Why do My Electrical Plugs Keep Falling out of My Outlet
It seems like it happens to everyone, whether you rent or you are a homeowner. Eventually, you will plug something into an electrical outlet, but does not want to stay put. It could be one mounted on your wall or even one on an extension cord or power strip.
Aside from being annoying, this can cause an electrical hazard. Do not just ignore this problem, but find out what you can do to solve it.
What Causes My Outlet to do This?
You may not have known this, but electrical outlets will wear out. One of the classic signs of this happening is by plugs not wanting to stay plugged in. You may notice this as when a plug starts to droop from your wall or when it will not set straight on a power strip.
What has happened is the connectors inside the outlet have loosened and no longer grip the plug prongs as it should. This can simply be caused by repetitive use, especially if there is one you are constantly using on for short-term applications. The ones used for vacuuming very commonly fall to this wear.
In addition to just simple use, these can wear out more rapidly when you put an unintended strain on the plug. Think about trying to get that extra little inch before unplugging your vacuum. That extra strain can loosen the connectors. If you have faulty wiring, and the connectors get overheated, that can also cause them to loosen.
What Do Most People Do?
Unfortunately, most people do not realize the damage and the danger that worn out electrical outlets can pose. Rather than trying to solve the actual problem, many people act as if the problem is in the plug. They will try to bend the prongs on the plug. Unfortunately, this creates an electrical hazard as well as possible damage to the appliance.
Other people will use something to hold the plug in place. This is extremely dangerous and can cause an electrical short. Please do not attempt to use duct tape to fix this problem, while it can fix a lot, in this application it may cause a fire.
The other thing some people commonly try is to run an extension cord from another outlet further away. This can create more problems when used as a long term solution. Not only does this create a tripping hazard, but oftentimes put unintended strain where the extension cord is plugged in, creating another problem with loose connectors. Not to mention a lot of people create fire hazards by not using extension cords correctly.
What Should I Do?
Rather than trying any of these tricks to avoid making an actual repair, the best thing to do is to just replace it. However, when you do, there is some additional work you may want to consider.
First, you want to look at the one you are removing for signs of damage that may indicate a bigger problem. These are the signs that could indicate trouble:
Is there melted or worn wiring insulation?
Are there scorch marks on or near the electrical outlet?
Are there any odd odors coming from the wall?
Is it hot or warm to the touch before turning the power off?
All of these are indications you have a larger problem you will want to address to avoid possible electrical fires.
What Should I Consider?
One of the safest things you can do is replace your outlets if you find any of them are wearing. As long as you do not see any indications of a larger problem, you want to consider the right replacement. Look at how it is being used, and see what option may be the best fit. Electrical outlets come in a variety of styles, which include the following.
GFCI outlets are probably the most commonly thought of after your standard three-prong. These are commonly used anywhere there may be a water hazard. They have a mini breaker built-in. If it senses an unusual fluctuation in the electrical flow, it will trip to protect the system.
AFCI outlets are similar to GFCI in that they will disrupt the electrical flow. While GFCI prevents detected grounding, the AFCI prevent detected arcing, which is the jumping of electricity through the wall.
USB outlets are another option. These allow you to plug-in charging cables for your mobile devices without having the adapter. A common variety of these has three-prong plugs with two USB ports.
Smart outlets are also growing in popularity with the adoption of more smart home devices. These allow you to control the outlet from your phone. For instance, if you have a habit of leaving the curling iron or coffee pot on, these are extremely helpful.
Finally are 20 amp outlets. These are the larger outlets you commonly find for washing machines, refrigerators, electric stoves, or anything drawing a lot of power.
Why Should I Consider Hiring a Pro?
If you have some degree of experience working on electrical systems, you may be able to handle a basic replacement. Be sure you turn off the power at the breaker before you begin work.
However, if you are doing any sort of upgrade or you find any indication of shorting, it is best to let a licensed electrician handle the repair. They will be able to trace down the problem to be sure you are safe. For upgrades, they will ensure the new electrical outlet matches the wiring and the breaker.
Your Next Move
You should always contact a licensed electrician whenever you consider upgrading or repairing anything electrical. Electricity is nothing to play with, and attempting to fix a problem on your own could worsen your issue or create a bigger problem than you know how to fix. When it comes to installing dedicated circuits, you want to make sure the process goes smoothly and causes no issues.
At D.O.C. Electric Inc., we have the know-how to assist you. We’ll send out a professional electrician to help you figure out which appliances deserve dedicated circuits so that you can configure the electricity of your home more efficiently and logically. To get in contact with an electrician today, contact us, and we’ll help you get your circuits sorted out.