Electrical outlets take a lot of abuse. All that plugging and unplugging takes a toll. Like anything mechanical, they eventually wear out or become outdated due to changes in the electrical code.

Here’s how to tell if your outlets have outlived their usefulness.

Is it Time To Replace Your Outlets?

Worn-out slots: Outlets are designed to firmly grip the hot and neutral prongs on the electrical cord. Over time, the slots become loose. If the plugs easily fall out, that’s a problem: wobbly receptacles pose an electrical hazard.

Loose wire connections: Wires expand and contract as they draw electricity. These micro-movements eventually loosen the screws, resulting in an audible crackle and tripped circuit breakers.

Improper rating: Receptacles are rated for a specific amperage — typically 15 or 20 amps for standard household circuits. A 20-amp receptacle is designed for major appliances that draw a lot of power and have a slot that looks like an inverted “T.” Problems occur when a 20-amp outlet is connected to a 15-amp circuit. Plugging in a power-hungry appliance will overload the 15-amp receptacle, resulting in a tripped circuit breaker. That’s a best-case scenario; an electrical fire is also possible.

No AFCI/GFCI protection: Electrical code requires that all outlets in living spaces include an arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI). When an AFCI detects an errant electrical current, it breaks the circuit to prevent an electrical fire. Frayed, damaged, or overheated wiring can cause an arc fault.

Similarly, a ground fault circuit interrupter is required in all locations where water is present to prevent a shock hazard.

AFCI and GFCI both have reset buttons in the middle of the receptacle.

Not UL certified: A quality outlet will have the seal approval from the Underwriters Laboratory. That means the device was tested to meet stringent safety requirements to prevent shock and electrical fires. Cheap, imported products will not have the UL mark and pose a safety hazard.

Turn to the St. George Area Electrical Pros

If you have any concerns about the condition of your electrical outlets, reach out to HedgeHog Electric. We can perform an electrical inspection of your home and recommend repairs for anything that presents a risk to your safety. To schedule your appointment, call (866) 605-2113.