Electrical: Outlets

Outlets

Electrical outlets are the devices that provide power to your appliances. Also known as receptacles, find them low on walls or just about a foot above the floor in most homes. Special versions for floors, ceilings or on the surface of countertops are available. Typically, outlets are in pairs so more than one appliance may have power at a time.

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. If you have older outlets without grounding openings, have a licensed electrician properly upgrade your electrical system.

Receptacles 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 called arc-fault circuit interrupters. These outlets designed to prevent 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

To-Do

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

Common Problems and Troubleshooting

  • Test all GFCI/AFCI’s by depressing the test button located on the device. If all is OK, the GFCI will reset and become useable again. Contact an electrician if a GFCI will not reset.
  • Check wall switches first if an outlet is not working. 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 tripped GFCI/AFCI and reset. The reset button for garage and exterior receptacles are sometimes located inside the main breaker box or in one of your systems sub-panels.
  • Call an electrician ASAP if an outlet produces a burning smell, noise, is warm to the touch or has scorch marks.

Maintenance

  • 4x per year: Test each G/AFCI.
  • 1x per year: Check the cover plate surrounding each outlet. Replace any cracked or broken covers. Tighten any screws that may have come loose. Do not over-tighten the screws! Outlets are not repairable. Replace defective outlets that operate poorly, break or feel warn to the touch.
  • Replace any GFCI’s and AFCI’s older than 6 years. Get new replacements here.

More on Outlets...


Home Zones

All
Plumbing
Climate
Electrical
Structure
Windows/Doors
Interior
Appliances
Utilities
Landscape
Emergency
Plumbing
Plumbing
Climate
Climate
Electrical
Electrical
Structure
Structure
Windows/Doors
Windows/Doors
Interior Finishes
Interior Finishes
Appliances
Appliances
Utilities
Utilities
Landscape
Landscape
Emergency
Emergency
Plumbing Systems
Plumbing Systems
Main Water Service
Main Water Service
Fittings & Fixtures
Fittings & Fixtures
Water Heaters
Water Heaters
Waste / Septic Systems
Waste / Septic Systems
Fire Extinguishers
Fire Extinguishers
Climate Control
Climate Control
Thermostats
Thermostats
Heat Sources
Heat Sources
Air Quality
Air Quality
Air Conditioners
Air Conditioners
Exhaust/Ceiling Fans
Exhaust/Ceiling Fans
Mold/Mildew
Mold/Mildew
Condensation
Condensation
High Efficiency Furnaces
High Efficiency Furnaces
Electrical
Electrical
Switches
Switches
Outlets
Outlets
Lighting
Lighting
Distribution Panels / Circuit Breakers
Distribution Panels / Circuit Breakers
Smoke / CO Detectors
Smoke / CO Detectors
Electric Water Heaters
Electric Water Heaters
Structure
Structure
Exterior Finishes
Exterior Finishes
Roof System
Roof System
Insulation
Insulation
Fastners
Fastners
Foundation
Foundation
Basement / Crawlspace
Basement / Crawlspace
Attics
Attics
Termites
Termites
Windows
Windows
Doors
Doors
Locks/Hardware
Locks/Hardware
Weatherstripping
Weatherstripping
Interior Finishes
Interior Finishes
Drywall
Drywall
Trim Work
Trim Work
Flooring
Flooring
Mirrors / Shower Door / Glass
Mirrors / Shower Door / Glass
Cabinets / Countertops
Cabinets / Countertops
Paint / Coatings
Paint / Coatings
Hardware
Hardware
Stairs/Railings
Stairs/Railings
Appliances
Appliances
Ovens
Ovens
Cooktops
Cooktops
Exhaust Hoods
Exhaust Hoods
Disposals
Disposals
Dishwashers
Dishwashers
Compactors
Compactors
Refrigerators / Freezers
Refrigerators / Freezers
Ranges
Ranges
Washer / Dryers
Washer / Dryers
Central Vacuum
Central Vacuum
Microwave Oven
Microwave Oven
Utilities
Utilities
Underground Systems
Underground Systems
Electricity / Communication
Electricity / Communication
Water-Municipal / Wells
Water-Municipal / Wells
Natural Gas / Propane
Natural Gas / Propane
Sewer / Septic
Sewer / Septic
Garden
Garden
Hardscape
Hardscape
Lighting
Lighting
Driveways
Driveways
Outdoor Furniture
Outdoor Furniture
Outbuildings
Outbuildings
Living with Fire
Living with Fire
Family Emergency Strategy
Family Emergency Strategy
Earthquake Preparation
Earthquake Preparation
Surviving Snow
Surviving Snow

Help me to help you

Thank you for taking time to use this free website. I hope you find the junk-free information here fun and useful? Please send me your comments and feedback.

Writing and maintaining the information in this manual is a lot of hard work. By sharing these pages with your friends, you help me to continue the effort.  You can easily share these pages to all your favorite social media sites via the shortcut buttons on the sidebar. You can also simply email the page link to your friends. Please share often.

The very best way to help me happens when you use the embedded links to buy things. Using a link is easy and free, yet it provides a great source of support for this site. The vendors I've chosen to link to have proven to be trustworthy and are the very best resources available. That is why I recommend them personally.

HomePreservationManual.com is the place to visit if you want information on

  • maintaining your home
  • how to improve air quality
  • ways to improve the real value of your home
  • what are the best housekeeping services
  • the problems with handymen services
  • how to plan and execute home renovation and home improvement projects
  • tips for spring cleaning; tidying up a messy house
  • and generally how to be a better homeowner.

Make sure you download your monthly maintenance checklist for this month.

Linking to this site

Do you want to link to anything on this site? Please do! Go right ahead. I appreciate it and am honored to be considered as a resource on your website. Always feel free to link to anything you find helpful. Of course, please never copy anything (everything is copyrighted and registered), but link away and thanks!

Thank you!

Copyright and permission to use information.

If you have questions or just want to say hi, please send me a note. If you are looking for help performing the work described and you are in the San Francisco area, go to HPS Palo Alto Inc.and request a free evaluation.

As a reminder, it is unlawful to make copies including cut and paste or especially in the form of making printouts for reuse. If you wish to make a print for personal use, I will happily grant you one-time permission if you will kindly send me a request in writing.

Thanks again!