Stock image of Electrician installing a power outlet.

When to Replace Your Home’s Electrical Outlets

Electrical wall outlets are one of those things in our homes that we usually don’t spend much time thinking about. Unless we have something to plug in, and even then, we forget them once that’s done.

But in truth, you should give a thought or two about checking on your wall outlets every now and then. They might just tip you off to a potential disaster.

Wall outlets that are damaged or worn out can lead to electrical hazards. Wall outlets that are over-heating or look brown and charred are also a sign of a possible electrical hazard.

On top of that, outlets can be outdated or need an upgrade to a GFCI (ground fault current interrupter) outlets for safety—especially when plugging in major appliances or near sinks.

And finally, they’re just part of the décor. They do come in designer colors, which is much better than just painting over them and possibly clogging them up—which could lead to an electrical hazard.

Here are a few things to look for when deciding to change wall outlets.

Cracked Outlets

Believe it or not, that little crack in your outlet can attract dust and possibly become a fire hazard. That can also happen if the outlet plate is undersized, creating gaps. In fact, gaps over 4.5 mm can increase the chance of a short circuit.

More and more electronics are left on 24/7 (computers, video game systems, etc.) and it makes sense to keep your outlets free of debris and dust—not to mention they’ll just look better.

If even part of the outlet’s plastic faceplate broke away, the prongs of a plug could bridge from the electrical contacts to the grounded strap, resulting in electrical arcing (current being released into the air). That speeds up deterioration of the plug and could also be a fire hazard.

They’re Worn Out

Just like anything else, day-to-day-use can wear out and damage your outlets, especially if it’s one you’re constantly plugging and unplugging. That can make them loose and loosen connections and that can lead to overheating.

Hot Outlets

First, check to see if the plate is warm or the screws holding it in is warm. If they are, it’s a sign of overheating and could be caused by running too much power through the outlet. You may need an upgrade to an outlet that can handle a larger current.

If you see scorching or soot around the outlet, chances are the outlet is worn out but, to be safe, you should have it, and your wiring, checked by us.

They’re Out-of-Date

Your outlets probably came with your home and that means they could be decades old. Think of the advances that have been made in electronics since then. For example, instead of charging your phone through a USB adapter, you can install an outlet that has one built in. There’s actually a world of options out there for plugging in high-tech equipment from phone jacks to multi-port connectors to dimmer controls. We can help you increase the efficiency and utility of your wall outlets.

Also modern building codes call for GFCI outlets in certain areas such as kitchens and bathrooms, which is a good idea even without the codes. A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) or Residual Current Device (RCD) is a device that shuts off an electric power circuit when it detects that current is flowing along an unintended path, such as through water or a person. (Via

And finally, if you still have old two-pronged outlets without a third ground prong, well, you’ve waited long enough.

Change the Appearance

Chances are that when your home was built, you got plane white outlets and covers. You’ve been denying yourself. Wall outlets can come in a variety of styles from antique, steel, brass, nickel, nylon, plastic, outdoor weather proof, matte, gloss, oversize dimensions, and on and on. Why not splurge?

In the end, a thorough replacing of your wall plates and outlets will leave you safer, more efficient and more stylish. Not a bad result for replacing something you never think about.

Do you live in Salem, Gloucester, or Cumberland County and would like to schedule an appointment to replace your home’s electrical outlets? Call us at 856.769.3932.