Given how common electrical outlets are in each and every household, often times they run into various hiccups. They might either need a simple fix or need to be replaced completely.

But while a dead outlet is waiting to be fixed or replaced, is it safe? Or is a dead outlet dangerous?

A dead outlet is dangerous because, depending on the problem, it might spark a fire. A dead outlet should not be overlooked. The insulation around the wiring around an outlet begins to melt when it absorbs too much heat from the source, exposing the wires. Exposed wires have a greater risk of shorting out and causing a fire.

So, it turns out dead outlets aren’t as harmless as most of us might think. Therefore, I will try my best to educate about you the dangers of a dead outlet, and the methods of troubleshooting a dead outlet.

What Is a Dead Outlet?

A dead outlet is an outlet that cannot properly supply power to any appliances due to various issues. Dead outlets are common in every household all over the globe.

Dead outlets can happen due to several reasons. Bad or faulty wiring, old wiring, broken or damaged outlet, issues with the circuit, etc. Based on the cause of the problem, you may either have to fix or replace the outlet.

Regardless of how harmless a dead outlet may seem; they possess both a fire hazard as well as an electrical hazard to the residents of the household.

Therefore, it is highly advised to tend to any dead outlets as soon as possible. And take professional help if necessary.

Are Dead Outlets Dangerous? What Risks do they Possess?

Most of us may often see dead outlets as just a harmless and annoying nuisance. However, that is not the case. Is a dead outlet dangerous? If so, why?

Let’s delve into the threats and dangers that a dead outlet might contribute to.

Dangers of a dead outlet:

  1. Dead outlets are potential fire hazards. And electrical fires are classified as Class C fires.
  2. Many people don’t comprehend the risks of a dead outlet and leave them unattended for a prolonged period. However, if they have shorted inside, it can lead to excess heat generation, which in turn might cause a fire.
  3. The outlet may seem dead in general, but the positive or hot terminal may still be properly functional. If it comes in contact with a human, it will electrocute the said person. Which might be deadly in the worst-case scenario.
  4. Tracking via faulty insulation or a partial short might deteriorate with time. It might not be bad enough to blow the fuse, but it is bad enough to cause the plastic to burn.
  5. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission provides a rough estimation that hospital emergency rooms treat 3,900 injuries each year, which are caused by electrical outlets.

So, a dead outlet is more than an annoyance. It’s also a fire hazard, which is why it’s best left to a skilled electrician to fix. This is especially true for older homes that haven’t had their wiring updated in years.

How To Troubleshoot And Fix A Dead Outlet?

If you are wondering what to do with a dead outlet, look no further. I will provide a step-by-step guide to troubleshooting and fixing a dead outlet. Let’s begin.

Identifying the Cause of the Issue:

The first step is to determine the reason behind the outlet not having any power. It can be a broken or damaged outlet, or it may be due to faulty wiring. Whatever the cause, the first step is to identify it. However, the steps to gfci outlet troubleshooting may be different.

Overloading an Outlet:

When an outlet is overloaded, it receives more current than it was designed to handle. When you plug in too many appliances or gadgets at once, you risk overloading the circuit. Loose connections can cause a circuit overload in rare instances.

Short Circuits:

A short circuit occurs when the active and neutral wires come into contact. When the wires come into contact, a considerable amount of current is released, immediately overloading the circuit and generating a short circuit.

A bursting sound, smoke, and sparks are all common indications of a short circuit. The active and neutral wires may come into contact with pests such as rodents nibbling on them, as well as faulty connections and damaged wires.

Damaged or Faulty Wiring:

The dead outlet might be the result of a faulty connection with loose screws and broken cables. According to federal and state electrical codes, a junction box is required. Metal or plastic may be used for the junction box. Loose wires or missing fasteners within the box might cause the connections to provide the outlet with little or no electricity.

Checking the outlet:

To make sure that the issue is with the outlet and not with the appliance which you are trying to power, you can follow a few steps.

  1. Use a non-contact voltage tester to ensure that there is no voltage or power in the outlet.
  2. Try to power the outlet with other outlets around your household. If the appliance does not work in those outlets as well, the issue resides with the appliance and not the outlet.
  3. Or use a separate appliance to ensure that the outlet is truly dead.

Fixing a dead outlet:

There are several steps to fix a dead outlet. I will go over them in short.

Common Wiring Diagram for a GFCI Outlet
Fig 1- Common Wiring Diagram for a GFCI Outlet
  1. Turn off the power supply to your house from the main panel.
  2. Check whether the issue is with the outlet itself or the wiring.
  3. If the issue is due to faulty wiring, rewire the entire outlet circuit.
  4. However, if the issue is with the outlet and must be replaced, then you must acquire a new outlet.
  5. Remove the old outlet from the socket.
  6. Rewire the new outlet to the wall socket.

So, if your outlet stopped working for some reason, these are the steps that you have to follow in order to either troubleshoot or fix the outlet.

Summary

So, is a dead outlet dangerous? Yes, definitely. I hope that this article has helped you understand the potential risks that a dead outlet might possess. I have also provided detailed instructions on how to fix or troubleshoot a dead outlet.

However, if you face any issues regarding the issue of a dead outlet, or feel confused with any step, feel free to consult an electrician. As the cost of replacing a dead outlet isn’t much.

References: