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When Should I Replace My Outlets?

When Should I Replace My Outlets?

And why do I need to?

I admit it – I take my outlets totally for granted.  I plug and unplug stuff into them heedlessly, and just assume they will always do their job – until they don’t.

 

There are a lot of really good reasons to replace your entire outlet (and not just the cover), whether you choose to do-it-yourself, or call in a professional electrician (like Swartz Electric).  The really important ones are big – such as having a fire in the outlet or its wiring; but there are minor reasons why you might like to replace or upgrade your outlets – such as sparking when you plug in or unplug, or the outlets having trouble holding onto the prongs of your plugs.  This happens most often with personal device charges and scented oil dispensers.

There are also some personal reasons – such as aesthetics, the appearance of your outlets, or even just because they are ‘upside down’.  Most people find the molded or shaped outlets helpful because when inserting a plug by feel with your fingertips or in the dark, they can help guide the prongs correctly in.

Another instance where it is important to consider replacing your outlets is if you don’t have a lot (or any) grounded outlets.  Using a couple of power strips throughout a home to provide extra protection for electronics is important, but equipping almost every outlet with one can be an indication that A) you need to consider installing more outlets and B) that you should get those outlets upgraded to grounded ones.  This is definitely a project worth calling an electrician for, since there could be any kind of unknown circumstances lurking behind your outlets.  What seems like a simple task – upgrading to grounded outlets – might lead to having to rewire an entire circuit, an entire electrical system, or worse.  Remember that the majority of your electrical system lives out of sight (and out of mind) behind walls, studs, and insulation – so don’t ever be afraid to call in an expert.

If your outlets spark, smoke, or make scary, dangerous sounds, smells, and light displays then you definitely need to call in an electrician.  These problems could be way more complicated than just an older or worn-out outlet.

If you are replacing your outlets – or notice that yours are mounted ‘upside down’, keep in mind that in residential electrical code there is no requirement for which way they are to be mounted.   While they are required to be upside down in hospital settings and some commercial installations, different parts of the country also have localized rulings; California requires half-hots, or ‘switched outlets’ – where one half of the outlet is controlled by a switch – to be mounted upside down for easy identification.  Some electricians believe that ground-up is a safer installation, since it will protect falling metal from catching on exposed prongs and arcing, sparking, smoking, or starting a fire.  In a hospital or commercial environment with metal plate covers, this can be a huge hazard – but not necessarily in your home.  Upside down installations are also popular in garages, workshops, or sheds, since extension cords have more support and less stress or tension for extended usage when upside down.

Don’t hesitate to call Swartz Electric to help you replace, upgrade, repair, or troubleshoot your outlets when this project becomes a priority!

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Swartz Electric – Your Colorado Springs Electrician performs electrical work throughout Colorado Springs, Monument, Black Forest, Fountain, Falcon, Woodland Park, and everywhere in between. We are the electricians in Colorado Springs to solve your electrical problems and meet your electrical requirements.

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This is an original article written by Mai Bjorklund for Swartz Electric. This article may not be copied whole or in part without the express permission of Swartz Electric, LLC.

© Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.

When Should I Replace My Outlets? was last modified: February 3rd, 2016 by Mai

2 Responses to When Should I Replace My Outlets?

  • Thanks for the advice on how to replace my old wall outlets. I think you made a great point about installing them ground-side-up in places like the garage. Those heavy duty plugs are easy to accidentally pull out of the wall if they are the other way around. I also want to add some extra outlets to my garage, but I think it would be best to call a professional for that job.

    • Mai says:

      Thank you, Kairi – we appreciate your feedback, and definitely encourage you to consult an expert. Electricity is a pretty serious science!

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