AKA receptacles, outlets are normally located on the walls mounted low but up off the floor about a foot. Special versions can also be installed on floors, ceilings or on the surface of countertops. Overloading a circuit can occur by plugging in too many appliances. Defective appliances can also cause an overload or short. Always use the proper plugs correctly sized cords for the application. Some homes are not equipped with grounded (three hole) outlets. We highly recommend you have a licensed electrician properly upgrade your electrical system if this is the case. Outlets near water sources or mounted outside must be safety protected by a special sensor called a GFCI or ground fault circuit interrupter. GFCI’s detect shorts or grounds and turns off the power to the outlet. Some newer building codes also now require AFCI’s, arc-fault circuit interrupters. These are intended to prevent arcing which can cause fires. When an arc is detected the offending circuit is shut down and can be reset similarly to a GFCI. These should be tested once per quarter also. Typically, outlets are installed as pairs at each location.


  • Inspect your electrical outlets and see if you have all grounded (three-hole) outlets. If not, contact an electrician and plan make an upgrade.
  • Locate and note the whereabouts of your GFCI/AFCI outlets. Some may be hidden or hard to locate.
  • If there are small children at home, use childproof plugs to cover the outlets

Common Troubleshooting

  • A GFCI/AFCI outlet that has stopped working should be tested by depressing the test button located on the outlet. If all is OK, the GFCI will reset and become useable again. If it won’t reset, then an electrician should be contacted to troubleshoot and make appropriate repairs.
  • If an outlet is not working, check first to see if it is controlled by a wall switch or GFCI/AFCI. Next, check the breaker. If you experience loss of power to any kitchen, bath, garage or exterior outlet then a GFCI/AFCI breaker has likely tripped. Search for the GFCI/AFCI outlet and reset. The reset button for garage and exterior outlets are sometimes located inside the main breaker box or in one of your systems subpanels.
  • If an outlet produces a burning smell, noise, is warm to the touch or has scorch marks a repair is needed ASAP.


  • 4x per year: Test each G/AFCI.
  • 1x per year: Check the cover plate surrounding each outlet as it can break and need to be replaced, or the screws may come loose and need tightening. Do not overtighten the screws! Other than that, there is nothing in the actual outlet that can safely be maintained or repaired. If an outlet begins to operate poorly, breaks, feels warn to the touch or if it stops working, it should be reported to a licensed electrician and be replaced immediately.