How Long Do Electrical Outlets Last & 10 Signs You Need To Replace Them

Did you know electrical outlets have a limited lifespan? Sometimes, old outlets’ lifespan can be surprisingly short; we’ve heard of electrical outlets lasting only 5 years or less.

Even if your old outlets are still working, they might be outdated in terms of electrical capacity or safety features. To keep your home or business safe and efficient, replace electrical outlets in any of the 10 scenarios described below.

How Long Do Electrical Outlets Last?

Standard outlets, when frequently used: Up to 15 years (but may fail as soon as 5 years)

Standard outlets, when rarely used: Potentially as long as 30 years

GFCI outlets (ground fault circuit interrupters): 15-25 years (however, they should be tested regularly)

Look at your outlets regularly to check they are in good shape. If you spot any concerning issues or buy a new large appliance, discuss outlet replacement with a knowledgeable electrician.

Signs You Need To Replace Electrical Outlets

1. Non-Working Outlet

When your home or has one or more outlets that are non-functional, don’t just ignore the situation — have it checked out. A non-working outlet is not necessarily an isolated problem; it can affect the other components of your electrical system. For example, you may find that all the outlets in one room stop functioning.

2. Old Home/Building

When your old home or building still has all its original outdated outlets (or even some of them), beware! Electrical outlets wear out with age and use – even when unplugging appliances and its metal plug scrapes against the outlet’s terminals. Eventually, that adds up to a great deal of wear and tear, resulting in loosened connections which reduce outlet function and safety.

This issue often goes hand in hand with ageing electrical wiring, which has deteriorated dangerously. Upgraded outlets can help, but in such a case, you might need to upgrade your wiring, too. If you’re already planning renovations, this is a perfect time.

3. Two-Pronged Outlets

Another problem in older buildings is two-pronged outlets. Unlike the modern three-pronged version, two-prong outlets do not have a ground wire to redirect an overload of current safely into the ground. The result of using a two-pronged outlet — even one that appears to be in good condition — can be an electrical fire or severe electric shock.

4. Damaged or Cracked Outlet

They’re not only unsightly. Outlets or outlet covers that show signs of cracking or other damage are electrical hazards as well. Why? They open the door (so to speak) to a buildup of dust, pet hair, and other flammable materials inside the outlet.

5. Burnt Outlet

You’ll recognize a burnt outlet by scorch marks, blackish or brown discolouration, or melted areas on the faceplate. These are warning signals that might mean the outlet sparked or short-circuited due to dangerous moisture leakage. CAUTION: Never use burnt outlets. Instead, call for emergency electrical repair.

6. Outlet Is Loose

Sometimes an outlet will feel wobbly or have loose connections when you try to plug in a device. This often occurs because the outlet has been pushed too deeply into your wall or was never correctly lined up. A loose outlet can interrupt the electrical connection, causing the flow of electricity to “jump” or cause an electric arc, putting your building at risk for a devastating electrical fire.

7. Plugs Fall Out Easily

Your electrical outlets contain tiny springs. As these degrade, you may no longer be able to fit plugs securely inside — or you’ll connect a plug, only to have it fall out due to its weight. More than just annoying, this is a red flag that could lead to arcing or sparking inside the wall.

8. Smoke Or Sparks Coming From Outlet

Watch out! Smoke or sparks coming from an outlet are shouting “Danger!”) loud and clear. Turn off the power to the outlet at your breaker box and contact a qualified electrician immediately.

9. Flickering Lights

Flickering lights rarely stem from issues with the lights themselves. Rather, they indicate your electrical system is just not adequate for today’s plethora of appliances. Ask a reliable electrician service about replacing the outlet — or your entire electrical panel.

10. New Large Appliance

When you invest in a major appliance such as an air conditioner or clothes dryer, enjoy it safely by installing a dedicated outlet to accommodate your new purchase—ditto for built-ins like garbage disposals and dishwashers.

For A Safe Efficient Electrical System

To keep your electrical system running as safely and efficiently as can be, call the experts at Sun Electrical!

Our qualified electricians will perform an on-premises inspection and make valuable recommendations — just as we did for Rich F. This happy Sun customer posted the following 5-star Google Review:

Evan did a great job figuring out the wiring and replacing the electrical outlet. He was fast, friendly and informative. Awesome job!

Post-inspection, with your okay, we’ll take care of necessary electrical upgrades and repairs. Our goal is your peace of mind.

I NEED PROFESSIONAL ADVICE FROM A LICENSED ELECTRICIAN