Bad wall outlet?


Old 02-17-04, 11:27 AM
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Bad wall outlet?

I have one room in my 14 year old house with two separate wall outlets that appear to be "bad." They both have black "burn" marks on them, one of them produces sparks whenever any plug is inserted.

I have not checked any wiring on the outlets. Might the outlet need replaced?

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Old 02-17-04, 11:31 AM
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Yes, the outlets need replacing. And perhaps some of the wire. When you put the new ones in, use the screws, not the holes in the back. If the receptacles are switched, post back before proceeding. And as always, shut off the breaker first.
Old 02-17-04, 11:32 AM
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Any outlet that has been subjected to sparks is in need of replacement. Whether the outlet produced the sparks or not, it is not worth it to guess whether the outlet is bad or not. Replace it. You have to do the work of removing it and checking the wiring anyway.
Old 02-17-04, 02:08 PM
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Thanks for the info!

Thanks for the reply, I will go ahead and replace the outlet. Being the DIY novice that I am, I do have one quick clarifying question: John Nelson posted "And perhaps (replace) some of the wire. When you put the new ones in, use the screws, not the holes in the back."

I don't understand the statement: "When you put the new ones in, use the screws, not the holes in the back." Can this be clarified?

Also, under what circumstances would the wire need to be replaced?

Thank YOU!
Old 02-17-04, 02:14 PM
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Most outlets have two ways of connecting the wires. The screws on the sides, and holes on the back that you can simply push wires into (the wires are held by a sort of racheting spring tension). The push-in "Quick Connect" or "Backstab" connections are often a source of problems down the road, so most here prefer not to use them.

As for replacing the wire, if the problem was extremely bad, you may have charred insulation on the wires inside the box, in which case they may need to be replaced. I've seen this happen in our duplex which is 1920's construction, where the rubber insulation was scorched and crumbled away from the conductor.
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