Electrical outlets that aren't working can be a pain when you're trying to charge your phone or plug in a lamp, but they can also represent an underlying wiring issue that could pose a safety risk to your home. There are a variety of reasons why your outlet may have stopped working. Understanding what those reasons are, how to fix them, and what dangers or risks that they may pose can arm you with knowledge so you can get your home's electrical system back in order again.
Sparking and Burning
One of the clearest indications that you need to get in touch with an electrician immediately is if you notice that there are burn or scorch marks around your electrical outlets. This is usually caused by sparking wires, which in turn are caused by stripped away insulation around those wires. Sparking wires can happen because of improper installation, damage from rodents, or other physical wear, and they are a serious safety hazard, as sparks flying out of an outlet can start a fire in your home.
Age and Wear
While burn marks are the most noticeable sign that your electrical outlets are in need of servicing or repair, another common and easy-to-spot sign of needed electrical work is the level of wear and age that your outlets have. Outlets are exposed to a great deal of physical stress, especially if things are constantly being switched out of the outlet instead of staying plugged in. Keep an eye on the face plate and screws, as well as the outlets themselves: any sign of exposed wiring, broken plastic, peeling paint, rust, or other signs of age and wear mean that you will likely need to have your outlet repaired or replaced by a professional. The risk of sparking, electrical fires, and simple physical degradation is just too high to delay this repair.
Finally, one of the most telling signs that you need professional electrical help is if your outlets are no longer powering the appliances that are plugged into them. If the fuse hasn't been tripped, it is likely that you have simply burned out the wiring, which is commonly caused by overloading an outlet by jamming multiple plugs into power bars. Replacing the outlet and the burned out wiring within is necessary to get the power flowing again. To prevent burning out other outlets, be sure to spread your plugs out as much as possible.Share