Electrical Outlets: Common Questions, Problems, and Solutions

Burning Outlet

Your home is a safe place to rest from the world. So, being aware of dangers like electrical hazards is necessary to keep your home secure and comfortable. To help you identify issues that need repair, we put together this list of common electrical outlet concerns and how to solve them.

Common Electrical Outlet Problems

Some signs of electrical issues seem commonplace and are even easy to forget or ignore. Consider this list and see if some of the signs look familiar.

  • Power surges. Power surges can result from faulty electrical wiring, malfunctioning appliances, or damaged power lines. While only lasting a small moment, recurring surges can severely damage your electrical system and appliances.
  • Switches that are hot to the touch. If you turn a light off or unplug an appliance and find that the switch or outlet is warm, this could be from damaged or poorly installed wiring, or a defective circuit or outlet.
  • Easily tripped circuit breaker.: A tripped circuit breaker is not a bad sign. It means your home is protected. However, tripping your breaker regularly indicates that the system cannot keep up with your appliances’ electrical demand. It could also mean that your wiring is damaged and leaking more energy than it should.
  • Too reliant on extension cords. Often seen in older homes, which have less emphasis on technology, having too few outlets forces you to minimize your use of electronics or rely heavily on extension cords. Occasional use with low-powered devices works, however, heavy use — especially with large appliances — easily spells a fire hazard.
  • Suffering electric shocks. A jolting sensation when you turn on a switch indicates the circuit may be too low for the appliance you are using, there is damage to the wiring, or it’s lacking a ground wire.

All the above issues are best solved with a call to a licensed electrician. The solutions can be anything from installing new wiring and circuits, to completely upgrading your electrical system.

Burning Electrical Questions

Not literally burning, of course. After all, the aim is to prevent electrical fires. However, to do that we can ask a handful of questions that can prevent shock and fire hazards.

  • What is the significance of ground wires? Most modern appliances have three prongs. The third, round prong connects to the ground wire, which serves as the ideal return path for the electricity to reach the ground after use. Without this alternate path offering less resistance, the electricity can jump and jolt through you to reach its destination.
  • What is a GFCI outlet? Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) track the electrical flow through the outlet and can instantly terminate the current to prevent electrocution. GFCI outlets are required in wet locations around the home: Kitchens, laundry rooms, bathrooms, and outdoors.
  • Can I improve my outlet safety? Simply put, yes. By replacing failing outlets and wiring, you can minimize fire hazards and upgrade to better safety standards. Rewiring to include ground wire and installing GFCI outlets add safety. You can also insert rubber stoppers in the outlets when not in use.
  • Why did my outlet die? While it could be the result of a faulty outlet, if there is no electricity in the outlet and no tripped breakers, check if you have a tripped GFCI. Even if it is in a different room or even on a different floor, the interrupter could be blocking the electric current from reaching your outlet.
  • I’m pretty handy. Can I solve electrical issues on my own? While we admire your spirit, we don’t advise attempting electrical work by yourself. There’s a reason licensed electricians train for years to become certified. If your home is experiencing electrical problems, keep yourself safe and leave it to the professionals.

Trust Fox Service with Your Electrical Needs

Clearing electrical hazards from your house helps keep your family safe within your home. The best way to do this is to update and repair your system as needed. But don’t tackle these issues on your own. At Fox Service®, our specialized Austin TX electricians are here to keep your home safe from electrical hazards. If you need outlet repair or replacement or have electrical questions, simply call us at 512-488-1120 or request service online.