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In this blog post, we are going to talk to you about why and when you should replace your electrical switches and plug outlets.

Most people take for granted the electrical switches and outlets in their home until one doesn’t work. These simple electrical components can quickly become a hazard if not inspected regularly frequently fail because of constant use or the end of lifecycle component. We recommend an electrical inspection be performed every 2-5 years by a licenced electrician to verify that your electrical system is safe. An electrical inspection should include the main Electrical Panel, Lighting plus the Switches and Outlets throughout the house.

Without professional training home or building, owners are commonly not trained or licenced to diagnose electrical concerns and usually are made aware of an issue only when an appliance, lights or outlets cease to function.

Our following blog will identify and simplify the most common issues and reasons why you should consider changing or updating your electrical outlets and switches.

How old is your home or building?

Most homes, buildings or facilities require considerable repairs after 20 years. Within 20 years we generally replace the roof shingles, windows, doors, furnace, air-conditioner, flooring, walls, the paint, and the list goes on.

What about your electrical system?

The end of life or lifecycle replacement for a switch or plug outlets is similar, they ware out. The 20year lifecycle mark is a safe guideline to use when making a decision to make repairs or upgrade your electrical system components.

Lifecycle expectation can be tricky, as the more you use a switch or outlet it may increase or decrease its lifecycle. If the switch or outlet is never used, its end-of-life will be extended, but if there is regular use or abuse, they may need to be replaced much sooner.

If your house or building is 30-50 years old your Electrical plugs and outlets may be a ticking time bomb, waiting to fail. If your property falls in this category we recommend you should plan for a Electrical Inspection, as most of the switches and outlets need to be replaced.

Is your home Electrical too Hot to Touch?

What to look for in your home or business that could indicate faulty switches or outlets.

Electrical Switches

  • The switch or cover plate is hot to touch. Emergency (Call PTX Electric)
  • Switches that are loose to the touch.
  • Switch wobbles when used.
  • The light or appliance doesn’t function right away, then starts. This switch is faulty.
  • The light or appliance works only after multiple attempts.

Electrical Outlets Concerns

  • The switch or cover plate is hot to touch. Emergency (Call PTX Electric)
  • The appliance plug does not stay in place and falls out.
  • The appliance plug will not insert all the way and wobbles.
  • Outlets that are loose.
  • Outlets that do not have a ground slot.
  • The light, appliance, heater doesn’t function right away, then starts.
  • The light or appliance works only after multiple attempts.

These basic examples are just a few of the issues that indicate immediate repair. Leaving these defective components in place increases the risk of fire, and pose a real threat to health and safety.

Inferior Electrical Switches and Outlets

Like most products on the market, there is several levels of quality for electrical switches and outlets ranging from low, medium, to high. Just a word of caution, there is one more category, can you guess what it is? (Junk.) Word of advice, when purchasing light switches or plug outlets always choose a quality product.

PTX Electric has responded to many service calls at homes and businesses just to replace an inferior plug or switch purchased from anonymous outlet stores. At that moment it seemed like a deal but having to replace it several times is costly. PTX Electric only sells quality components, and we guarantee the products we sell, if it fails, we replace it for free.

Flickering Lights

Electrical Switches and Outlets often fail with no visual or physical evidence. What to look for.

  • Does your lights flicker?
  • Do they cycle on and off sometime?
  • Can you hear a buzzing noise from the light fixture?
  • Can you hear a buzzing noise from the switch when or after you turn it on?

These are all symptoms of a failing switch.

  • A Single pole switch can cause lights to flicker. The switch is faulty and could cause appliance or light damage if not replaced.
  • A faulty 3-way switch can cause lights to flicker and will cause fixture damage,
  • If this is a single pole or three-way dimmer switch it could cause uncontrolled dimming, flickering lights, or no power at all.
  • All these issues should be investigated by a trained and certified electrician.
  • A faulty switch can cause a humming or buzzing sound .

Electrical Outlets

  • A Regular plug outlet will create similar issues if defective. When you plug in a heater a light or other appliances, they may work sometimes, than they don’t. Some customers have told us, when they bump the electrical outlet, it works. (Not recommended)
  • Internal components do fail, and in many situations, there is no external evidence.
  • If the outlet is warm to the touch, damaged or black scorch marks are evident it should be replaced immediately.

Internal switch and outlet components do ware-out and fail and as a result often leave the owner questioning, what’s happening. Any of the issues described above could indicate a fire threat and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Loose or Arching Electrical Switch’s and Outlets

Loose or arching switches or outlets is considered a serious condition and should be inspected by a certified licenced electrician.

Signs for Concern

  • Black scorch marks around plug.
  • Black marks on the face of the cover plate or around the exterior edge.
  • Cover plate discolouration.
  • Cracks in the plastic outlet or switch body.
  • Partial cover plate is missing or damaged.

If these conditions exist in your house there is cause for concern and these electrical issues should be inspected and repaired as soon as possible.

GFI and Arc Fault Electrical Outlets

Do you know the Difference between a GFI and an Arc Fault?

GFI

A Ground Fault Interrupter is an electrical safety device designed to quickly break the flow of current when it detects current leakage to the ground. Its function is to protect equipment and people from serious shock.

Arc Fault

An Ark Fault Circuit interrupter is a device that detects electrical arcs that are the main signs of a loose connection in-home wiring. A loose connection over time can become hot enough to ignite a house fire.

Do you know where these devices are located and why?

An Ark Fault Breaker is located within the Main Electrical Panel, Ark Fault breakers have a visual test button that can be pushed to test if the breaker is functioning properly.

To test the Ark Fault breaker, press the reset on the face of the breaker and it should flip to the off position, once tested you will need to reset the breaker back to the on position.  The plug outlets powered by this breaker are in bedrooms, finished basement areas, and will also feed several other appliances as required by BC code. 

GFCI outlets appear similar in shape to any regular plug although it has 2 test buttons on the face, one test and 1 to reset the outlet. To test the operation of GFCI press the test button and an audible click will be heard, the outlet is switched off. To reset the GFCI press the reset button and the devise will reset and you will hear a click and see a visual green light appear indicating the powers on.

GFCI Outlet or Ark Fault Protection problems

  • Does your GFCI need to be reset all the time.
  • Is it hard to reset the GFCI?
  • Is the GFCI buzzing or making noise.
  • Does it have to be reset regularly.

If any of these issues occur, your GFCI or the circuit is problematic and should be tested and repaired. Remember there is a TEST button on your GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet. If you press the button and the outlet doesn’t trip this indicates a problem, for quick service please call PTX Electric.

Ungrounded Outlets or Switches

The potential for serious injury is a potential concern when working with ungrounded electrical components and wiring in homes constructed 30 years plus. If you own an older home or facility a complete electrical inspection is recommended.

Dangers of an ungrounded electrical system.

  • A properly grounded electrical system will prevent ground shorts. An ungrounded system could pose an electrical shock risk and be life threatening.
  • Older ungrounded electrical systems can be hard to detect from a visual glance as it’s a back of house issue. Older home system wiring may not have ground wire. Sometimes the outlets have been updated but they are not grounded but look adequate. A certified electrician can easily verify with the appropriate tools and testers.
  • If the electrical switch or outlet is black in colour and made of Bakelite they are likely ungrounded receptacles.
  • If the plug outlets do not have 3 slots one being a ground terminal, it is an ungrounded receptacle.
  • Only use three pronged plugs as they are grounded.
  • Getting Shocks off plugs or switches.
  • Reversed polarity can occur if the outlet is wired incorrectly.
  • (Reversed neutral and line)
  • Many of these electrical systems have Aluminum and or a mix of Coper wire.
  • Specifically designed outlets and switches are required when aluminum wiring is found.
  • Loose or frayed wires combined with worn-out outlets and switches are a dangerous combination that has caused countless house fires.
  • Loose or taped wiring connections is one of the most common causes of electrical fires.

If your home or facility electrical system have any of these issues, please give PTX Electric a call and we will make you safe.

New Appliances

If you are planning to purchase and install new appliances, please call us first. We can pre-inspect your home or business to ensure your electrical system can handle the load.

On many occasions, we receive calls from home or building owners and they want to add an extra stove or hot tub, air-conditioning, clothes dryers, pool pumps etc. Most homes and small businesses were designed and built for single-use dwellings and never calculated for major appliance upgrades.

In many cases, a home has only a 60 or 100amp electrical service and cannot handle added load. We don’t want you to purchase new appliances and find out after the fact you need a new 200amp electrical panel to handle the load. The cost for a new 200amp panel is 4,800-7,200 dollars. Call PTX Electric first and we will save you dollars.

How Multiple Renovations affect Your Electrical Service

If a home or building has undergone several renovations with minimal or no Electrical code inspections, it is a major concern. Several customers we service have had to spend thousands of dollars to complete electrical upgrades to correct load violations and poor workmanship.

When renovating your property installing new outlets or switches here and there doesn’t look good and you are possibly leaving old unsafe receptacles in service. For minimal dollars, all the old switches and outlets should be replaced during a renovation, and you will get the best bang for your dollar spent.

When planning a home or building renovation take your time and include the professionals required to ensure you get what you want. PTX Electric works hand in hand with many Architects, Engineers and General contractors to ensure your dream is brought to life, with minimal errors or omissions.

Developing an equipment and appliance list is essential, it will allow the electrical design to right-size the electrical service. Understanding your present-day need and future wants helps us to prepare for that future hot tub that you want but can’t afford today. We recommend all switches and outlets be changed when doing a renovation. It gives you 20 years, worry-free.

Electrical Renovation Project

Let PTX Electric help you plan your electrical requirements for you upcoming renovation.

With most renovations, it seems to be building design, design, design.

Then, Oh yah, what about the electrical?

We hate being the last guys in because sometimes we have to say, no that won’t work, can’t go there, ahh nope, not enough power.

We can make your project a success let PTX Electric help you plan, from the start to the finish.

Selling Your Home

Selling your home is a big decision and spending money on your home for sale, is harder yet.

It’s a given basic that a basic facelift will sell your home faster and get the highest dollar result. Replacing all the electrical outlets and switches in your home with our new Décor style products will make your home look modern, fresh and give the purchaser confidence that the electrical system has been inspected and necessary repairs completed.

The cost to replace all the switches, outlets complete with covers in a 1,200 square foot home runs anywhere from 1,200 to 2,200 dollars, based upon the fixture count. This seems like minimal dollars when you spread it over 20 years.

If you spent 2,200 dollars it works out to (110 dollars a year) It is a small price to pay when it could save your home and maybe your life.

Hire a Licensed Electrician

PTX Electric Ltd strongly recommends replacing your outlets and switches is not a DIY project, leave it to a certified electrician to update and correct all your electrical needs. Make a list of all your concerns and we can provide a budget that works for you.

A licensed electrical contractor knows how to properly inspect and test your outlets and switches. They’ll check for signs of electrical damage like cracking, peeling, scorch marks that indicate fixture failure. In addition, we will advise the customer if there is a need for other repairs such as faulty breakers, wiring or if the main distribution panel is at its end of life and needs to be replaced.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if your home or facility is 20years old lifecycle replacement of all-electric switches and outlets is a must. So don’t hold off to long, your properties life could depend on it.

We hope we have answered most of your questions in this blog, but if you have additional queries, please feel free to call us at PTX Electric and we will do our best to answers all your questions.

Further Reading

How To Upgrade Your Electrical Panel

What Colour Temperature Lights Should You Use?

10 Reasons You Should Replace Outdated Electrical Outlets and Switches

Electrical Projects DIYers Shouldn’t Take On

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