Common Electrical Outlet Problems
In today’s world, almost everything in a home uses electricity. We flip a switch or plug in an item. “Voilà,” it works. A properly functioning outlet is essential for the electric current to flow properly to power appliances and devices in our homes. Our small appliances are essential for making coffee and cooking. We are at a loss if our entertainment items are unable to work. Everything usually works fine until you experience electrical outlet problems. Many people encounter electrical outlet problems and should know warning signs that could lead to a hazardous situation.
Electricians are asked these question quite often:
- Why did my outlet suddenly stop working?
- Is this a dangerous situation?
- Is it just the outlet or my home wiring system?
In order to give a correct response, the electrician needs to do an inspection. Until an electrician arrives, it is a good idea to leave the outlet alone, and turn off the circuit in your electrical panel box that sends electricity to that panel.
Causes of Common Electrical Outlet Problems
Sometimes one or a combination of factors may lead to electrical outlet problems that need to be addressed. These factors include:
- Age – Over time outlets and their connections become worn, creating faulty electrical connections.
- Amount of usage – An outlet that receives heavy usage tends to experience problems earlier than one that is rarely used.
- Quality of materials – Most outlets are made of plastic, but differences in material quality can impact how the outlet functions.
- Overloaded circuits – Since there are so many electrical devices in a house, your circuit can easily get overloaded. This definitely produces electrical problems with your outlets and in your wiring system.
Symptoms of Common Electrical Outlet Problems
Malfunctions from electrical outlets cause house fires each year. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, many of these fires are preventable. If you notice these common electrical outlet problems, then you know that you need to consult with a residential electrician for a home inspection.
Buzzing sound at or near an outlet
- Burning smell
- Loose switch plates
- Cracks in the outlet
- Hot switch plates
- Sparks from the outlet
- Blown fuses
These symptoms indicate that there are issues with your electrical outlets. Sparks from the outlet and burning smells are problems that require immediate action. Promptly addressing common electrical outlet problems can prevent further damage to your wiring system and possibly eliminate the danger of a house fire.
Basic Troubleshooting and Safety Issues
Troubleshooting does not mean trying to diagnose and repair an outlet. These suggestions are a few common sense approaches to determine if you need a professional.
Sometimes, the problem is not the outlet at all, but it may be the item you are using. The safest way to check to determine if the outlet or the small appliance or device is not functioning correctly is to plug the machine into another outlet. If it works, then you know that the outlet is experiencing a problem.
An often overlooked place to check for problems is the top and bottom sections of an outlet. Sometimes the top half works and the bottom does not. Plug something in each section to be sure the entire outlet is working correctly. If you discover that only one part is functional, then you do not need to use that outlet at all. This is a clue that it needs to be replaced by an electrician.
Check to see that a breaker is not tripped due to a power surge. A switch that trips often is another warning sign.
One of the most important methods to use is preventive maintenance. Use a home safety electrical checklist. As a homeowner, you need to be sure that your home is a safe place. A good recommendation is to go through the checklist at least every 6 months. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends having an electrician inspect your home for electrical problems every 10 years. An excellent place to record the time of inspection is inside your electrical panel box. This allows for common electrical outlet problems to be readily identified, repaired, and/or updated.
When it comes to electrical outlet issues, troubleshooting refers to checking not repairing. This is a job for a qualified electrician!
Electricity powers our lives with comfort and convenience, but do not forget how powerful and dangerous it is. If you experience any type of electrical outlet problems, please contact a certified electrician! Contact them to assess and repair any problems. Consider it as a life-saving opportunity and a home investment. Making any type of repair or installation that puts you in contact with electricity is not a DIY project. Call Mister Sparky NWA electricians today.
Mister Sparky Electrician NWA, America’s On-Time Electrician in Bella Vista, Bentonville, Rogers, Springdale and Fayetteville services the Northwest Arkansas area with a team of licensed electricians. In addition to flickering lights, some of the electrician services provided by the company include electrical outlet/switch repair, ceiling fan installation, lighting installation, aluminum wiring repair, landscape lighting installation and home electrical inspections.