Like anything, electrical outlets can get worn out and need updating from time to time. Poor electrical outlet maintenance and faulty wiring are the most common causes of electrical fires. And there are always advancements in safety being made. It’s not that long ago that houses were equipped with two-pronged outlets!
When it comes to doing any actual wiring or dealing with electricity, we advise that you call in a professional. You might do more damage, create more dangerous problems, or put yourself in harm’s way if you are inexperienced in this field.
With that in mind, here are some electrical outlet safety tips.
Perform an inspection
Some outlets get more use than others. Some are hidden behind a couch and forgotten about, others have one appliance plugged in and are otherwise left untouched. And then there are those that have electronics and devices constantly plugged in to and pulled out of all day long.
Especially in the high use outlets, take a close look to see how it’s performing. Are there ever any sparks that occur when you plug something in? Does an energy consuming gadget (like a toaster or hairdryer) cause the circuit to break or the lights to dim when you use it?
If you notice an electrical outlet is behaving in any way less than perfect, it’s a good idea to take a closer look. It might be time to update the outlet or call an electrician to inspect the wiring behind the wall.
If you live in an older home, it’s even more important to update or inspect your electrical outlets. In the past, people didn’t use as much electricity, nor were their devices as energy consuming as ours are today.
You might find that you are overloading your system. Or perhaps you are using a power bar to add to the electrical capacity of your home or to be able to use three-pronged devices. If this is the case, you might want to call in a licensed electrician to go over your options. They might advise updating old two-pronged outlets or even adding several more outlets in convenient places around your home.
Fix any damage
Over time, electrical outlets and the surrounding area will show signs of wear and tear. For example, there might be cracked drywall surrounding the outlet, or the outlet doesn’t sit right if it wasn’t installed correctly.
You might need to simply patch some cracks, or it might mean a larger home improvement job. Depending on how capable you are with DIY fixes, you might need to call in an electrician to help make sure any damage is repaired correctly.
If you have children at home, or have any concern that your wiring might be outdated, take every precaution. In the past, plastic plugs were used to keep kids from jamming things into them. New outlets have safety features built in that were non-existent 20 years ago. So it’s worth it to update your electrical outlets or at least assess your options.
This goes for outdoor outlets as well. Ensure that the covers are secure to prevent rainwater from seeping in, and that they are clear of debris. This is a good idea to do each spring, specially if the outlets haven’t been used much over the winter.
We don’t always consider the important electrical outlets play in our lives. They are the gate keeper between our power-hungry lives and the actual power that feeds us. Electrical outlets have a big job to do, so do your part and make sure they are in proper working condition.
If you have any questions, at BPM we are always happy to help.