We don’t spend much time thinking about the handy electrical outlets – also known as receptacles - that dot our walls and floors. Instead, we grab their power mindlessly and bend them to our will. We expand two receptacles into six by purchasing inexpensive multi-plugs or extension cords. We don’t notice that outlets wiggle a little bit when we plug in our devices. If a plug falls out – a common occurrence with older wall outlets – we put them back in without a second thought.
If we consider outlets at all, we’re likely to complain, “Why aren’t they located in more convenient places?” Yet all of these examples signal electrical outlets that need professional attention. Neglecting unsafe conditions is certainly risky: the Consumer Product Safety Commission has estimated that residential electrical outlets spark 5,300 fires a year in the United States and cause nearly 4,000 injuries.
Electrical outlets typically beg for attention in four ways:
Overstuffed: Multi-plugs or extension cords make it easy to plug in too many devices at once, but this often creates extremely dangerous “nests” of electrical cords all feeding into one overburdened outlet. (Nests are usually tucked out of sight because, let’s be honest, we all know these are bad ideas.) Overload warning signs include warm outlets and tripping circuit breakers. In extreme situations, outlets can glow cherry red with heat. The best fix? Retain a Service America electrician to install more outlets in these locations.
Overloaded: Outlets become overloaded when we plug in multiple high-wattage devices like toaster ovens and microwaves at once. Tripping circuit breakers often cut the current quickly. In the short term, relocate these devices to other areas for use. Long term, retain a professional to install more capacity in high-demand areas.
Tired: Outlets are carefully engineered safety devices that last for many years, but they eventually wear out and require replacing. Plugging in a device should require a firm push and the prongs should not move or slip out once they are fully seated. Additionally, the outlet itself should be firmly anchored in the wall with no movement when plugging and unplugging. If plugs or receptacles feel loose, it’s time for Service America to replace the outlet before a dangerous short or shock occurs.
Forced: For safety, the prongs on today’s electrical devices are designed – one wider than the other – to fit into a receptacle in one direction only. Modern outlets always match this profile, but many older receptacles offer prong slots that are the same size. Resist the urge to file down the prongs on devices or purchase a converting plug. Instead, replace that old outlet promptly; it’s the only safe option in this situation.
Are your electrical outlets overstuffed, overloaded, tired or forced? Service America’s very experienced and highly qualified electricians solve all four issues safely and quickly.