Outlets are a necessity in the modern home. You plug in your appliances, computers, and charging devices into these outlets every day. There is more to the outlet than just the faceplate and the plug notches. Behind that plate lies an electrical box, which contains the electrical and grounding wires that hook into your home's main system. An issue with the outlet can lead to issues with your entire system as well as with the items you are plugging into it.
Damaged or Loose Faceplates
The faceplate over the outlet may seem like it is mainly there for cosmetic reasons, but it also prevents damage to the wires contained inside the electrical box. If a faceplate is cracked or chipped, it may not be providing adequate protection. Further, when there are damages to the faceplate the same force that caused those damages may have also loosened wires inside the electrical box. This is often the case if the faceplate is loose, whether there is visible damage or not.
Sparks When Used
Sparks or small shocks are never a good sign in your home electrical system. If you experience either when plugging in or unplugging from the outlet, then you need to stop using it until an electrician can perform a repair. Sparks and shocks are usually the results of either a loose wire or poor grounding. Both of these can lead to surges, which can damage the electrical system or the item plugged in. In severe cases, there is a risk of an electrical fire.
Inconsistent Electrical Flow
Inconsistent electrical flow can show in a variety of ways. For example, if a lamp is plugged into the outlet the light may seem unsteady or flickering. If you are charging a device, such as a phone, the charge may periodically become interrupted or it may take a long time for the phone to reach full charge. Shorts or loose wiring are the usual culprits. It's best to avoid using the outlet until it can be repaired.
Difficult to Use
Outlets should be easy to use. You should not have difficulty either plugging into the outlet or removing the plug from the outlet. If plugs seem to get stuck inside the outlet and you are pulling from the plug itself and not pulling the cord, then the outlet needs to be inspected.
Contact a local electrician such as those at Palmer Electric Inc. if you suspect that there is an issue with the outlet or electrical box.