You just bought a new book that you’re excited to read before bedtime. You’re so excited that you buy a brand new lamp to put on your bedside table. You plug the lamp into the outlet by your bed and nothing. You purchase a new light bulb, hoping a faulty light bulb was the culprit. The new light bulb is installed, and still, nothing. All of a sudden, the excitement of a new book is out the window. The reason for this buzzkill is a faulty outlet. Understanding some of the causes of a faulty outlet can help you get the repairs you need in a timely manner. 

Bad Wiring Can Lead to a Faulty Outlet

Unfortunately, the most common cause of a faulty outlet is bad wiring during installation. One of the most common types of faulty wiring is known as backstabbed wiring. The meaning of backstabbing is, instead of using screw terminals to connect wires to switches and outlets, the wire is pushed into a connector that grabs the wire inside the device. 

These backstabbed wires create a loose connection which causes the wires to burn up, destroying the rest of the circuit. To check for backstabbed wires, you need to take off the outlet plate and remove the receptacle from the outlet box. Then, look to see if the wires are correctly curled around the screws or backstabbed. 

When Tapped Circuit Breakers Are the Cause

One faulty outlet is often a sign of faulty wiring or issues with a solo outlet. However, multiple dead outlets are often a sign that there is a tripped circuit breaker. Circuit breakers supply the needed power to a specific part of your home. If a circuit breaker is overloaded, the breaker will flip, cutting off the power to avoid hazardous electrical conditions. 

To check for a tripped breaker, open your main electrical panel. If you’re dealing with a trip, you may notice a switch flipped to “off.” The switch may also be stuck in between on and off. If you don’t see a flipped switch, turn the switch off firmly and turn it back on. If this doesn’t solve your problem, you’re dealing with something more than a tapped circuit breaker. 

Is Your Faulty Outlet Burned Out?

Older outlets are prone to burnout. Not only will a burnt-out outlet prevent your outlet from providing power, but they also pose a significant fire hazard. Fortunately, there are warning signs of a burnt-out outlet so you can get the immediate professional help you need:

  • Warmth on the plastic cover’s surface
  • Visible sparks
  • Blackening around a plug or both plugs on the outlet

If you notice any of these signs, unplug all devices from the outlet. You will also need to contact an electrician as soon as possible. While you may be tempted to attempt to fix this issue on your own, you will be placing yourself at risk. 

It’s a Bad Connection

One of the primary reasons for a faulty outlet is a bad connection. This can be caused by something we mentioned earlier, faulty wiring due to poor installation. However, a poor connection can be caused by other issues. For example, loose connections or damaged screws can lead to issues with the box. 

Symptoms of a bad connection are often mistaken for bad wiring. These warning signs can also be difficult to detect to the untrained eye. If you’re concerned that your outlet may be suffering from a faulty outlet, call a professional electrician who can accurately diagnose your issue. 

Seek Professional Help

In today’s day and age, you can find DIY tutorials for next to anything. While it may be tempting to save some money by fixing your outlet yourself, it can be dangerous and lead to more damage. Without proper training or experience in the industry, you subject yourself to the danger of being electrocuted when dealing with outlets. 

If you smell or see smoke, notice sparks, or hear strange noises near your outlet, turn off the power in your home and call a professional technician as soon as possible. A professional technician will be able to diagnose your issue in a timely manner. After getting to the root of your outlet problems, they will fix the issue before any further damage is caused. 

A faulty outlet can ruin your plans. Fortunately, calling a local electrician can solve your issues. eLocal works to pair you with a local electrician who can help with your needs. 

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