So many home appliances and electronics rely on electrical outlets to provide power or charge batteries. It can be especially frustrating if you go to use an outlet to charge your phone, only to discover that your phone hasn’t been charged at all. If you find that a faulty electrical outlet is a culprit, then you are probably wondering why your outlet stopped working properly and how to go about fixing it. The team of electricians at Chesterfield Service has the answers about why electrical outlets stop working and what can be done to fix them.
How an Electrical Outlet Works
An electrical outlet provides a way to connect a device to a building or home’s wiring. Every outlet has two vertical slots called “shutters,” and one is often bigger than the other. The larger slot is the neutral connection, while the other shutter is the hot connection. The neutral connection carries the current back to the electrical panel, while the hot connection supplies current to the outlet. Some outlets have a third hole which is the ground. These outlets are standard outlets found in almost every home.
A ground fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI outlet, has a safety feature that detects any electrical current imbalances between the hot and neutral wires. These kinds of outlets are often found in places where moisture is common like a bathroom, garage, or utility room. When an electronic item plugged into an electrical outlet gets wet, the GFCI outlet will shut off power to the outlet to prevent electric shock.
Reasons Why Your Electrical Outlet Isn’t Working
Some outlets are called “half-hot outlets.” This means that one half of the outlet is controlled by a switch while the other is always receiving power, or hot. Flip a switch or two to see if your outlet is controlled by a switch on the wall.
It might not just be the particular outlet that is overloaded, but the circuit itself. Your circuit breaker will have a circuit dedicated to every room in the house. If one outlet on this circuit is overloaded, it may cause issues with the other outlets. Try to unplug some other items in the room to see if that restores power to the outlet.
If you plug something into an electrical outlet and can feel it jiggle, it might not be secure. Over time, electrical outlets can loosen which can cause outlets to fail. If you notice that the item you plugged in doesn’t stay secure, it could be time to replace the outlet.
Tripped GFCI Outlet
While GFCI outlets are great for preventing shocks, sometimes they can be tripped for no reason. If your outlet is not working and is a GFCI outlet, press the button on the outlet cover plate to see if it starts working again. If it continues to trip without warning, talk to an electrician to find the cause.
Just like anything in your home, electrical outlets can wear out over time. With proper installation and usage, outlets can last decades. If you find a discolored or loose outlet in your home that is not working, upgrading the outlet is probably the best solution.
Over time, wiring can fail and become faulty which can make an outlet stop working. If you notice any burning smells when using an outlet, unplug the items, and do not use the outlet again until it is replaced. These burning odors could be a sign of wiring issues which could cause a fire.
An outlet with a burn on it is a sign of an electrical problem, and the outlet should not be used. Burned-out outlets can often be caused by short circuits, faulty wiring, loose connections, or overloading. Talk to an electrician about replacing this outlet as soon as possible.
Troubleshooting Outlet Issues and When To Call An Electrician
When you encounter an outlet that isn’t not working, there are a few things you can do to solve the problem. First, check to see if it’s a GFCI outlet and whether it has been tripped. Also, check to see if the outlet is half hot or not. If neither of these issues is the case, check to see if the circuit breaker has been tripped. A tripped circuit breaker happens when a circuit is overloaded. This is very common in circuits where there are many power strips or extension cords. If you find that you need to use lots of power strips in your home because you don’t have enough outlets, this could be dangerous. Talk to an electrician from Chesterfield Service about adding more outlets to your home’s electrical system.
If you find that you have a particular outlet or outlets that cause your circuit breaker to trip regularly, you’ll want to talk to an electrician to find the cause of the issue. Multiple outlets that are overloaded can commonly cause your circuit breaker to trip.
Burning smells or noises coming from outlets should not be used, and you need electrical repairs before using them again. These outlets could be a fire hazard. If you have any dead outlets or outlets with loose wires or burn marks, talk to Chesterfield Service for electrical repairs or for circuit breaker repairs.