Electrical malfunctions are the second leading cause of home fires in the United States. Each year, electrical fires result in more property damage, injuries, and deaths than any other kind of fire.
These dangerous fires can be started by common problems that may seem minor at first glance, such as a loose electrical outlet. Keep reading now to learn why loose outlets are so dangerous and how to repair them.
What Causes Outlets to Get Loose?
Over time, outlets can loosen up as the result of normal wear and tear. The connectors in an outlet can wear out or the outlet may start to separate from the outlet box it is anchored to. In some cases, outlets separate from the boxes behind them because the box was improperly installed too deeply in the wall.
Whatever the case, an electrical outlet loose in a wall can be extremely dangerous.
Loose Electrical Outlet Dangers
When an electrical outlet is loose, it can no longer control the flow of electricity the way that it should. Wires can fray and connectors can be exposed, leading to arcing. Even if your outlet looks fine, if it is loose you are at a much higher risk of:
- Electric shock
- Serious burns
- Electrical fires
- Property damage
Electrical faults can create arcs with temperatures in excess of 35,000°F. The potential for damage to people, pets, possessions, and property is impossible to overstate.
Fixing a Loose Electrical Wall Outlet
If you notice a loose outlet, it is important to stop using it right away and address the problem.
To fix a loose electrical outlet, you will need to start by shutting off the power to the outlet. Flip the associated switch in your circuit breaker panel, then verify that the power is completely cut off using a voltage detector before attempting to do anything else. Failure to do so can lead to severe injuries and property damage.
Once you are certain the power is off, remove and examine the outlet. If the outlet itself has worn out, it will need replacing.
If the outlet is not connecting to the outlet box correctly, you must purchase and install shims. Alternatively, you can replace the entire outlet box. If the box was improperly installed to begin with, replacing or removing and re-installing the box may be the best choice all around.
Hiring a Professional
For most homeowners, it is best to hire a professional to repair a loose electrical outlet box for you rather than attempt it yourself. Not only is electrical work extremely dangerous, but it can also affect your home insurance coverage.
If you repair an outlet on your own and later experience electrical problems, fires, injuries, or damages related to it, your home insurance may refuse to cover it because the work was not done by an authorized professional. Hiring an expert also saves time, since they have the skills and equipment to do the job quickly and correctly.
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Now that you know how to handle a loose electrical outlet, keep leveling up your home improvement knowledge by checking out our blog. Whatever your next house project is, we have the information you need to get it done safely and with the best possible results.