Are you fed up with rearranging your appliances to plug into outlets that actually work?
There is much frustration felt when the things you expect to work don’t, like your outlets.
Here, we help you to understand why your outlets may not be working and what you can do to resolve the issue.
We also want to share some very important safety tips to protect your home or business from electrical fires that can be caused by malfunctioning outlets.
First, let’s take a look at what is going on with your outlets.
Why Would Multiple Outlets Stop Working?
There are a few reasons why your outlets are not working.
1. You Could Have an Overloaded Circuit
This happens quite often. An overloaded circuit will trigger a tripped circuit breaker, meaning the power will be shut off to that circuit.
This is a good thing. It shows that your circuit breaker is doing its job.
What’s happening is there is too much electricity being drawn from the circuit breaker which triggers the shut off to prevent a dangerous situation from happening.
Take a look around the part of your home or building where you are experiencing your sockets not working.
Is there an electrical outlet that is inundated with power cords?
Or is there a high-energy-demand piece of equipment or appliance plugged in with another device?
There could be too much power being generated that the circuit can’t safely handle, causing a tripped circuit breaker.
Here’s What To Do:
Start by unplugging everything from the outlets in the room where you are experiencing the issue.
Next, venture out to your electric panel to take a look at the breakers.
You will be able to tell if a breaker was tripped if you see a switch that is not lined up with the other switches that are in the “on” position.
First, flip the switch that is not fully in the “on” position to the “off” position. This will reset the breaker. Then flip the switch back to the “on” position.
If there is any resistance when you flip the switch back to “on”, do not force it. This is your breaker box telling you it is not safe to restore the power to this part of the house or building.
If you experience resistance call your local electrician to inspect and troubleshoot what’s going on.
If the breaker goes back to the “on” position, your power should be restored.
Foretelling signs of overloaded circuit breakers:
- Flickering or dimming lights
- Sizzling or crackling noises from electrical receptacles
- A burning smell coming from the outlets
- Outlets feel warm
- Electrical shocks when you touch appliances
- Blackened or darkened areas around where the plug inserts into the outlet
Coming up, we have more important information regarding these tell-tale signs and how you can prevent a house fire if you experience any of them.
2. You Have Tripped Your GFCI Outlet
First off, GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. This type of outlet is typically installed in areas that are close to a water source.
Building codes require GFCI outlets to be installed in these common areas:
- Laundry room
- Garage with utility sink or laundry hook-ups
If there is too much power coursing through the wires to the circuit to a GFCI outlet it is designed to shut off for safety purposes.
If any of your GFCI outlets are not working properly…
Here’s What To Do:
First, remove every device and appliance that is plugged into the outlet.
If the outlet has been tripped, the “reset” button on the front of the plate will have popped out.
Simply push the “reset” button back in and try plugging in one device to see if the power has been restored.
If the ground fault circuit interrupter won’t reset and the “reset” button is fully pressed in, then it could be a test error.
With this, push the button that says “test” on it. This should disengage the “reset” button for you to engage again.
If the GFCI outlet still will not reset then it could be defective and need to be replaced.
3. Your Wires May Have a Loose Connection
Loose connections are common, caused by normal wear and use.
What causes a loose connection is the constant heating up and cooling down of the wires.
When an electrical current goes through the wire it generates heat. When there is no electricity in the wire, it cools down. This causes an expand and contract event and overtime the wires wear out and become loose.
In newer homes or with newly installed outlets, a loose connection is more likely due to incorrect wiring.
Here’s What To Do:
First, go to your electric panel and disable the power to the plug socket not working.
Use a screwdriver to remove the screw from the front of the electrical faceplate, then take off the faceplate.
If you see any loose wires or corrosion it is best to replace the outlet.
Allowing electricity to flow through dead outlets that have loose connections can potentially put your house or building more at risk for an electrical fire.
4. A Bad Electrical Outlet
Plain and simple, you have a bad electrical outlet.
Similar to the above, replace the whole outlet with a new one.
Here are the warning signs that your outlet is on its way out:
- Your outlet is sparking
- The area around where the plug inserts is black or dark
- You feel warmth from the outlet
These signs signify that there is an increased risk of an electrical fire.
Here’s What To Do:
With these warning signs present, it is highly advised to call the pros to get your bad outlets replaced right away.
A licensed electrician is prepared and equipped to service this repair to safeguard your house or commercial building from the potential risk of fire.
Get In the Know – Red Flags for Electrical Fires
The Electrical Safety Foundation International has shared alarming findings that there are around 51,000 home electrical fires a year, attributing to 500 deaths.
The cause of 5,300 of these fires was linked to electrical outlets.
Electrical fires are preventable.
Check Your Home or Commercial Building for Potential Fire Hazards
These red flags are to help you identify any potential electrical fire risks in your building.
A power strip or electrical receptacle with too many plugs.
A powerstrip has the capacity to hold more plugs than a typical two-plug outlet. A two-plug outlet can also be replaced by an outlet that can triple the number of plugs it holds.
There are many ways to increase an outlet’s capacity for plugs, but the capacity of power output may not be able to keep up with the demand.
High-voltage equipment and appliances should have their own outlet to avoid overloading the circuit breakers.
If you have overloaded outlets or power strips, reorganize the devices to evenly distribute the power output per the capacity of the circuit breaker.
An outlet too close to a water source.
Take a look in all the areas around your house or building that have a shower, bathtub, sink, or an appliance that uses water.
Also, take a look around your exterior perimeter to locate any water spigots.
If you see any electrical outlets in the near vicinity, measure the distance between it and the water source.
The distance between any outlet and a water source needs to be at least 3 feet.
Any outlet near a water source should also be a GFCI outlet.
Call your electrician right away to either move your outlets to the correct distance or to replace your outlet with a GFCI.
If you have young children.
Electrical outlets are located at a level that is convenient for children to stick their fingers or other objects into.
This poses a very dangerous threat of harm to children and to your home, especially if metal is inserted into the receptacle. This can cause an electric shock and could even spark a fire.
If you have little ones in your home, be sure to pick up plastic outlet covers to insert into your open outlets to protect children and your home.
Keep Your Electrician’s Number Handy
Do you have an electrical outlet not working?
Don’t ignore it. Give your trusted local electrician a call to promptly install a new outlet. This will best protect your house or building from the risk of an electrical fire.
Let us know if you’ve tried any of these fixes for your outlets not working. Leave your story below.
Do you have more questions on how to keep your home or business safe from electrical fires?
Ask us below.
We look forward to hearing from you!