Many residents of Fuquay-Varina have one or more outlets in their homes that don’t work at all. Others have malfunctioning GFCI outlets, and others still have outlets that smoke and spark. Whether your outlets are more than two decades old or only recently installed, it’s important to know when to replace them. Read on to learn all about the expected lifespans of these important home features.

Modern Electrical Outlets Last Between 15 and 30 Years

Several factors have a considerable impact on the health and longevity of your outlets. Among these is how frequently they’re used and the type of outlet that you have. For instance, standard outlets that regularly have active devices or appliances plugged into them might last just 15 years. Conversely, outlets in your home that are used a lot less could have lifespans that are twice as long.

Ground fault circuit interrupters or GFCI outlets have average lifespans of between 15 and 25 years. However, unlike standard outlets, GFCIs should be tested annually to ensure both safety and reliable performance.

It’s not uncommon for some outlets to fail after just five years of use. This might be the case for outlets that regularly have cords plugged into them and then pulled back out. It can also occur in homes with outdated electrical systems, power demands that routinely exceed the limitations of their electrical systems, or frequent power surges. Even when outlets offer problem-free operation with little to no maintenance from homeowners, they’re often still being subjected to tremendous wear.

Paying for regular, whole-house electrical inspections is an easy way to stay up to date with this wear. Most electricians recommend scheduling these services once every three to five years. This way, you can start planning and budgeting for outlet replacement before the urgent need for these services ever arises.

Installation-Related Issues

Not all electrical installations are handled by reputable, licensed professionals. In some homes, poor workmanship is the sole cause of early outlet failure. Backstabbing or forcibly pushing a wire through an outlet’s connector rather than its screw terminals will drastically reduce its lifespan. A backstabbed outlet might work for a while, but it won’t work for long. Problems can also occur when companies use wire nuts in the wrong applications rather than solely using these components as wire covering.

There are also contractors that choose the wrong materials for these projects. For instance, if your home has copper wiring, you won’t get lasting results from outlets that are made of aluminum wiring. Mistakes like these aren’t just costly for homeowners, they also greatly increase the risk of electrical fires.

Signs Your Outlets Are Ready for Replacement

Whether due to shoddy workmanship or general aging, there are several signs that your outlets are ready to be replaced:

  • An outlet is cracked or has other visible, structural damage
  • Burn or singe marks around the exterior of an outlet
  • White, sweet-smelling smoke comes from an outlet’s prong holes
  • Outlets make snapping noises and spark

In older homes, outlets are ready to be replaced when their outdated designs have rendered them obsolete. For instance, if you have two-pronged outlets throughout your home, you should upgrade to three-pronged designs to bring your property on par with current building standards. The third hole in three-pronged outlets is for a cord’s ground cord or grounding wire. It limits the likelihood of electrical shock and protects appliances and devices.

In addition to their grounding holes, modern outlets have one small prong hole and another that’s just slightly larger. If your outlets have two prong holes that are identical in shape and size, it’s time to upgrade.

Should You Replace All of Your Outlets at Once?

If your home’s outlets are more than 20 years old and one or more of these features has failed or is exhibiting signs of problems, it’s best to have all your outlets changed at once. Although older outlets might continue working well beyond 25 years, there are usually outlet-related problems looming just around the corner.

If you have brand new outlets and a single, high-use outlet has failed, you should seek advice from a professional. You may be advised to upgrade all your outlets if your current problem is installation-related widespread, or you may need to replace all outlets of the same type.

We’re committed to helping residents of Fuquay-Varina stay safe and comfortable in their homes. We offer top-notch electrical installation and repair services. We also provide EV charging stations, whole-home generators, and cutting-edge options for surge protection. Get in touch with Dawson's Electric today to find out more or to schedule an appointment.

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