It takes a very conscientious homeowner to think about wall outlets when they're not causing you any problems. But if you've stopped to think about how much use your outlets have been getting for years on end, it may occur to you that they could need replacement when they inevitably wear out. Some outlets wear out faster than others because they're used more frequently, and some outlets may need replacing if they become damaged or outdated. Here are three reasons to replace your electrical outlets.
1. Lack of GFCIs
A GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet is an essential safety feature for the modern home. Although these outlets were only developed a few decades ago, they're now required by building code in many areas of the house. These include your kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, mudroom, garage, and any outdoor outlets, as well as other areas that might contain high humidity or water hazards. The GFCI outlet protects you from water-related electrical shock by shutting off the power to the outlet almost instantly when it senses that too much power is being drawn. If your house is old enough that it contains no GFCIs, you should certainly upgrade for your own safety.
2. Cracked, too-small, or burned plates
You've probably seen cracked outlet covers before and thought nothing of it. But these damaged plates can actually present a serious safety hazard. Dust can collect in gaps and cracks if the plate is damaged or too small for its hole. This dust then provides great kindling for an electrical fire and even increases the chances of short circuits. So unless you want to invest in a high-powered vacuum cleaner with a tiny nozzle to keep these cracks free of dust, you should probably go ahead and replace the faceplates. But if the faceplate looks like it's been damaged by electrical means (for example, if it appears melted or has a blackened area) you need to replace the entire outlet.
3. Worn out
A worn-out outlet may just stop working altogether (or suddenly start a fire). But if you don't want that to happen, you should keep an eye on your most heavily used outlets so you'll notice when their age starts to show. An old outlet that's starting to wear out will begin to hold electrical plugs more loosely and may allow them to wiggle easily when they're plugged in. If you notice that an outlet is getting looser and looser, it could be a sign that it's wearing out, so it's probably best to replace it before it can malfunction.
These three signs help you determine whether any of the outlets in your home require upgrading or replacing. Check over your outlets periodically to make sure they're not damaged or wearing out, and if you find signs that they are, call a certified electrical company like Skyline Electric, Inc. for advice.