How to Fix a Loose Electrical Outlet
What a nuisance! You thought your phone was charging as you slept, yet unknown to you, the plug fell from the electrical outlet. Now what? Do you need to call an electrician? Why is the electrical outlet loose?
Most often, the contact points of the outlet have worn out over time. However, damaged wiring can also cause the problem. (If you notice bad wiring when you attempt to fix a loose electrical outlet, contact a licensed professional electrician to determine if you have a bigger problem.) Loose electrical outlets can create sparks behind your walls, introducing a fire hazard.
When you have a loose electrical outlet, it’s best to replace the entire socket. (If you are uncomfortable with this DIY project, enlist the help of a licensed electrician. The entire job should take no more than one hour.)
1. Gather the proper tools – replacement outlet (15 amp, 20 amp or GFCI, as required), safety gloves, wire strippers, and insulated screwdrivers (flat head and Phillips), and voltage tester.
2. IMPORTANT: TURN OFF POWER TO THE OUTLET AT THE BREAKER. Use the voltage tester to test and ensure no electricity is flowing to the outlet.
3. Unscrew the outlet from its box.
4. Loosen the terminal screws to detach the wires. IMPORTANT: If you see signs of damaged wiring, scorching, or burning, stop the repair and contact an electrician immediately.
5. Consult the gauge on the wire stripper, and expose only enough wire to twist around the terminal screw.
6. Attach the wires to the new outlet, matching WHITE wire to SILVER screw, the BLACK wire to the BRASS screw, the GROUND wire to the GREEN screw on the outlet.
7. Carefully, push the outlet back into place.
8. Attach the new faceplate and restore power to the outlet.
This DIY project is relatively easy if you are familiar with electricity and the safety precautions associated with it. On the other hand, for peace of mind, you may want to hire a professional licensed electrician who can not only fix the outlet but also identify any larger underlying issues.
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