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When to Update Old Electrical Outlets

Think about the last time you had to plug something into one of the electrical outlets. Did you notice any sparks coming out of the outlet? Did the lights flicker? These might be signs it’s time to update old electrical outlets. A Lowell electrician can easily replace old electrical outlets and bring your home’s electrical system up to code.

1. Outlet Sparks When You Plug In

Don’t ignore an outlet that sparks whenever you try to plug something in. This is a fire hazard that needs to be taken seriously before it causes an electrical fire. A sparking electrical outlet could be a sign that there’s a short circuit or the outlet is simply getting too old. Be sure to let your electrician know if your home has water damage as this can also cause outlets to spark.

2. Lights Flicker

You might be overloading the circuit breaker if you notice the lights flicker immediately after plugging something into the outlet. If this is the case, your home’s electrical system isn’t able to keep up with the energy demands of your household, causing the lights to flicker. Overloaded circuit breakers are common after installing new major appliances.

As a safety measure, your home’s circuit breaker is designed to shut off when the demand for electricity exceeds its safety parameters. When the circuit breaker is quickly reaching maximum capacity, it can cause the lights to flicker. Since this is a fire safety issue, you’ll want to call an electrician as soon as possible.

3. Outlet Covers are Cracked

While cracked outlet covers may seem like just a cosmetic issue, they serve a function by keeping dirt, dust, and other debris out of the outlet. If you notice cracking along the outlet covers, call a licensed electrician to inspect the outlet. The contractor may determine that you’ll need to replace the electrical outlets entirely if dust caused damage to the electrical system.

4. Outlets Aren’t Grounded

A grounded electrical outlet will have three prongs. It’s important that electrical outlets be grounded. Otherwise you could risk getting a life-threatening electric shock. A three-pronged outlet prevents electrical shocks from appliances encased in metal.

For example, a three-pronged outlet protects you if a loose wire touches the metal case, so that the electricity flows straight into the ground as opposed to electrifying the metal surfaces of your refrigerator. Two-pronged electrical outlets are outdated and should be replaced for safety reasons as soon as possible.

5. You Have Small Children

Children have been known to stick sharp objects into electrical outlets, which is why it’s always a good idea to install childproof outlets. Tamper-resistant electrical outlets are designed to prevent an item from being stuck into only one of the prong holes.

However, if you were to plug in an appliance, you won’t be met with the same resistance because equal force would be applied by all prongs. Childproof electrical outlets only cost a few pennies more than other outlets, making them an affordable choice for growing families.

6. Your Outlet Can’t Handle the Voltage

Modern technology requires more voltage than old outlets can provide. Even if your outlets don’t look visibly worn, you should consider replacing them if you know they’ve been installed for quite some time. Putting too much stress on old outlets will cause them to wear out faster.

7. You Don’t Have Any GFCI Outlets

Older houses might not be equipped with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets in the bathrooms and kitchens, but it’s important to upgrade to GFCI in order to stay up to code. These outlets prevent an electric shock in case an appliance makes contact with water, which is more likely to happen in the kitchen or bathroom than in other rooms of your house.

Want to Learn More?

The Lowell electricians at Flat River Electric are dedicated to helping homeowners like you improve the safety of their homes. If you are interested in learning more about our childproof outlets or electrical outlet replacement services, give our electricians a call at (616) 987-0596.

[This blog post has been updated.]

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    Google Reviews

    Missy Cummings
    Missy Cummings

    5 out of 5 stars

    posted 2 weeks ago

    Our technician, John, was absolutely amazing!! He was able to find out our electrical issue in no time. Instead of just saying it's fixed and leaving, he wanted to check our electric panels and some additional outlets that may be causing the original issue. There was no hesitating on the service price as it was completely reasonable. Awesome service all the way around. Would highly recommend!

    Mark Rocheleau
    Mark Rocheleau

    5 out of 5 stars

    posted 2 months ago

    New to the area and Flat River Electric was able to work with my panel to add some new services, and a whole home surge protector. John handled the unforeseen circumstances with such professionalism, and they kept to their original quote. This team truly loves what they do, and take pride in educating the homeowner! They are now my go-to service electricians

    Jacob Carter
    Jacob Carter

    5 out of 5 stars

    posted 1 month ago

    I hired Flat River to do a full re-wire of my house in order to replace old knob & tube.

    Mike, Caleb, and the rest of the crew were responsive, quick, thorough, and respectful of my home. Being such a big job some unexpected challenges arose, but Flat River handled them all in a very professional manner.

    I would happily recommend them for any job!