The thin piece of plastic that is the outlet receptacle protects homeowners from the electrical current that powers everyday life. With regular use, these receptacles can become dry, cracked, and damaged. Old receptacles made from hard bakelite, an early form of brittle plastic, are especially likely to crack.
- Cracked receptacle faces
Cracks in the receptacle can eventually cause the plastic to fall out completely and reveal the metal contact points in the outlet. Loose terminals and slots for the cords can also become exposed and pose a shock risk and fire hazard. It’s important to stop using the outlet until the receptacle has been replaced.
- Cracked or missing cover plates
The cover plate sits on the electrical box, which includes the electrical terminals on the sides of the outlet and the bare ends of the circuit wires. Touching any of these components can lead to a strong electrical shock.
Cover plates also stabilize the outlets. Lack of a cover plate or a cracked cover can cause the outlet to shift, leading to loose wires and premature wear.
- Damaged outlet body
A cracked outlet backplate can expose the wiring and inner contacts within the electrical box and lead to a short circuit. If the box is metal, the exposed hot wire can short, leading to sparks and a loud “pop” sound, followed by a tripped circuit breaker. A damaged outlet body also poses risk of electrical shock and fire.
- Loose receptacle slots
If a receptacle is loose, it won’t securely hold the prongs of an electrical cord plug. A plug that has slipped partway exposes energized metal prongs and could lead to physical harm as well as damage to the electrical system.
It’s important to replace damaged electrical receptacles as soon as possible to keep the system working properly and avoid the risk of damage and physical harm. Consider replacing the outlet with ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles for greater protection. Make sure to properly attach the input and output wires.
Call Tucker Hill for professional electrical service if you need an outlet inspected, repaired, or replaced.