Electrical outlets are the devices that power your appliances into. Also known as receptacles, outlets are normally located on the walls mounted down low, just above the floor about a foot. Special versions are made to be installed on floors, ceilings or on the surface of countertops. Typically, outlets are installed as pairs at each location so more than one appliance may be powered per area.

Overloading a circuit can occur by plugging in too many appliances into an outlet.. It is important to always use the proper plugs and correctly sized cords for the application. Some older homes are not equipped with proper grounded (three hole) receptacles. We highly recommend you have a licensed electrician properly upgrade your electrical system

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 require AFCI’s, arc-fault circuit interrupters. These are outlets are intended to prevent arcing which can cause fires. When an arc is detected by an AFCI, the offending circuit is shut down. It can be reset similarly to a GFCI. AFCIs should be tested once per quarter. 

Image of brass floor outlets
Floor outlets


  • 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. An electrician should be contacted to troubleshoot and make appropriate repairs if a GFCI will not reset.
  • 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! There is nothing inside the actual outlet that can be maintained or repaired. If an outlet begins to operate poorly, breaks or feels warn to the touch, it should be reported to a licensed electrician and be replaced immediately.