regular intervals. With the increase in energy-hungry portable devices, making sure there’s an open outlet is a priority in architectural design. It also means that a damaged or non-functional outlet is a major issue as soon as the outlet stops working.
Does my Outlet Need to be Replaced?
At this point, many of us have adapted to the idea that an outlet we thought was broken is simply attached to a wall switch. The first step to determining if it’s time to replace an outlet is to test for functionality. Double check breakers and wall switches to make sure the circuit isn’t just de-energized. To test the plug, you can either plug in a lamp or buy an outlet tester to check for voltage safely. If you plan to replace broken outlets yourself, then it’s a good idea to go ahead and pick up a multimeter or outlet tester. A damaged or old outlet should be replaced for safety reasons as well. Electrical fires from shorts and shocks are dangerous and with how simple the repair is, there’s no reason to take the risk. Common signs of aging or damaged electrical outlets (and wall switches too) are:
- • Faceplate or screws are hot to the touch
- • Screws emit an electric shock or buzz when touched
- • You can smell burning, smoke, or the scent of fish or urine from the outlet
- • Frequent breaker trips when using the outlet
- • Plugs slide out of the outlet easily
- • Loud pops or sparks when plugging into the outlet
- • Irregular connectivity/outlet does not always work
- • Occasional smoke when outlet is in use
If the answer to any of these signs is “yes,” then replace your outlet immediately. Even a minor issue can lead to serious risk of shock or burns later. Older outlets that have trouble holding onto a plug need to be updated even if they work fine otherwise. Most outlets are inexpensive and the replacement is simple. In heavily trafficked rooms, it may even be a good idea to upgrade your outlets to include USB ports to free up the electrical plug and reduce the number of chargers left in wall sockets.