Most of the time, most electrical problems will call for a professional electrician. When dealing with electricity and safety, that’s usually the smart decision. With an electric outlet, the fix for a problem might be fairly easy, inexpensive, and most important, safe and harmless, to DIY it. When can you replace a failed, burnt electrical outlet yourself?
Outlet Fix Basics
Electricity is nothing to be messed or experimented with. If the issue is just about an electrical outlet, though, it may be simple and safe to deal with. Regular outlets (not a GFCI outlet) can just wear out or fail and be replaced.
Most issues are straightforward to deal with because they are just in the outlet or the circuit breaker panel. If you’re thinking this project will mean breaking drywall, dealing with a bunch of wires and cables and so on, don’t worry. The problem is usually just at one end of the panel or the outlet and the parts, tools and fixes are pretty simple.
First, if you feel unsafe or have unanswered questions, it’s always fine to call an electrician instead. Next, if you’re going to do any work on an outlet, turn off the power to the circuit at the breaker box. Then, you should test the voltage at the outlet to make sure there’s no electricity going to it.
Steps to Fix an Electrical Outlet
If you have an outlet which isn’t working and seems like it’s failing, follow these steps in order. If one doesn’t work, try the next in order.
- Is it a GFCI outlet? If it is, it has a Reset button. Press it and see if it resets.
- Go to your service panel. See if the circuit breaker for the outlet is off. If so, flip the breaker in the opposite direction, then flip it back again to the correct position.
- Go back to the outlet. Check all the outlets on the same circuit between the outlet you started checking and the service panel. See if any of these outlets are GFCI outlets. This could affect all outlets down on the same circuit. Try resetting the GFCI outlet, then check the other outlet again. You may need to replace the GFCI outlet (which is more likely to need an electrician).
- Going back to the busted outlet, take off the faceplate. See if the wires are connected properly. See if all the pigtailed wires are connected. Bare copper wires or green coated wires are ground wires. They usually won’t cause an outlet to not work.
- Regular, non-GFCI outlets do not fail often. When it does happen, you can replace an outlet with a new one. GFCI outlets fail more often. These are more expensive and take more experience to replace safely and correctly.
Can I Fix a Burnt Outlet?
If you have a burnt electric outlet, this needs to be addressed ASAP. This is a serious fire hazard in a home or office. It’s a problem that you need to either fix yourself or call a professional to address.
A burnt socket, cord or outlet, sometimes quite literally charred or burned, means there was a spark or surge in the circuit. You could have an overloaded circuit. It could’ve been an outage, then surge, in electricity. It could be a result of a loose or damaged wire.
Fixing a Burnt Circuit
First, make sure everything is safe. Turn off the power to that circuit and everywhere you think could be the problem. Unplug every appliance or device from the outlet and circuit. Next, use a voltage tester to make sure the power is out everywhere you plan to work.
Now, you can take off the faceplate, then take this out from the box. It’s advised to replace with an arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) unless it’s a GFCI outlet. Loosen the screws holding the wires from the sides of the outlet. Now you can check the degree of the short circuit. Search for any burns, blisters or damage in the wires. If anything’s damaged, throw it away. It’s not safe to use anymore.
Discarding Failed Wires
It’s critical to remove charred, burnt or damaged cables, cords and wires as soon as you know about it. After you’ve found where there’s been a problem with a circuit and there’s damaged components, cut and remove any wires with wire strippers. Next, trim any insulation down to about ¾-inch. Next, turn the ends of the wire into a wire nut. Now, insert the new wires to the side of a new outlet. The black (hot) wire should go next to the gold terminal. The white (neutral) wire goes to the silver terminal. The green, copper or brown (ground) wire goes to the green terminal.
It’s good to use electrical tape over each terminal for safety and added security. Next, attach the wires in place in the outlet box, then screw in the new outlet. Now, put the new outlet’s faceplate on and you can close it.
When is it a Good Time to Call an Electrician? Your best bet? Hire an expert to do the job. South End Electric has the background and understanding to ensure a safe and smooth installation. We can provide everything you need when thinking about a whole home generator for your home and family. Our professionals provide whole-house generator sales and installation to meet your needs. See everything South End Electric can do for you. Call us direct at 704-368-4694.