Why “Loose” Electrical Outlets Are Dangerous and How to Fix Them

October 21, 2019
Updated January 2024

When you plug in an appliance, does the entire outlet shift? That’s an annoying problem. It’s also dangerous. Because loose outlets can disrupt the flow of electricity, they have the potential to cause arcing, a serious fire hazard. Fortunately, simple fixes for loose outlets can help improve the safety of your home.

Floating Outlets

Every electrical receptacle in your home should sit flush with the wall. If the receptacle isn’t lined up right, the cover plate might be all that’s holding it in place. The plate alone isn’t strong enough to hold the receptacle still when you plug in and unplug devices. The repeated stress on the plate may cause it to crack. Even worse, the continual shifting of the electrical connections could lead to a dangerous fire.

To fix the problem of a floating outlet, purchase plastic electrical spacers. Unscrew the receptacle from the wall, slide these small tabs onto the ends of the screws, and reattach the receptacle. You may need to stack a few spacers to get the proper fit. The next time you plug something in, you’ll notice that the receptacle is anchored firmly in place.

Recessed Outlets

burnt outlet

A similar problem occurs when the receptacle is pushed too far into the wall. Instead of the unit resting firmly on the wall, the electrical box behind it provides its support. Each time the receptacle shifts position, there’s an increased chance that wires may come loose, leading to a house fire.

Plastic spacers are often useful for fixing recessed outlets. You can also purchase an electrical box extender. To install an extender, disconnect the cover and the receptacle. Slide the outlet’s wires through the opening in the extender, and then fit the extender into the wall. When you reassemble the outlet and cover, you should find that they hold much more snugly.

Professional Assistance

These outlet fixes can be DIY projects, but if you’d rather leave electrical work to the professionals, turn to Brennan Electric. We provide services related to electrical installations, electrical repairs, panel upgrades, inspections and surge protection throughout the Seattle and Lynnwood area. Book your appointment with one of our trusted electricians today.

Contact Brennan Electric today

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