When & How to Fix Loose Outlets
Loose outlets are not only a nuisance, but can be a serious fire hazard if left unrepaired. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation (ESFI) home electrical fires account for over 50,000 fires a year, resulting in 500 deaths. Roughly 10% of those fires were caused by faulty electrical outlets. Considering that most of these fires could have been prevented with routine outlet maintenance, it makes the chore of fixing loose outlets more of a priority.
Let’s face it, one of the last things on our priority list is repairing loose electrical outlets around the house. Even pressure washing the deck sounds more appealing than fixing loose electrical sockets. As a homeowner, or even as a conscientious renter, it makes sense to be proactive about fixing faulty outlets. Replacing loose electrical outlets is a pretty simple DIY project or a fairly cheap house call to your electrician.
Warning Signs of Faulty Electrical Sockets
- Loose Outlets – Through the years the blades inside the outlet become loose and start to fall apart. While this seems like a minor inconvenience, as stated previously, it is a fire hazard. The bare blades emit extreme heat and when exposed to other materials can start a fire. If cords are falling out of outlets and they seem loose, it is time to replace the outlet.
- Having to Force a Plug into an Outlet – While this is common in older homes, it is wise to fix these outdated electrical outlets. Using force to plug something in only makes the situation worse and could exacerbate the issue.
- Outlets That Work Only Part of the Time – Do you have outlets that work one day, but not the other? Do not attempt to repair the outlet this yourself. This is actually a more complicated problem and should be looked at by a professional electrician.
Replacing a Loose Electrical Outlet
The main cause of loose outlets is damaged contact points. Over time the contacts simply wear out. This coupled with the heat and sparks that occur due to bad wiring can really snowball into a serious situation. The bottom line is you need to replace loose outlets and, while you’re at it, look for problems like burnt wires. Overall, the entire process should take about an hour.
Grab some safety gloves, a screwdriver with a rubber handle to prevent electrical shock, wire cutters/strippers, your replacement outlet, and off you go.
- To start, and this should go without saying, make sure to switch off the circuit breaker to the broken outlet.
- If you have access to a multimeter, this would be a good time to use it and double check that there is no electricity flowing to the outlet.
- Unscrew and remove the plastic housing in front of the actual outlet.
- Unscrew and remove the receptacle from its housing box.
- To detach the wires, loosen the terminal screws.
- STOP! If you see damaged, frayed wiring that appears melted or singed, call Express Electrical Services
- On the side of the wire stripper, there should be a gage that shows you how much wire to expose. Should be just enough to loop around the terminal screws. Be careful to not strip away too much.
- When it comes to wiring, it normally goes black wire to brass screw, and white wire to silver screw, and copper to green screw.
- When all wiring has been properly screwed into place, reattach the receptacle to the box and replace plastic covering. Switch on the breaker and test your switch.
Fixing loose outlets isn’t that tough of a home DIY project, but you may need added assistance. If you are feeling confused or are unsure, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional emergency electrician.
Contact Express Electrical Services
Express Electrical Services offer superior Los Angeles electrical repair services. We can be there at a moment’s notice. If you are experiencing electrical problems and need help, call us today. (805) 250-6397
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