When an electrical outlet doesn’t work it can be frustrating to say the least. But why do outlets fail? If some outlets in your Kirland home aren’t working, it may be time to replace them.
About Electrical Outlets
Outlet wires typically last anywhere from 50-70 year. However, there is more to consider than just the lifespan of those wires. Frequency of use, insulation, and superficial damages all factor into how long an electrical outlet will last. For example, an outlet that is chipped or damaged should be changed immediately, since a damaged outlet can be a fire hazard (especially if fires are exposed). With electrical disruptions accounting for 50% of house fires annually, checking your outlets is crucial to mitigating risk and keeping your home safe.
Why Do Electrical Outlets Fail
There are several reasons why an electrical outlet might fail and need replacement. There are four common reasons why this happens:
- Switched plugs. In many houses, rooms without overhead lights may have been build with a switch that controls some or all of the outlets in the room. If this switch isn’t turned on, outlets connected won’t have any electricity flowing to them.
- Incompatible Device for House’s Wiring. There are two primary types of metal wiring available nowadays. Copper wires are durable and strong, while aluminum is brittle, breakable, and resistant to electricity. This resistance can build up heat in the outlet. Over time, this can cause wires to burn up. The type of wiring in your house (copper vs. aluminum) can dictate how long an electrical outlet will last.
- Misplaced Wire Nut. Wire nuts are used cover wires. If a previous electrician used a wire nut to connect wires it could be what is causing problems with inner wiring. These problems keep outlets from functioning properly.
- Backstabbed wiring. This is one of the most common issues. Plugs and switches should be wired by curling the wire around the screw and tightening that screw. Backstabbing (the wrong way) means that the wires are pushed into a connector instead of curled and screwed. Backstabbed wiring creates a loose connection, which can ruin a circuit and burn up wires in the outlet.
Electrical Outlet Maintenance
One thing you can do that can help prolong the longevity of your outlets is routine maintenance. It’s a good idea to check your outlets monthly using an outlet tester. You can find one at any hardware store! Using an outlet tester is easy. Simply insert the tester (it will have three prongs and will plug in like any other item) into the outlet. The tests will alert you to any issues with that outlet wiring.
Things to Consider Before Replacement
Before you call an electrician to come and replace an outlet receptacle, make sure that the problem isn’t with the item(s) plugged in first. If the lamp, charger, or other item you have plugged in isn’t working, try plugging it into another outlet you know will (preferably one with something else already plugged in). If the item still doesn’t work, the issues could possibly be with that item and not with the outlet itself.
Need your outlet(s) replaced? Let our team at Lifetime Heating and Cooling take care of it for you!