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According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, there are around 51,000 fires and a resulting $1.3 billion in property damage from preventable electrical hazards each year. These fires are why it’s important to keep your electrical system maintained and up to date.

Checking your electrical system is easy, so long as you know the signs that it’s time to upgrade your outlets. Here are the warning signs it’s time to upgrade the outlets in your Richmond home.

Signs That You Need to Upgrade Your Outlets

Burning Smell

outlet with burn marks

The smell of burning means something is wrong. The plastic or wiring may be melting and burning. Turn off the outlet and unplug anything in it immediately, then call an electrician.

Blown Fuses and Tripped Breakers

If a particular appliance trips the circuit breakers, no matter the outlet it is plugged into, the appliance is faulty. If only one outlet trips, the outlet is faulty. Replace it as soon as possible.

Flickering Lights

When your lights dim or flicker when you plug an appliance in, it is a sign that your outlet can’t handle the electrical load. Use a different outlet or have an electrician upgrade it.

Outlets Are Hot to the Touch

A hot outlet is a precursor to burning and fire. Often, it means that the wiring is fraying. Call an electrician to fix this as soon as possible.

Plugs Falling Out of Outlet Slots

When plugs fall out or only go in part way, it means the inner workings of the socket have worn out. Damaged outlets pose a very high fire risk, and you should replace them immediately.

Sparking, Smoking, or Buzzing Outlets

sparking outlets

Sparking, smoking, and buzzing outlets are all signs of immediate danger. They only occur when something is burning, the socket has short-circuited due to water or damage, or the appliance plugged in is faulty.

Too Many Extension Cords

So long as an outlet can support the electrical weight of the number of appliances, cords aren’t too big of an issue. However, the more cables and extension cords there are, the more likely they will get tangled or be tripped over. If you find yourself needing additional outlets, contact an electrician for upgrades. 

Outlets Aren’t Tamper-Resistant

Tamper-resistant outlets are essential for any home with children. They have covers over the electrical ports that only open with even pressure.

Your Outlets Are Two-Pronged

The vital distinction between two and three-pronged plugs is that two-pronged plugs are not grounded. A Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlet has a third hole for grounding. If the electrical device comes into contact with water in a kitchen or bathroom, the GFCI will trip and shut off to prevent electric shock.

Your GFCI Outlets Don’t Trip When Tested

If you press the test button and nothing happens, or if the reset button doesn’t restore power, it is time for a new GFCI outlet. Be sure the breaker hasn’t tripped and that the outlet is on before testing.


Why shouldn’t you delay electrical upgrades?

Electrical fires, injuries, and damages are a real threat. Even if it doesn’t seem like an immediate issue, any complications with your electrical system pose a threat. You should not take electrical safety lightly. Take care of electrical upgrades as soon as possible. 

What are the benefits if I upgrade my outlets even if they are still in good condition?

Modern homes deserve modern outlets. Some electrical panels come equipped with a recessed design, USB ports, and even Wi-Fi ports.

Can I install a new outlet myself?

As long as there is no damage to the wiring or inner parts, it should be safe to change an outlet yourself.

Changing an outlet is usually a simple process. Still, you may want to call a professional to make sure any changes you make are correct.  

U.S. Electric Can Help

With over 30 years of experience, our team of certified and licensed Richmond electricians is ready to help. We provide your Richmond home with the best outlet repairs, upgrades, and solutions.

From installation projects, electrical maintenance, and repair jobs, we’ve done it all! Contact us today to discuss your electrical service or repair needs!