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5 Signs Your Powerpoint Needs Replacing

The Importance of Electrical Powerpoint Safety

Electrical safety is paramount in any home, whether that home is shared by the family or you live alone.

Many homes in Australia now have a residual current device (RCD, maybe better known as an electrical safety switch) installed to cut off power in the switchboard.

Laws regarding safety switches vary state by state, but generally most if not all newly built homes in Australia are required to have one.

We’ve all had basic electrical safety rules – don’t use electrical appliances near water, don’t stick knives in toasters, don’t play with live wires – drummed into us since we were kids. But do we know what to do if a powerpoint stops working, or how to determine if it needs to be replaced?

A faulty powerpoint can pose a potential hazard but examining it to determine if it is faulty in the first place might also be hazardous if not done safely. There can be faults with switches, cords, plugs, or the electrical outlets.

In those situations, it may be better to just get the powerpoint replaced. Let’s explore some of the tell-tale signs that your powerpoint has seen better days, and what you need to do.

1. It’s Just Not Working

If you’ve plugged an appliance into the powerpoint and that appliance is not turning on, either it or the powerpoint isn’t working.

Plug the item into another socket in your home and if it works there, you can safely assume the first powerpoint is no longer working and needs to be replaced. This is a simple way to check any power points that might be faulty.

2. Faceplate is Cracked or Discoloured

When the powerpoint face plate starts cracking, shows signs of brittleness, or starts to look discoloured, it not only looks aesthetically unappealing but also can be potentially hazardous.

Dirt, dust and other particles can get into the cracks in the faceplate, build up over time and become a fire or electrocution risk.

Brittle and discoloured powerpoints are signs of long-term use that could lead to chipping or cracking. Temporarily place some duct tape over it to stop yourself and others from using it, and call a licensed electrical contractor to replace it for you.

3. Power Outlet is Sparking

Powerpoints can often emit the occasional spark. If you pull out a cord while the power point is still on, or switch a power point off or on that has had a recent heavy electrical load in it, that can lead to the occasional spark.

However, if that power point has not been used very recently and is nevertheless emitting sparks, it’s likely that the wiring behind it has come loose or the power point itself is of a low quality.

Either way, replacement by a qualified electrical contractor is the safest option.

Power outlet on fire

4. Powerpoint is Smoking and a Fire Hazard

Sometimes, the same factors that might lead to your powerpoint sparking – dust or dirt build up, loose wiring, overloaded circuits – may instead lead to smoke being emitted.

If you can see or even smell smoke coming from the powerpoint area, remove any appliances currently plugged into the powerpoint (if you can).

If it is safe to do so, feel the faceplate and the wall immediately surrounding it; if there is excessive heat and there is smoke coming out, there may be a fire behind the walls.

The faceplate may also appear like it has suffered some melting or show signs of having burned. You may be able to take care of the smoke with a fire extinguisher – do not douse it with water – as long as the volume of smoke is controllable.

If it’s too big, or you don’t feel comfortable taking care of matters yourself, certainly get out of the house and call 000 for your local fire brigade.

5. Plugs Don't Stay Secured in the Socket

If you try to plug an appliance in, and the plug feels loose or simply falls out, there is possibly some damage that has occurred to the powerpoint through natural wear and tear over years of continued use.

It’s very likely to be that the small springs and contact points that keep the plug secured and in place have loosened over time. Best to err on the side of caution and look at getting the powerpoint replaced.

Better Safe Than Sorry

When it comes to replacing power points, it’s always best to keep the basic principles of electrical home safety in mind, and have an experienced, qualified electrical contractor take care of the job for you.

They’ll ensure the powerpoint is installed safely and correctly and will issue you with a certificate of compliance on completion of the job showing that it was carried out by a licensed professional. In short, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See our Terms & Conditions here.

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