Unless you were very lucky, you probably bought your home knowing you would have to make some changes to it. Perhaps the kitchen was outdated, the HVAC system was balky, or the hallway carpet was such a putrid shade of green that you wondered what on Earth the original owners were thinking.

Changes to a home are almost inevitable, and while many are obvious (like replacing a horrible carpet), others may be a little more subtle. Take your outlets, for instance. They play a huge role in your life. Without them, you’d have an awful lot of trouble charging all of those devices you constantly use. Because outlets are so important, this means that they shouldn’t be neglected. This also means that if any of these things sound familiar, new outlets may be in order.

One or more don’t work

Maybe we don’t even need to include this one on the list? If an outlet just doesn’t work anymore – no matter how many times you forget and plug something into it – there’s a very good chance that it needs to be replaced. 

The plugs keep falling out

This is another pretty obvious red flag. If you find that your microwave popcorn is constantly half-popped because the dang cord keeps falling out of the outlet, this is an indication that the contacts are worn out. While this might seem like a minor thing, loose connections in an outlet are a fire hazard.

There’s some discoloration

Speaking of fires, if you’ve spotted an outlet that looks discolored – especially if there appears to be charring or scorch marks – this means that it has been burned. The issue could be faulty wiring, but it may also be due to a bad outlet. An outlet that feels hot is also a sign of trouble.

You get an unpleasant surprise when plugging something in

Unless you’ve just gotten something amazing like a pinball machine or one of those hot dog toasters, plugging something into an outlet should be a pretty unexciting event. But if the sparks fly – literally – something’s clearly not right. The same is true if there is a weird smell, unsettling sound like sizzling, or if you get a shock.

You’re surrounded by 2-prongers

Ever tried to put a 3-pronged plug into a 2-prong outlet? Pretty futile (and frustrating), right? And this isn’t just a big annoyance. It is also a big safety issue. All homes built after 1965 were obligated to have ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) 3-prong outlets. If you still have 2-prongers, this creates a shock risk, not to mention possible damage to your electronics. But you can’t just swap out the old outlets for the newer ones; you will also need to have your electrical panel changed or rewired.

They fail the test

Those GFCI outlets mentioned above are designed to shut the power off if a ground-fault is detected. And to make sure they’re doing their job properly, you can – and should – test them. You can do this by pressing the Test button on the outlets that have it. If it doesn’t trip, this means it is not providing adequate protection anymore. The same is true if it does trip, but the Reset button doesn’t turn the power back on.

Changing your outlets may not be high on your home improvement to-do list, but perhaps it should be. With new outlets, you’ll have better peace of mind knowing that all of your electrical stuff will get the power it needs safely and efficiently. Get in touch with Universal Electrical to have a pro sent out to your home to take a look at your outlets.