If your electrical outlets are old, worn and possibly unsafe, it's time for modern outlet replacements. Electricity is easy to take for granted - we just plug in an appliance and think no more about it - but electricity also carries a risk of serious injury. Check these guidelines and speak to an experienced electrician to find out if your outlets should be replaced.

Electrical Outlets

Electrical outlets are also called sockets and receptacles, and they connect plugs to the electricity that runs through wires in the walls of homes. Electricity can cause serious shocks and fires when outlets are unsafe or used inappropriately. To reduce the risks, they often include a grounding wire to reroute the electricity safely away when there is a fault. In most homes, outlets are three-prong and grounded, but older homes sometimes contain two-prong, ungrounded outlets, according to Realtor Mag.

Outlet Safety Checklist

PBS provides some useful advice on checking the safety of the outlets in your home. You should replace an outlet immediately if:

  • It doesn't hold a plug firmly
  • It is cracked or broken in any way
  • It sparks or makes a noise when you insert or remove a plug
  • The faceplate is broken
  • The faceplate feels hot
  • The outlet has become discolored due to heat

The University of Nevada, Reno, offers more tips on when it's time to have new outlets installed.

  • Never change a three-pronged plug on an appliance so that it fits a two-pronged receptacle.
  • Replace regular outlets near sinks and other water sources with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets, which prevent dangerous shocks if electricity and water come in contact.
  • Don't use multi-way plug adapters and extension leads permanently. If you don't have enough outlets, book an electrician to install more.
  • Insert socket covers wherever children have access to outlets or have tamper resistant outlets installed. The tamper resistant outlets are now required by the National Electrical Code to enhance safety.

Only an experienced, professional electrician can tell you if your outlets are unsafe, but you should check them regularly for warning signs. If you have any concerns at all, or if you're remodeling and want your outlets to match your new decor, contact a Ragsdale adviser.

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