Five Signs You Need to Replace Your Electrical Outlets
A safe home is everyone’s dream haven. Ideally, your dwelling is a place where danger isn’t allowed to enter. However, as a responsible homeowner it is imperative that you safeguard every inch of your abode to the best of your ability. If not harnessed correctly, electricity can be a foe instead of the illuminating friend we rely on. Toward that end, we’ve included a list of what to look for in terms of protecting your home and more importantly when to replace your electrical outlets for maximum safety.
1. Home is equipped with two-prong outlets
A quick scan of your outlets will answer this question. The National Electrical Code or NEC, made grounded three-prong outlets a requirement in 1965. NEC though not the federal law is a part of the National Fire Codes series under the National Fire Protection Association, NFPA. The aim of NEC is to ensure a standard of safe electrical practices. Grounding an outlet refers to having a direct circuit path back to the actual earth or ground for extra current. This is what makes the third prong necessary. Two pronged outlets are known as being polarized. If there is a short in the wire, or excessive current due to a faulty appliance or for any reason, the chances of an electrical fire are greater in a two pronged circuit system since the excess or misdirected current has no way to travel to a neutralizing port – the ground.
It is critical to check for two pronged outlets quickly and if any are found schedule an electrician visit immediately to have the outlets updated.
2. Outlets have significant wear and tear
This is a point that many people overlook or put at the bottom of their to-do list. Signs of significant wear and tear include worn outlets. If inserted cords do not fit snugly in the receptacle. If the cords slip out easily or are hanging out of the outlet, there is a chance that excess or even the proper voltage current may not have the proper channel in which to flow due to ill-fitted prongs.
Other signs of wear and tear include broken plate covers that expose the electrical outlet mechanism. Paint or other decorative substances inside the outlet pose another risk. To ensure safety, outlets that are exhausted from years of use need to be replaced as soon as possible.
3. Electrical outlets are not tamper resistant
If you look around your home and find that the outlets are not tamper resistant then it is a good chance you need to replace them. For over twenty years the NEC mandates require tamper resistant electrical outlets for the pediatric floors of hospital settings. Since 2008 NEC has required tamper resistant outlets on newly constructed residential dwellings. The tamper resistant outlets are manufactured with a shutter that only allows a two pronged plug into the receptacle to properly create a circuit. If a child attempts to put a foreign object into one of the receptacles the shutter will not open allowing for proper contact to connect the flow of electricity. Since many people do not live in a new construction it is important to speak with your landlord about the outlets in your abode.
4. Home is equipped with builder’s grade outlets
Builder’s grade or homeowner’s grade outlets are the least expensive outlets that can be purchased. It is a very good chance that if your home has been built by a contractor and you did not specifically request a higher grade outlet you have builder’s grade outlets installed in your home. If you are a renter again you should speak with your landlord regarding the outlets in use in your rented dwelling. Builder’s grade outlets are of an overall poorer quality and are designed to last for 5 to 10 years at most.
Not significantly more expensive are the better choice for residences which is commercial grade outlets. These outlets are built to last for one hundred years. Replace builder’s grade outlets with commercial grade. The third general type of outlet on the market is the hospital grade outlet. These outlets are very expensive and not typically recommended for residential use.
5. Outlets have ungrounded receptacles
Ungrounded receptacles are receptacles which are two pronged and have no way to channel electrical current to a ground or earth source. Replacing two pronged outlets with three pronged outlets will remedy the problem and provide safe outlets for your home. In addition to replacing the two-pronged receptacles it is necessary to have an electrician check your panel’s grounding source.
Keeping your home safe can start with a visual sweep and inspection of your electrical outlets. With a little thought and savvy you can quickly ascertain whether or not you need to replace your electrical outlets.
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