Replacing electrical outlet

Old 02-25-03, 10:05 AM
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Replacing electrical outlet

My mom has an electrical outlet which has gone bad in her home. She says that it's black around where the prongs of the appliance would be placed in the plug.

I am sure the outlet is many years old. My question this a simple replace the outlet job or is this some indication of something more serious in the wiring?

We know how to replace the outlets but I just don't want to replace them and cover up a deeper problem.

There isn't anything else wrong in the house which would lead me to believe that there is a problem. I am just being overly cautious, especially when it comes to electricity!

Thanks for your help!
Old 02-25-03, 10:48 AM
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Sounds like arc marks on the receptacle. Does she remember how they got there? Could be from a short in an appliance she plugged in. That could explain how the receptacle "went bad". Check the circuit breakers and see if one is tripped. If so, it is possible that your mother plugged in an appliance that contained a short and thereby tripped the breaker. At any rate, the problem should be no deeper than the receptacle itself. Cut the power off and pull the receptacle away from the box and inspect it. If it isn't "falling apart" and if there aren't any hot spots (molten metal) inside the receptacle where the cord cap prongs are inserted then you can probably just wipe off the black and not change the receptacle.

Just remember that just because a lamp doesn't work when plugged in doesn't mean that the power is off to the wiring in the box.
Old 02-25-03, 10:51 AM
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No, that is not a problem with other things, someone just plugged in something under load or the recept was worn enough to do some arcing. Its a good idea to replace it, just remember that you cannot place a 3 prong one in place of a 2 prong one.
Old 02-25-03, 03:03 PM
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Some things to watch out for:
  • If the receptacle is switched, or half switched, special wiring will be required.
  • If there are red wires in the box in addition to black wires, special wiring will be required.
  • If the wire is aluminum, stop and call a professional. Expect this if the house was built between about 1965 and 1973.
  • If the receptacle has no grounding hole, then replace it with another one with no grounding hole.
  • If the insulation on the wire is crumbling, stop and call a professional.

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