How often do you think about your electrical outlets? If you’re like most Virginia, DC, and Maryland homeowners, chances are you don’t think about them often at all. Yet if your home was built a few decades ago, even as soon as the 1990s, you may have outdated electrical outlets that are putting your home at risk. Increased technology demands mean even fairly new homes can be outdated. Knowing when to replace electrical outlets isn’t easy, but the team at Kolb Electric wants to ensure you’re save. Here’s what you need to know.
Why Are Aging Outlets a Problem in DC Homes?
Old outlets are more than just an eyesore in your home. Even if you can’t see the problem, old outlets are putting your home at significant risk. Understanding the problem and the concerns it poses and knowing when to replace electrical outlets is an important part of keeping your home safe. Some of the problems that old outlets can cause include:
- Outlet and wire degradation – Outlets and the wires behind them can age in as little as five years. This can make them quite susceptible to harm. Over time, wires can settle, and this changes the way they make contact. If the changes are just right, they can cause sparking, arcing and fires. Even though this risk is small, you need to check your wiring every few years to be certain your home is safe.
- Outdated outlets – If your outlets are not capable of providing enough electricity for your electrical needs, or if they’re ungrounded (only have two holes instead of three), then your home is at risk. If you have ungrounded outlets or if your outlets can’t provide enough electricity for the demand of you current tech, then it may be time to replace them.
- Outlets that can’t keep up – Technology is changing at a rapid rate, and if you’re noticing problems like flickering lights or inconsistent power, it may be because the outlets and wiring can’t keep up with your current demand. Knowing when to replace electrical outlets is essential to protect your home.
Signs You Need to Replace Electrical Outlets in Your VA Home
So you can see why outdated outlets are a problem, but how can you be certain that you need an upgrade? Here are some signs and symptoms that indicate an upgrade is in order.
- Outlets are sparking or getting hot – This is a serious problem that means you need to upgrade your outlets right away. A sparking or hot outlet can quickly turn into a fire. Call Kolb Electric immediately if you’re having problems with hot outlets.
- Cracked outlet covers – If your outlet covers are cracked, it’s more than just a cosmetic issue. Those cracks allow dust and debris to get into your electrical systems. Changing the cover is good, but it may not be sufficient if the dust has caused damage. You’ll want to have the outlets inspected to ensure they don’t need to be replaced.
- Flickering lights – If the lights plugged into an outlet are flickering, it may be a sign that the outlet can’t keep up with demand. Let us inspect them to see if that’s the case.
- Two-pronged outlets – As already mentioned, two-pronged outlets mean the outlets aren’t grounded. This isn’t safe. Have these upgraded to protect your family.
- Non Working Outlets– If you residence has one or more outlets that are not working, this is not something to ignore. Call your local VA electrician and have it looked at. If one of your outlets is not working, it could mean there is more of a widespread issue and it can cause other problems within the residential electrical system.
- New Large Appliances- When purchasing a large appliance such as a new refrigerator, washing machine, or dishwasher, make sure it is safely useable by putting in a dedicated outlet.
- Old Home or Building- If your home or residential building still has all or some of the original outlets, these need to be replaced as soon as possible. Electrical outlets deteriorate as time progresses along with frequent usage. Time and wear to the electrical outlet combines which causes loose connections which are unsafe and function poorly. If you need outlets changed, then chances are your wiring is old too, so make sure to go ahead and get that old wiring replaced while you’re at it!
- Plugs Fall Out Easily- Electrical outlets have tiny springs in them and as they break down over time, the connections become les and less secure. When this happens you will need to replace them, not just for convenience but because this could lead to sparking or arcing.
- Outlet is Burnt- If the outlet feels hot when touching it, this can mean your outlet is burnt. There can be other signs of this such as black or brown coloring around the socket or areas that look scorched or melted. You will need to call for emergency electrical repair right away as burnt outlets indicate that the outlet has sparked which can be extremely dangerous.
- Outlet is Loose- Every now and then an outlet can feel loose or haver a loose connection when plugging something in. If this happens it’s because the outlet has been forced in and then was misaligned. Having a loose outlet can obstruct the electrical connection which can cause arcing, which makes an electrical fire a large risk.
If you’re noticing any of these problems, it’s time to call Kolb Electric for an inspection and advice.
Upgrading Appliances Means Upgrading Outlets
In addition to these common problems, you may need new or upgraded outlets if you’re adding some major appliances or upgrading your appliances in your home. Some of the appliances that could mean you need new outlets include:
- Microwaves – Older homes may to have enough power for a modern microwave. If your microwave is connected to the wiring for the exhaust fan, you may have a fire risk right in your kitchen. It’s better to call Kolb Electric and have a new outlet wired for the microwave.
- Portable air conditioners – “Window units” take quite a bit of power! Make sure that you have the right power supply. If you find that your portable air conditioner is constantly tripping your breakers, call us today to have a dedicated circuit and outlet installed.
- Washers and dryers – Washers and driers use quite a bit of energy and may require a special 4-wire circuit. Make sure you have an updated 4-wire circuit to run your washer and dryer.
- Computers – Make sure you have enough power and a dedicated outlet for your computer, so you aren’t at risk of blowing a fuse when someone turns on the blow dryer or vacuum while you’re working on the computer.
- Hot tubs – Hot tubs require dedicated outlets. If you’re considering investing in a hot tub, call Kolb Electric first so you can have an outlet wired for it.
If you have plans to add any of these to your home, contact the team at Kolb Electric. When can help you know when to replace electrical outlets so you’re prepared for your new addition. Our electricians will ensure your home is prepared for the addition, so you won’t have any problems or risks.
Need an Electrical Outlet Upgrade? Here Are Your Options
Do you need an outlet upgrade in your home? This isn’t a job to tackle on your own, but with the help of a skilled electrician, it’s not difficult at all. Here are some options you may wish to consider as you’re deciding when to replace electrical outlets:
- Swap ungrounded outlets for grounded outlets – Ungrounded outlets aren’t as safe as grounded ones, and grounded outlets are required for modern building code. If you have ungrounded outlets, make the switch for your safety.
- Upgrade the electrical panel – Upgrading outlets when the electrical panel can’t keep up is a waste of time. Make sure your home is safe and running well with an upgraded electrical panel.
- Install GFCIs – GFCIs, or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters, will cut of power to an outlet if the circuit is compromised, such as in a bathroom or kitchen when water gets into the outlet or in a high-use area where an overloaded outlet is possible. Consider installing these in areas where you’re at risk for problems to add a layer of safety.
Upgrade Your Electrical Outlets in Maryland, DC, and North Virginia with Kolb Electric
Are you wondering when to replace electrical outlets? The experts at Kolb Electric want you to be safe, and we have the right solutions to all of your outlet concerns. Contact our certified electricians for help today, and protect your family’s safety with upgraded electrical outlets.