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Should You Replace Old Electrical Outlets?

Close up of mans hand replacing old electric outlet at home

Homeowners depend on electrical outlets to power most of their appliances and gadgets, from refrigerators to phone chargers, yet most don’t pause to consider them until there’s an issue. 

The Canadian Electrical Code (NEC) advised that all homes built after 1962 must have 3-prong, grounded outlets, and some older homes may still have 2-prong outlets. 

Older outlets can pose a risk to your safety and home, and it’s essential to understand potential problems before these concerns become a reality.  But even homes built a few decades ago may have outdated electrical outlets, due to increased technology demands.

It can be challenging to know when to replace your electrical outlets, and 4-Star Electric is here to help you make the most informed and safe decision for your family and home. We’re a friendly team of experts, ready to help at any time. 

The Trouble With Older Outlets 

Older outlets can cause a significant number of issues in your home, like: 

  • Inconsistent power: You may notice flickering lights or problems powering up current technology. Your outlets may be having difficulties keeping up with your current demands.
  • Ungrounded electricity: Ungrounded outlets may short out equipment, causing damage to your favourite appliances and gadgets.
  • Safety concerns: Aging outlets and the wires behind them can become dangerous, causing sparks, arcs, and fire risk

Is it Time for an Upgrade? 

Here are a few signs you should replace your old electrical outlets: 

  • Sparking or hot outlets: Sparking or hot outlets are a severe problem that may result in a fire. You should upgrade your outlets immediately if they are hot or sparking.
  • Broken outlet covers:  Yes, cracked outlet covers are not aesthetically pleasing, but did you know that the problem is more than cosmetic issues?  Cracked surfaces can allow dust and debris into your home’s electrical system, causing damage to the wiring. 
  • Loose outlets: If your plug falls out of the outlet or feels loose, it indicates that the springs inside have worn out. Loose outlets pose a fire and shock hazard, as they can lead to sparks and electrical arcs.  
  • Flickering lights:  If the lights plugged into your outlet are flickering, it may indicate the outlet can’t keep up with your power demands. 
  • Two-pronged outlets:  We’ve already mentioned this, and we’ll bring it up again because we care about your safety! 

2-pronged outlets aren’t grounded, and this is very dangerous. Ungrounded outlets can cause power surges, resulting in damage to appliances, electrical fires, shock and electrocution.

If you notice any of these warning signs, it may be time to upgrade your old electrical outlets. If you have questions or suspect you may have an electrical problem with an older outlet, do not attempt to fix the problem yourself. Contact us at 4-Star Electric for expert advice!   

How Do I Know if My Outlets Are Grounded? 

Grounding is a crucial feature that helps safely channel electricity to the ground during a short circuit, reducing the chances of shock or fire.

If you’re wondering if your older home has grounded outlets, consider using a neon circuit tester to test your outlets. This device can perform a variety of tests, including one to determine if your outlets are grounded. 

Old dangerous looking electrical outlet on a plaid wall

Outlet Upgrade Options

If you’ve decided to upgrade your old electrical outlets, we can help. With skilled electricians like our team at 4-Star Electric, the task won’t be a difficult one. Here are a few available options when replacing or upgrading old outlets: 

  • Upgrade your ungrounded outlets: Hi, it’s us again, letting you know that your 2-prong outlets aren’t safe to use with current technology! If you’re currently using ungrounded outlets, consider making the switch for you, your home, and your family’s safety. 
  • Upgrade your electrical panel: Upgraded outlets are great, but if your electrical panel is still living in the past, you won’t notice any significant changes. If you’re replacing your old electrical outlets, you may also want to consider upgrading your old electrical panel
  • Add Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs): GFCIs cut power to the outlet if a circuit is compromised. This technology is typically installed where electrical circuits could come into contact with water, like the bathroom or kitchen. 

GFCIs help prevent electrocution by cutting power when a circuit is compromised, and should be installed in the higher risk areas of your home for safety. 

We’re Here to Help

If you suspect that the older outlets in your home need upgrading, we suggest contacting an experienced electrician right away for insight. Electrical problems in your home are a safety concern that shouldn’t be ignored. Emergencies can happen quickly, resulting in severe injuries and damage. 

At 4-Star Electric, we care about you and your family’s safety. Contact our friendly and knowledgeable team today if you have concerns about your old electrical outlets and want to upgrade.

We’re always happy to help!

Written by 4-Star Electric

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