Want to tackle DIY outlet repair? Don’t make another move until you read this article!
DIY (do-it-yourself) home improvement projects can be so satisfying. After all, with many resources available to us for free, such as instructional online videos and library books, it’s easier than ever to educate yourself on repair and maintenance protocol, so you can upgrade or fix your house. However, some problems, like electrical outlet repair, are tricky to get right. Your home’s electrical and wiring systems are complex and potentially dangerous. If you want to try your hand at home outlet repair, here’s what you need to know before getting started… and how to know when it’s time to hire a licensed electrical technician.
How To Diagnose An Electrical Outlet Problem
Before you get started, you should do a few preliminary investigative tasks. First, check if the outlet is a GFCI outlet. GFCI stands for “ground fault circuit interrupter,” and these outlets are much safer than vintage options. If your home is relatively modern, or has had the electrical updated recently, you likely have GFCI outlets.
Once you have established the outlet is GFCI, hit the “reset” button. This often solves the problem, but if your outlet is still not working, check the circuit breaker. Flip the switch for the circuit in question all the way to the “off” position and then back to “on.” Any luck? If not, you will need to take the faceplate off the outlet. Inspect the wires and ensure that they are actually connected to the outlet in the proper configuration. Before doing that, read the following safety tips.
Staying Safe While Doing Outlet Repair
Although some homeowners choose to call an electrician at this point, you may want to inspect and work on the wiring yourself. If so, there are three major considerations to keep in mind. Here’s what the pros know about outlet repair.
- Turn off the circuit breaker (for goodness’ sake!) This one goes without saying, right? We hope. You absolutely must turn off the circuit breaker before beginning any kind of DIY electrical work, and that includes fixing or replacing an outlet.
- Test the breaker with a voltage meter. This is where many homeowners miss the mark. After cutting power from the breaker, you should use a voltage meter to ensure that the outlet is not live or hot. Voltage testers are relatively inexpensive, and an imperative tool for your kit if you plan on doing any sort of home electrical work.
- Have all of the right tools at the ready. Just as a proper chef wouldn’t begin cooking without the salt, oil, and garlic close at hand, an electrician won’t start work without all of the necessary tools. Although you don’t need to invest thousands of dollars in professional toolkits, you should have, at minimum, the following available to you: flat-head screwdriver, Phillips’ head screwdriver, voltage tester, a replacement outlet, and wire cutters/strippers. These are all available and low-cost at most home improvement stores and hardware stores.
When to Call an Electrician For Outlet Repair
Some problems should just be left for the professionals. If you feel unsafe or unsure in any way during the repair process, stop what you are doing and contact a professional (and don’t attempt to use the outlet in the meantime).
Even if you feel confident in your skills, halt work if the outlet starts sparking. Similarly, if you receive an electrical shock, stop what you are doing. This is a sign of unstable wiring, and it should be addressed with caution and safety protocol. If this occurs, be sure that all appliances or lights are unplugged from the outlet in question, and do not attempt further work.
Electrical outlet repair can be straightforward and satisfying to do. Your chances of a successful fix increase greatly when you feel prepared and ready to tackle the job. Work slowly without distractions, and always keep the safety of yourself and your family first in mind. Finally, don’t hesitate to call a professional at any point in the process. Your outlets will be back in business soon, and so will you.
Contact Blanton’s Air at (910) 249-4898 for all your Fayetteville or Raleigh, NC HVAC and plumbing needs.