Receptacles are a convenient way to plug all types of appliances and lighting into to supply power. However, these convenient devices have their share of problems over the years. Your Lehigh Valley electrical contractor can easily correct any of these problems and install new receptacles should the need exist. Here is a look at the many things that can go wrong.
Because receptacles, often called outlets, are a fixed device, they have no moving parts. Receptacles have metal contact points for the hot, neutral, and ground connections that, over time, begin to wear and loosen their gripping power that holds cods in tightly. The downfall, then, is exposed contact points on the plug connection and little or no contact area with the receptacle contact blades. This builds the resistance and causes heat. The heat will cause problems in the wiring and likely lead to a circuit breaker tripping or a fuse blowing. As a safety measure, replace worn out receptacles and those with cracks or of the polarized varieties.
A common problem with receptacles is also loose wiring on the connection points of the terminals of the receptacle. A loose wire will also make for a bad connection and cause an unusual amount of heat buildup. Loose connections can also cause sparking in the junction box that can result in arcing. You’ll likely see burn marks around the terminals if this happens. This is a likely electrical fire in the works if not corrected immediately.
Receptacles are made of plastic and are susceptible to breakage and/or cracking. These receptacles can be safety hazards and should be replaced. Vibrations, lack of someone tightening the terminal screws effectively, and wire types that are effected by heat, can all contribute to the terminal connections. You should be especially careful when using aluminum wire for electrical connections.
The life of your receptacles often depends on the amount of use they receive and the quality of the receptacles. There are different grades of receptacles that makes a big difference on how long they last. Of course, the professional grade receptacles are built much better with a heavier duty contact area. Be sure that whatever type of receptacle you buy to replace an old or defective one, it should always be the same size rating or larger to handle the load that will be attached to it. If you have a 15-amp receptacle, you’ll need at least a 15-amp receptacle to replace it. That doesn’t mean that you couldn’t use a 20-amp receptacle as a replacement.
Remember, things like overloaded circuits can weaken and damage receptacles and this can lead to electrical fires. If you haven’t checked your receptacles, now is a great time to check them for tension, cracks, and signs of bad connections before they cause severe damage to you or your Lehigh Valley home.