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How Safe Are Your Electrical Outlets?

by Hickerson Brothers on June 1, 2018

As a homeowner, you should have some knowledge on the safety of your electrical outlets. Electrical outlets are one of the main ways you interact with your electrical system. And unfortunately, they can experience potentially dangerous issues, sometimes resulting from age or incorrect use. Without knowing basic safety procedures, you could be at higher risk of damaging appliances, receiving shock, or even causing an electrical fire.

If you’re wanting to improve electrical safety for your Catlett home, Hickerson Brothers recommend first answering this question: how safe are your electrical outlets? We have provided some steps to help guide you:

Are Your Outlets in Good Condition?

As with any part of your electrical system, examining for damages is important. Outlets can run into various issues throughout their lifespan, some of which can have an impact on your electrical safety. Issues such as frayed wires, loose box screws, or exposed casing can all lead to unstable electrical currents. To help check if these issues are present, examine your outlets for any of these symptoms:

  • Burn Marks and Burning Smell Coming from an Outlet
  • Outlet Emits Sparks
  • Sizzling Sound and Vibration Coming from an Outlet
  • Noticeably Exposed Outlet Casing
  • Outlets Feel Warm to the Touch

If an outlet is experiencing these symptoms, then it is deemed unsafe to use. You’ll need to contact Hickerson Brothers for further assessment.

Are Your Outlets Two-Prong or Three-Prong?

Residential electrical systems used have two-prong outlets as their main type of receptacle. It was considered the norm in older homes, but this is no longer the case. Unfortunately, two-prong outlets did not age well and are now considered a potential safety hazard. Three-prong outlets are now the recommended standard and are required by the NEC for newly-built homes. The reason being three-prong outlets utilize their third prong as a path for grounding.

Why is grounding important? Because it acts as a safe passage in the case of unstable electricity. During an event such as a short circuit, the ground wire is used to transfer high levels of electricity away from other wires. The ground wire is connected to a ground rod, which then dissipates any electricity. This helps prevent electrical shock, damages to plugged-in appliances, and electrical fires.

This is the main reason why two-prong outlets are considered less safe and outdated. If you have these in your home, we recommend consulting with Hickerson Brothers to determine if you can upgrade them to three-prong variants.

Are Your Outlets GFCIs?

GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets are a safe upgrade to conventional three-prong outlets. The reason being their defense mechanism, which protects against shock. GFCIs can shut-off or trip when the current is deemed dangerous. This helps protect you and your appliances during events such as short circuits or ground faults. According to the NEC, they are required to be placed in every bathroom, as well as the kitchen and garage in your home. But you can expand upon this requirement by upgrading all your outlets to GFCI. Doing so helps strengthen your electrical safety immensely, as you give your home higher protection against shock.

Follow our guide to help gain knowledge on the safety of your outlets. And contact Hickerson Brothers when you require an outlet replacement, repair, or upgrade. Give us a call at 703-594-3913 for affordable and quality outlet services from Catlett’s leading electrical experts.