7 Signs It’s Time to Upgrade Your Electrical Outlets

December 3, 2018

damaged electrical outlet






Home electrical fires, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, account for about 51,000 fires each year and more than $1.3 billion property damage.

Of course, a large number of the reason for this is that many of us ignore the tell-tale signs our electrical outlets and appliances give us. Well, actually, there are quite a number of us who don’t know these signs and can’t read the obvious handwriting on the wall.

Knowing the signs to look out for is going to help stop a lot of emotional stories. There are a handful of those signs actually. We’ll be laying out seven of the most important ones for you.

1. If it Smells Bad, Then it’s Probably Bad

When you buy a new appliance, it may give off a few off-odors the first few times you power it up. This is okay. However, when you begin to perceive one of those off-odors on your old appliances – something that wasn’t there before – then know that something smells ‘fishy’. This may be a sign that you need to do something quick about your electrical outlets.

But first, maybe you need to quickly turn off the outlet, unplug anything connected to it, and have a qualified electrician have a look over for you (You can find one here).

2. Not All That Sparks Is Gold

When you see sparks coming from your appliances or electrical outlet, know that this is danger! A sparking appliance, of course, may mean that the appliance itself is smashed. That would only require that you take it to an appliance repair shop. The thing about this, however, is that the spark may have been caused by a defective electrical outlet – in which case you should contact a qualified electrician.

3. Too Many (Extension Cords) is Bad For the Eye

Too many wires create an unpleasant interlocking that will lead to a situation where your cords may kink or get pinched. This is one of the leading causes of tripped breakers, damaged outlets or even a fire.

According to William Burke of the National Fire Protection Association, “an undisturbed wiring system will more or less work forever. But when it’s disturbed or altered, there’s potential for trouble.”

Come to think of it too, this is one of the reasons why electric wires are concealed within walls. Other than for safety issues, they also add to the aesthetic beauty of our homes.

Extension cords are supposed to be used sparingly and only for short periods of time. When you find yourself needing more outlets in your home, then it is time to contact a qualified electrician and upgrade your electrical outlets.

4. Buzz. Buzz. Buzzing

If you can’t see the warning signs that your electrical outlets need an upgrade, you may still be able to hear it.

Listen out for the sound that your outlets make when they are connected. Silence and lack of whirring or buzzing may mean that your outlets are satisfied with the nature of things generally.

When you hear buzzes coming out, that is literally your electrical outlet sending out an SOS! Refraining from using that outlet is the safe way to avoid a backlash on your appliances or even prevent a fire.

5. Dimming or Flickering lights

When your light fittings dim or flickers the moment you plug in a high power appliance, don’t sleep on it.

Usually, the light in your own homes should only require a small amount of power. A dim or flickering situation could be caused by a high-power appliance (say a washing machine) being connected to the same circuit with your light fittings.

This shouldn’t be happening.

It means that your outlets are not compatible with the amount of charge you’re putting on them. You may have to find an electrician that would help you upgrade and move your big appliances to different circuits or have separate lines installed for major appliances.

6. The Heat Must Come From The Right Place

For appliances like toasters or hot plates, the heat should be on the appliance- not the outlet!

While a little warmness on the switch plate is still okay, an unusual heat or hotness is a sign that all is not well.

You may turn this off and try it in another outlet. What if this still doesn’t help? What if you also find out that you have some outlets that get hot even when no appliance is plugged to them?

You may have to flip the breaker or remove the fuse for that outlet pending the moment that you swiftly contact an electrician.

7. When Fuses Blow Away and Breakers Are Tripped

Circuit breakers and fuses are like a kind of safeguard for your appliances to prevent an overload.

If you find that an appliance regularly trips a breaker regardless of the the outlet it is plugged to, the problem must be with the appliance.

However, when fuses are blown by a single outlet, it most likely means that the circuit is overloaded and you may have to call a qualified electrician about an outlet upgrade.

Why You Shouldn’t Sleep on Getting an Electrical Upgrade

Safety is very important. Don’t ignore any of the signs above or delay an upgrade. The consequences of a constantly overloaded circuit breaker can be costly and hazardous.

Perhaps the least concern of this is that you can end up causing damage to your home’s electrical wiring, an outlet or one of your high-end appliances and devices.

Worse, you run the risk of electrical arcing, serious electric shock, and fire caused by a worn-out or malfunctioning electrical outlet.

None of the consequences are savory when they can be avoided. Whenever you notice the sign above or anything unusual, call in a qualified electrician as soon as you can.

How to Do a Quick Outlet Installation

You may think you have the expertise to run a quick fix for your faulty electrical outlets. It is not something that difficult (or maybe it is if you don’t have the know-how). If you want to do this yourself, take the following steps:

  • Turn off the power at the circuit breaker or fuse.
  • Remove the existing outlet.
  • Prepare the circuit cable.
  • Strip and identify the wires.
  • Install the pig-tail wires.
  • Connect the ground wire.
  • Connect the neutral and the hot wires.
  • Mount the outlet and place the GCFI into the wall box.
  • Install the cover plate.

Self-Help Doesn’t Help Sometimes.

While there are some electrical problems you can handle yourself, there are a host of others that you can’t. Don’t leave the quality of your electrical outlets and appliances to chance!

Ensure you get in touch with a qualified, licensed electrician. You can get in touch with one now at Right Electrical Services, LLC. Give us a call today to discuss your home electrical service and electrical repair needs at 919-359-1017 or submit an online request to schedule service.  We are your certified, licensed, and insured Raleigh electricians who guarantee a job done right the first time. Let us help you… “Do it the Right way”!


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10 Replies to “7 Signs It’s Time to Upgrade Your Electrical Outlets”

  1. I never knew that home electrical fires account for 51,000 fires per year! My husband and I have been living in an older home for the past few years, and we’re starting to worry about the electrical wirings and outlets since we can smell an electrical type of odor sometimes. We definitely want to avoid an electrical fire, so hopefully we can find a great electrician in our area who can help us decide what needs to be replaced. Thanks for the information!

  2. I’m glad that you mention how if your circuit breakers are trips and fuses blow then it’s good to check out the outlet to see if there’s a problem. You could also check out the panel for any issues. When doing this, it would probably be a good idea to work with an electrician that is experienced with circuit breaker panel services so they can check for issues and either fix the problem or install a new one to ensure that it works.

  3. I like the point you made about if it smells bad then it’s probably a bad situation with an electrical outlet. I imagine if you let it go too long, it can turn into an electrical emergency. Then you might have to pay extra for an electrician, so it’s good to just get professional help with issues before they get that bad. https://currentelectricco.com/electrical-emergencies/

  4. My favorite thing about this article was when you mentioned that if your light fittings dim or flickers when you plug in another appliance, you should probably contact an electrician. The other day I was visiting my parents and when I plugged in the toaster to make some toast, I noticed the kitchen light started to flicker. In my opinion, they should contact a professional service to get it fixed and be safer in their own home. http://www.etheridgeelectric.com

  5. It’s interesting to know that if you notice an unusual odor on your old appliances, that may be a sign that you need to do something about your electrical outlets. My brother noticed that the electrical installation on his new apartment looks damage, and we are looking for advice. I will call an electrician to help my brother with that problem to prevent any problems that may occur. http://goslingelectrical.com/commercial/

  6. I liked the point that not all sparks are gold – it somehow doesn’t only apply to electricity but with life in general 😀 But back to the topic, it’s a scary sign! Indeed will need the help of a professional, but also the owner should always try to practice ways that would prevent such extent to happen, because not a single emergency doesn’t make one’s heart beat a little faster. Thanks for this! Love your blogs actually. A colleague recommended me this site and it’s great.

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  7. Thanks for pointing out that if your lights are dimming or flickering when you plug an appliance in that’s probably a sign that your outlets aren’t working well for how much electricity you need. I noticed the other day that when I plugged my iron in to iron some clothe for work the next day my lights got dimmer and wouldn’t brighten again until I was done. I’ll have to look into hiring an electrician that can help fix that problem so that I don’t end up short circuiting my electrical system just trying to do household chores. https://www.servallelectric.com/service-areas/cincinnati-oh-electrician

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