Sometimes in life, there are clues, signals, and signs that warn us that something is probably — or in some cases, certainly — going to go wrong in the near future.
When we wisely heed these warnings, we always save money and time and reduce stress and risk. But when we ignore these warnings — usually because we’re too busy, or because we hope the problem will just “go away” on its own — we end up filled with regret and wish that we had a time machine.
The bad news is that, for the moment, there are no time machines available for purchase on Amazon or eBay. The good news is that when it comes to replacing your electrical outlets, you do not need to worry about turning back the clock. Instead, you can be proactive and repair or replace them now if any of the following apply:
- You have knob and tube wiring.As we have discussed previously, knob and tube wiring were installed in many homes between 1900-1950. And while it was once viewed as state-of-the-art technology, it is now widely considered as a safety risk. In fact, many insurance companies will not insure homes with knob and tube wiring, and many prospective home buyers will not even consider properties that have this antiquated wiring system.
- Your plugs are loose.While it should never be necessary to strenuously remove plugs from an outlet (i.e. it’s should be like playing tug-of-war with the wall!), plugs should not fall out with the slightest effort; or sometimes just fall out on their own. If this is happening with your outlet(s), then there is probably a loose connection that can lead to electrical arcing — and may cause a fire. Replacing them promptly should be your top priority. You have two-prong outlets.
- You have two-prong outlets.Two-prong outlets are not grounded, and as such represent both a safety risk to people and pets and can cause expensive (or irreparable) damage to appliances and electronics. Keep in mind that merely using a power bar with surge protection will not ground a two-prong outlet. The outlet itself must be replaced with a three-prong version, and the electrical panel must also be rewired. Note that only licensed electrical contractors in Ontario can perform the rewiring.
- Your outlets feel hot. Outlets that get hot to the touch are not operating within safe parameters. Most likely, this is the result of loose or damaged wires that should be repaired or replaced immediately. Note that defective outlets will cool down after a period when not in use. However, they will typically (though not always) show signs of discoloration from the excessive heat.
- You see, smell, or hear sparks.
If you see, smell, or hear sparks (it sounds like a crackling or popping noise), then you need to check and potentially replace your outlet(s) right away.
- Your GFCI outlets are no longer testing and/or resetting.
GFCI outlets are designed to automatically trip in the event of a fault or leakage to ground. However, if your GFCI outlets are not tripping when you press the “test” button, or are not tripping when you press the “test” button, or if they’re not resetting, then they need to be replaced.
To learn more about inspecting and (as necessary) repairing or replacing your outlets, contact Langstaff & Sloan today at 416.503.2033. We are one of the most trusted and respected electrical contractors in Ontario, everyone on our team is fully licensed and insured.