Switches and outlets are the two parts of our electrical system with which we directly interact each and every day, often without thinking about it. Outlets provide us with a place to plug in and get access to the electrical energy running through our walls. Switches allow us to turn devices on and off quickly, safely and reliably. In fact, both of these important pieces of equipment are some of the most under-appreciated features in our entire home.
However, as with any other appliance or important component in our homes, our switches and outlets can eventually wear out. When they do, you’ll need to replace them as soon as possible in order to keep your home safe and the risk of a possible electrical fire to a minimum. However, many people don’t actually know when they need to make this replacement and it’s not uncommon to see people continuing to use electrical components which may be worn out or even dangerous.
Here are three signs that the time has come for you to replace a switch or outlet.
Plugs Falling Out with No Effort
Do you have one plug in your home which you can’t use because whatever you plug in simply falls right back out with little to no effort? This is because the metal electrical leads which grab hold of the posts on your plug have worn out and bent apart. Normally they grab hold of your plug and keep it in place via friction, but when they can’t grab the part i then there’s no friction to hold the plug in place. That’s also why these plugs tend to be intermittent or only work if you push the plug in a certain way.
These plugs can also be dangerous. With leads that don’t fully grab your plug, the electricity could still jump a very small gap and that could result in sparks which create a fire hazard. It’s both safer and more convenient if you replace these worn-out plug sockets as soon as possible.
Loud Cracking Sound or Visible Sparks
When you plug something into one particular outlet in your home, are you greeted by one loud cracking noise or a visible spark through the holes in the outlet itself? These are signs of a worn-out outlet that should be replaced as soon as possible. Sparks are caused by a number of different factors, but one of the most common is faulty grounding. That means your plug could be unsafe to use and the sparks could potentially light a fire if they’re able to catch a dried piece of material like dust or lint.
Feeling Warm to the Touch
Finally, a dead giveaway that you need to replace a switch or outlet is if the device feels warm to the touch. This means that the electricity flowing through the device is encountering a high amount of resistance. Resistance generates heat and heat leads to all sorts of problems. Wires which get too hot can melt plastic, burn up insulation and even spark fires in your home. This is by far the most serious sign of a worn-out switch or outlet and should be dealt with swiftly before the issue can build up into a potentially catastrophic disaster.
If you find one of your outlets or switches is inexplicably warm to the touch, immediately shut off the power to that particular switch or outlet at your circuit breaker. Bear in mind that while your outlet may feel warm to the touch for you, the wires and other components inside may be significantly hotter. Once you shut off the power, call us to come out and inspect the plug or outlet. While it’s not difficult to replace these, you want to make sure that the issue impacting your switch or outlet is properly identified or else your replacement may not actually solve the problem.
Got a problematic switch or outlet you need serviced? Leave it to the electricians from Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar by calling us at (408) 868-5500 today.