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Review Provident Electrics Tip for a Clean Outlet Cover

We understand electrical outlets are easy to overlook while cleaning, regardless of how often we use them. If you’re like most homeowners, you don’t think about your outlets or light switches until something is wrong. While replacing a malfunctioning outlet is best left to professionals, Provident Electric has created a guide to help you clean outlets and light switches. If, while you’re cleaning, you think something is off, give us a call. We proudly serve Frederick, Mt Airy, Germantown, Westminster, and Middletown, MD. Cleaning your outlets is important as dust can build up on the surface and prevent cords from contacting, which could lead to an electrical fire. To keep everything looking and performing great, take some time to clean your outlets today.

How to Safely Clean Your Outlet and Light Switch Cover

Cleaning your outlets and light switches only takes a few steps, meaning you’ll be able to clean all your outlets in no time. Before you get started, you must switch off your circuit breaker and ensure the power is off. This is imperative if you want to avoid all possible chances of electrocution. A great way to check if the power is out is to plug a lamp into the outlet and turn it on. Once the power is safely off, you can remove the outlet. We recommend using a piece of tape to keep from losing any screws. You can soak the cover in warm, soapy water while vacuuming any exposed dust. Compressed air can help remove dust caught in small crevices, and any remaining dirty can be cleaned with a cotton swap and some isopropyl alcohol. When everything is cleaned, pull out the outlet and scrub it well. Ensure everything is dry, get your screws and replace the outlet. Turn your breaker back on when all your outlets and light switches are cleaned. Here are some additional bits of information we think you should know about cleaning light switches and outlets:

  • Protect Your Little Ones – This is a project that’s best handled without the help of your little ones. After watching you mess with the outlet and insert something they may think is safe to do. Even with the breaker off, it’s a great idea to keep children away from exposed electrical boxes.
  • Floor vs. Wall Outlets and Switches – Regardless of where the outlet or light switch sits, this cleaning method works for both. Don’t hesitate to add this to your monthly cleaning routine.
  • Outdoor Outlets – Depending on how you have your outdoor outlets, they can get dirtier faster. We recommend not forgetting about your outdoor outlets as they can benefit from a cleaning and may work better after.
  • Cleaning Wall Switch Plates – More often than not, light switches are dirtier than outlets. They’re usually high-traffic areas and have grime and dirt around the switch. Don’t be afraid to use a toothbrush to help clean those hard-to-reach areas.
  • Call for Help When You Need it – If you find exposed or frayed wires or anything you find to be suspicious, don’t hesitate to call our team for help. We have the experience and skills to quickly and efficiently address issues or concerns.

Importance of Electrical Outlet Maintenance

The electrical system in your home should always be in good shape. Not only does your system need to provide power to your home safely, but it needs to deliver power to meet all your needs. Further, there should only be two spots to interact with your home electrical wiring, outlets, and light switches. One of the leading causes of electrical fires and electrocutions is faulty outlets and light switches. To avoid issues, it’s essential to keep up with regular electrical maintenance. Here are some reasons that help highlight the importance of electrical outlet maintenance, including:

  • Protect Your Outlets and Switches – Your outlets and switches are designed to keep you and your family safe from any electrical current. If they’re cracked or damaged in any way, they lose their effectiveness. To help avoid any damage, be careful when moving furniture around.
  • Avoid Electrical Overloads – Did you know an electrical overload can damage your outlets? To help prevent overloads, plug all significant appliances into a wall outlet. If you’re unsure if your home can support a new appliance, call our professionals for help. We can inspect your system and provide recommendations based on your needs.
  • Ungrounded Outlets – In older homes, it is not uncommon to find ungrounded outlets or outlets connected with old, outdated wiring. To avoid issues and ensure your home is safe, old outlets should be replaced with modern grounded outlets.
  • Worn Out Outlets – As time goes on, your outlets can become worn out from overuse. This is especially true when cords are not properly unplugged. Inserting a plug into an outlet should feel snug and not overly tight or loose. If it feels loose, it’s time to call our team.
  • Improperly Installed or Damaged – When wiring receptacles are improperly wired, it can be dangerous and could lead to an electrical fire. Any electrical wiring should be handled by a trained and licensed electrician.
  • Non-Childproof Outlets – You shouldn’t rely on traditional outlet covers if young ones are running around. We recommend investing in tamper-resistant receptacles to keep your children safe. These outlets will deactivate when a foreign object is detected.
  • Outlets Without GFCI in Wet Areas – GFCI outlets, or ground fault circuit interrupters, are a style of outlet designed to deactivate at the first sign of moisture. These outlets are required to be in areas such as your kitchen, bathroom, laundry room, and certain outdoor applications.

How Long Do Outlets Last?

You may wonder how often you should update and replace your electrical outlet. It comes down to the style of outlet you have installed. There are a few different styles used throughout Maryland. The most common are the three-prong outlet and the GFCI outlet. We’ve compiled a list of the three most common types we have seen and how long they’re estimated to last:

  • Two-Prong Outlets – If you have any two-prong outlets in your home, it’s beyond time to replace them. These outlets lack a vital grounding wire, increasing the chance of electrical fire. We can easily replace these with either standard three-prong or GFCI outlets, depending on their location.
  • Three-Prong Outlets – These are the most common and recommended outlet styles. They traditionally last 15 years. However, if you don’t use that outlet often, it should last up to 30 years, but we recommend replacing it around the 15-year mark.
  • GFCI Outlets – GFCI outlets traditionally last 15-25 years, but we recommend replacing them around the 15-year mark to ensure they work as intended. We also recommend routinely checking them with their built-in test and reset options.

Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Outlet or Light Switch

Like any other electrical device, your power outlets and switches can become faulty over time. For example, aging wiring systems, damaged covers, and electrical overloads are reasons an outlet can go bad. We believe it’s important to know how to tell if an outlet has started to malfunction. Take a look at some of the most common signs your outlets and light switches need professional help:

  • Outlet Not Working – One of the more obvious signs is if your outlet is no longer powering your device. It may be time to replace it if that happens. You can test if it’s just one outlet by testing the other outlets in the room. If it’s all of them, it may have been a tripped breaker, but if not, it’s time to replace it.
  • Scorch Marks or Melting Plastic – If you notice any discoloration or melted plastic, these are signs of short-circuiting or sparking. Any outlets in these conditions should not be used until a professional has inspected and corrected the issue.
  • Cracks and Chips – While it may not seem like a big deal to ignore any cosmetic damage, those chips allow dust and other debris to build up inside the outlet. If enough debris gathers, it can become kindling when a plug is inserted. We recommend replacing any damaged outlet or light switch as soon as possible.
  • Hot To The Touch – A hot outlet indicates worn out, damaged, or incorrect wiring. Any malfunction has the potential to cause an electrical fire. It’s best to never leave hot outlets to chance.
  • Smoke or Spark – If you see sparks or smell smoke near an outlet, you need to call an electrician as soon as possible. These are signs of severe issues with your outlet.

Why Choose Provident Electric?

Since 2002, Provident Electric has offered our local communities premium electrical services. We proudly serve both residential and commercial customers. Our seasoned electricians strive to provide courteous, efficient, and dependable services designed to provide comprehensive solutions without going over your budget. We’re trained to use industry-leading techniques and state-of-the-art equipment to ensure each project is done right the first time. You can rely on us to use premium products to deliver a superior customer experience. Throughout the entire project, our team will provide constant updates, ensuring you’re in the loop. We’ll work with you at each step of the process, from the initial consultation to project completion.

Trust Our Team With Your Electrical Needs

When you keep your outlets and light switches clean, it’s going to do more than help make your home look and feel cleaner. For most homeowners, this is a major benefit on its own. However, keeping up with cleaning can help you find issues before they become bigger. If you find an issue or are worried there may be other complications, don’t hesitate to give our team a call. We have the skills and training to perform a thorough inspection and identify any additional complications. Don’t hesitate to reach out to schedule your electrical services today.