Electricity is nothing to mess around with, but not every electrical issue is a major problem. Because it’s such an integral part of our daily routine, we often take electricity for granted until something goes wrong.
You plug in your hairdryer just like you do every day, and…nothing. Your faulty outlet may not need to be a source of worry. In fact, it may not be a faulty outlet at all. Ask yourself the following questions to help determine why an outlet that isn’t working.
Is the wall outlet in your kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room?
Building codes now require every outlet near a sink to be a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) or be protected by one. Rather than tripping a circuit, GFCI outlets will shut down on their own. If a GFCI outlet has stopped working, simply reset it. You may need to reset all GFCI outlets within a room because the interconnectivity between outlets can sometimes cause one to stop electricity from another.
Is there a tripped circuit breaker?
Another common reason behind a non-functioning outlet is a tripped circuit breaker. Check your breaker panel and see if any of the circuits are stuck or in the “off” position. If so, try resetting the circuit. If it continues to trip, it may mean that the outlet is overloaded or is simply faulty. Do not attempt to replace the outlet on your own.
Have you checked the surrounding outlets?
Depending on how your home is wired, one “off” outlet may cause several other outlets to stop working. Once you’ve eliminated a tripped circuit as the cause of your trouble, it’s time to further examine the room. If only a single electrical outlet isn’t working, then your issue is likely an isolated problem. If all of the outlets along a wall in the entire room aren’t working, then you may have a more complex problem requiring the help of a professional electrician.
Are there signs of a fire?
Take any sparks, charring, or smoke you notice very seriously. Each of these conditions indicates a fire hazard. Immediately stop using the outlet, even if it regains electrical connection. It's important to have your outlet inspected by a professional electrician. While the burnout is likely an isolated incident, it may be a warning sign of a larger issue.
Do you live in an older home?
Outlets and electrical wiring age just like any other element of your home. Over time, outlets can become faulty. Modern devices cause us to use more electricity now than we did in past decades, so your wiring may need to be updated in order to handle your household’s electrical needs.
Have you called a professional?
If you can’t figure out your outlet issue on your own, don’t worry! Contact your local electrician for a professional opinion and solution for your electrical challenge.
Do you think you may have an electrical short circuit? A short circuit occurs when the flow of electricity is interrupted by a flaw in the established wiring. Let's take a look at the four primary causes.