Electric Plugs and Switches


Why Replacing Plugs and Switches Isn’t Always as Straightforward as it Looks

Electric plugs (outlets) and switches are to your home’s electrical system as tires are to your car: this is where the rubber meets the road. These deceptively simple devices are where you and your family use and direct the flow of electricity throughout your home. Just like tires, outlets and switches, especially in high-traffic areas of the home, eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Depending on the age of the home and the type of wiring system that runs through it, replacing plugs or switches can be fraught with more complications than the do-it-yourself websites would suggest. For your safety, it is always a good idea to call an experienced electrician for any electrical wiring jobs around the house, including replacing outlets and switches.

Signs that Your Plugs and Switches Need Replacement

A worn plug or switch may show several different signs that it needs to be replaced:
If the switch feels loose, or fails to perform its appointed function, it most likely needs replacement.

  • Some switches may produce a cracking sound, and the lights may flicker when you attempt to use the switch to turn them on.
  • Outlet plugs ordinarily used for vacuum cleaners or electrical yard equipment often wear out faster than others.
  • A worn outlet loses its ability to hold on to an appliance plug; in other words, the plug will simply fall out of the outlet with very little intervention.
  • An obsolete outlet might also lose power, either partially or completely when someone plugs an appliance into it.
  • If you have an older house with several two-prong outlets that do not accommodate modern three-pronged plugs, they need to be replaced for safety reasons.
  • Modern building codes actually require the installation of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets, particularly in bathrooms and kitchens where there is a danger of water near the outlet. These GFCI outlets accept three-prong plugs and feature a safety reset button, and they protect people from electrical shock by shutting off power locally at the outlet if there is a problem.

For both plugs and switches, always consider the age of the plugs and switches, as well as traffic usage. Chances are, if any of the above conditions exist, the outlet or switch needs to be replaced. We can replace outlets and switches with the usual “toggle” switches and “duplex” outlets, or we can also install “decorator” and rocker switches and outlets.

These guys are great. They installed recessed lighting in my living room and two new ceiling fans from scratch in the bedrooms. Highly recommend them, they do great work and amazing customer service.

Brandon Hogan 
Fairfax Station, VA                 

Call on Our Northern Virginia Electricians for a Safe Switch

If you suspect your outlet plugs and switches need to be replaced, please call us here at Root Electric before trying to do it yourself. Although it may seem easy to change some outlets or switches, there could be several underlying wiring issues that need to be addressed before they can be safely switched. For example, if you live in a home built between 1964 and 1976, your outlets and switches may need to have aluminum wiring dealt with to avoid a fire hazard. Also, GFCI outlets can be complicated to install. In either case, the experienced hands of one of our Northern Virginia electricians can replace the outlets and switches while also addressing any underlying fire hazards within the wiring, thereby making your home safer.

Call us today at (703) 494- 3989 for help replacing outlet plugs and switches.


Satisfaction / Safety First Since 1986