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Do Outlets Go Bad? Insight from an Electrician

Properly functioning outlets are essential for safety and convenience in your home. However, when your outlet becomes discolored, loose, or otherwise compromised, you might begin to wonder if it has gone bad. Here at Bonney, our electricians often see outlets have become outdated and dangerous. Let’s take a closer look at outdated outlets and what you should do about them. 

Why Do Outlets Become Outdated? 

Technology is evolving constantly—which also changes our electrical needs. As such, electrical codes are continuously improved to accommodate new developments and promote electrical safety. Let’s take a closer look at some newer codes that your old outlets probably do not adhere to:

Tamper Resistance in Outlets

Outlet tampering is when an individual (often a child) sticks something inside an outlet that does not belong. According to the National Fire Protection Association, an estimated 2,400 children experience severe shocks and burns each year from outlet tampering. Outlets now require tamper resistance, which makes it safer for children in the home. These outlets are safeguarded by spring-loaded shutters that will not open for misshapen/damaged cords or objects that do not belong within the outlets. 

GFCI Protection Outlet Codes 

Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) protect against shock—especially in water source areas. These outlets are often found in bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, and outdoor areas. The GFCI technology can sense when a person is shocked and shut off the outlet power to prevent serious injury. GFCI protection is often not found in older homes, making updates essential to preventing electrocution and shock hazards. Even if you have GFCI protection, check to ensure your outlets are not outdated. GFCI outlets must be replaced every 10 years to maintain this protection.

AFCI Outlet Requirements

Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are protective devices that can prevent electrical fires. Have you ever accidentally tugged on a cord and jerked it out of the wall? In older homes and buildings, it may be followed by a visible spark in your outlet. This is an example of an electrical arc fault—when your current jumps a gap in the circuit due to sudden interruption, poor wiring, or corrosion. In older outlets, this spark can create a fire within the interior of the wall. AFCI receptacles can sense dangerous arc faults and interrupt the electrical flow to prevent fires.

Benefits of Outlet Updates

Thankfully, outlet updates come with several essential benefits for you to enjoy:

  • Convenience: Outlets are often strategically placed throughout your home to conveniently reach where you need them most: next to your bed for your phone chargers, behind your entertainment center for your television, in your bathroom for your hairdryer, etc. When an outlet becomes loose, inoperable, or outdated, you will lose the convenience it is designed for. 
  • Easier home resale: While new outlet standards are not a requirement when selling your home or building, a good inspector will note that your outlets are not up to code. As such, outlet updates can help make selling your home a little easier. 
  • Safety: Of course, safety is the top priority in any home or business. Outdated outlets present shock risks and fire hazards. You can circumvent these issues with proper outlet updates. 
  • Peace of mind: As a homeowner or business owner, you will want to know that your building is safeguarded against electrical hazards. An out-of-date outlet might raise concerns that you cannot shake without a replacement. Outlet updates can bring back your peace of mind. 
  • Protecting your technology: Older outlets present risks for you, your home, and the technology you plug into them. 

Signs You Need New Outlets

If you look closely enough, your house often tries to communicate issues with you before they become major problems. This extends to your outlets. Here are some signs of outdated outlets you can look for:

  • Burn marks: Over time, overwhelmed or worn-out outlets can begin to show burn marks. Look for yellow, brown, or black discoloration on your outlet plug. You might also see smoke when an outlet is plugged in. This is a sign that you should stop using the outlet immediately and have it replaced by a professional. 
  • Cracks: Breaks and cracks in the plastic of your outlet face can lead to shock risks and fire hazards.
  • Loose outlets: If you notice a cord falling out soon after you plug it in, this is a sign you need outlet replacements. 
  • Outdated: Outlets without grounding will have two-prong openings instead of three. These are outdated models that will prevent the usage of lots of modern technology. 

When any signs of needed outlet replacement emerge, contact a professional electrician in your area for support. For those in and around Sacramento, Bonney is here for you.

Bonney Outlet Updates in the Sacramento Area

When you are due for an outlet update, you can make an appointment with the local technicians at Bonney. We proudly serve the electrician service needs of the greater Sacramento area, including Rancho Cordova, Carmichael, Roseville, Sacramento, Citrus Heights, Folsom,  Gold River, Fair Oaks, Vacaville, Natomas, La Riviera, Rosemont, and beyond! Not sure if you need new outlets? Our experts will check the safety of your home each year with the Bonney Beyond annual electrical inspection. You can make your appointment here online to get started today!