When is it time for a switch or outlet change?
Updated: May 21, 2020
When is it time for a change? It is a broad question to ask and we definitely need to narrow down the context here. I am talking about electrical related changes of course...which narrows us to the fun remodel projects and the more essential day to day things we depend on like switches and receptacles. Considering all things electrical, there are some practical rules of thumb when it comes to changing out things we regularly use like switches, receptacles, ceiling fans, attic fans, circuit breakers, and lights.
Have you ever heard of, or used the saying, "if isn't broke, don't fix it"? Well there is common sense in this phrase; however, there is also some definite danger in this phrase as well. It should be obvious, when the smell of burnt plastic and wood is permeating your home or building, when sparks are flying out, when lights stop working in the house, that you need an electrical repair. What is not obvious is how that burnt switch, receptacle, or other outlet was doing just before a major/obvious problem happened. Over time everything physical wears out. Nothing electrical lasts forever. It is good to keep in mind this rule of thumb for your switches on receptacles in your home or other buildings: consider changing your regularly used switches every 10 years and your regularly used receptacles every 15 - 20 years. The reason being is that over regular use, as the switch or receptacle was intended for, it is going to exchange lots of electrons and heat from passing current that eventually wears out the conductors and surrounding materials of that device.
If you have not changed your switches or receptacles in the last 20-30 years, you really should consider doing that before you experience that really obvious need to replace them. Often, when a switch or receptacle breaks down, it is not during a convenient time for anyone. This practice is something I call preventative maintenance. It keeps you and your home safer when you do it than when you do not. If it helps you understand, compare it to changing out batteries in your fire alarms...you do that to stay safe.
If you do need help changing a receptacle, switch, or need a general electrical inspection done at your home, you can call Safe Current Electric to help anytime.