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Discussion Starter #1
The home we just moved into has loose electrical outlets. If you plug something in, it will fall back out. Almost all outlets are like that with a few exceptions.

1. How come? I thought outlets were pretty standarized.
2. Easy enough for me to replace?
 

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I'm not an electrician, just a DIYer, but it sounds like you just need to replace the old worn receptacles.
Assuming that these are grounded circuits, you need to get the 3-hole receptacles. If the circuits are not grounded, you need to get 2-hole receptacles.
Turn off each circuit at the electrical panel, and connect the black (hot) wires to the brass screws on the receptacles, the white (neutral) wires to the silver screws, and the bare ground wires to the green ground screws on the receptacle and the boxes (if metal).
You should be able to connect them exactly like the old ones for everything to work properly.
Use an electrical tester voltage meter for safety checks before touching any wires.
Good Luck!
Mike
 

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Mike had some great tips. Another thing you may want to consider is purchasing an outlet tester. Its a small plug in tester with indicator lights that light up, and it will tell you if the outlet is wired correctly or what is incorrect.

In my house i found a few junction boxes where someone thought they knew what they were doing and the hot's and neutral's were crossed. Either the person was blind, Color blind, or just licked matching black to white, instead of keeping the colors together. :mad:

Bottom line is that if its an older house, who knows what was done, and the tester is an inexpensive, quick, easy way to make sure your wiring is done properly.
 

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Mike had some great tips. Another thing you may want to consider is purchasing an outlet tester. Its a small plug in tester with indicator lights that light up, and it will tell you if the outlet is wired correctly or what is incorrect.

In my house i found a few junction boxes where someone thought they knew what they were doing and the hot's and neutral's were crossed. Either the person was blind, Color blind, or just licked matching black to white, instead of keeping the colors together. :mad:

Bottom line is that if its an older house, who knows what was done, and the tester is an inexpensive, quick, easy way to make sure your wiring is done properly.

What happened as a result of the hot wires being tied to the neutral wires.
 

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1) This is evidently not uncommon, although I’m surprised to see it affect so much of the house (even assuming the house was wired with really cheap outlets, I will think it would only affect those used the most). I’ve even seen devices for sale, similar to spring scale, where you measure the force needed to pull of plug from a receptacle (not that I’ve ever seen anyone use them; just replace them if they cause a problem). In higher current applications I’ve even seen such a loose receptacle result in overheating of the plug.
2) Pay attention to whether you have any light switches that control half of a receptacle. If you do you’ll have to remove a metal tab to separate the top and bottom halves of the new receptacle, and pay attention to which wires go to the top or bottom outlet.
3) Even if the current outlets are three pronged, check to make sure that the ground is actually connected. For that matter, I’ve seen two pronged outlet in boxes to which a working ground had been run, and could easily be replaced with three pronged ones. Stagger19’s suggestion of picking up an outlet tester (they’re dirt cheap) as I have seen many reversed hots/neutrals. Even by supposedly professional electricians.
 

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Yeah, I too thought it was interesting that the whole house had worn outlets, but I guess the former owners were probably wigglers!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all the great replies.

It is quite surprising. Almost all outlets are loose. So this can happen just from "normal" wear and tear?

The house was built in 1986 and everything else is in excellent condition.
 

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WOW, 1986? that IS surprising. All I can think is that either the former owners wiggled the hell out of plugs to get them out of the outlets, or that the house was built with a bad batch of receptacles. Or both.
 

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Although it isn't too likely, it certainly is possible for a 20-year-old home to have many worn receptacles.
The plug-in receptacle tester is better than the voltage meter, as it tells you instantly if all is ok or what the wiring problem is.
Some good points added by all.
Just for a point-of-interest, you can install 2-prong outlets on a grounded circuit (but why? duh), but you should never install 3-prong outlets on an ungrounded circuit.
Mike
 

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Just for a point-of-interest, you can install 2-prong outlets on a grounded circuit (but why? duh), but you should never install 3-prong outlets on an ungrounded circuit.
Mike
The one exception being installing a GFCI outlet and affixing the "Equipment Ground Not Present" sticker.


The source of the problem still bugs me. What fraction of the outlets on a normal house are actually used regularly? Espically if you don't count items are plugged in, and left plugged in? Very werid.
 

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It could have been a bad lot of receptacles.
I must say, many devices from the 80's were cheap crap.
Even today's "cheap" receptacles are MUCH better than thier 80's equivalent.
I use regular grade receptacles quite often and find them very good, even long term. The are made much better than they used to and they have a powerful grip.
 

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We have the exactly same problem

Exactly the same problem as OP has. Our house is 17 years old and almost ALL of the outlets are loosing. geeze... cannot believe my eyes.

I'll replace all the receptacles. But the question is, which brand is better?

Lowes has this onsale:
Aspire™ 15-Amp Receptacle for only $2.85
but the similar part Aspire™ 15-Amp Receptacle GFCI costs $13.61.
what gives? :huh:

Any suggestions on the brand??

Thanks in advance!
 

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Lowes has this onsale:
Aspire™ 15-Amp Receptacle for only $2.85
but the similar part Aspire™ 15-Amp Receptacle GFCI costs $13.61.
what gives?
What gives? One is a GFI and one is a regular receptacle. BIG difference.

I happen to really like Cooper devices. Leviton is fine but I prefer Cooper.
Some like to use spec-grade receptacles which are 2-3 time the cost of standard residential devices since they are very heavy duty. In a home I really do not see the need. Newer devices are made very well and do last a very long time.
 

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The home we just moved into has loose electrical outlets. If you plug something in, it will fall back out. Almost all outlets are like that with a few exceptions.

1. How come? I thought outlets were pretty standarized.
2. Easy enough for me to replace?
This is the problem that brought about the AFCI (arc fault circuit interupter). These types of receptacles are code in bedrooms. Don't know why "bedroom" receptacles are considered to be the only unsafe ones in the house that need AFCI's
Speedy Petey...could you fill me in?
 

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So far there are no AFCI devices or receptacles, only breakers, which is fine as the NEC states the branch circuit must be protected, not simply the outlets.

Here is a good read:

The definition of arc-fault circuit interrupter given in 210.12(A) explains its function. The basic objective is to de-energize the branch circuit when an arc fault is detected.
Arc-fault circuit interrupters are evaluated in UL 1699, Standard for Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupters, using testing methods that create or simulate arcing conditions to determine the product's ability to detect and interrupt arcing faults. These devices are also tested to verify that arc detection is not unduly inhibited by the presence of loads and circuit characteristics that may mask the hazardous arcing condition. In addition, these devices are evaluated to determine resistance to unwanted tripping due to the presence of arcing that occurs in control and utilization equipment under normal operating conditions or to a loading condition that closely mimics an arcing fault, such as a solid-state electronic ballast or a dimmed load.
UL 1699 is the standard covering arc-fault devices that have a maximum rating of 20 amperes intended for use in 120-volt ac, 60-Hz circuits. These devices may also have the capability to perform other functions such as overcurrent protection, ground-fault circuit interruption, and surge suppression. UL 1699 currently recognizes five types of arc-fault circuit interrupters: branch/feeder AFCI, combination AFCI, cord AFCI, outlet AFCI, and portable AFCI.
Placement of the device in the circuit and a review of the UL guide information must be considered when complying with 210.12. The NEC is clear that the objective is to provide protection of the entire branch circuit. (See Article 100 for the definition of branch circuit.) For instance, a cord AFCI cannot be used to comply with the requirement of 210.12 to protect the entire branch circuit.
The type of AFCI required to comply with 210.12(B) is the subject of a revision in the 2005 Code. To expand the level of AFCI protection for cord sets that are plugged into receptacles supplied by AFCI-protected branch circuits, the use of combination-type AFCI devices is now required. However, mandatory use of only combination-type AFCI devices to comply with 210.12(B) becomes effective January 1, 2008. Until that effective date, the use of either a combination-type or a branch/feeder-type AFCI device meets the requirement of 210.12(B). In addition to the revised type of AFCI protection required, the location of where the AFCI device is to be located in the circuit now provides a new option. Because the protection requirement is for the entire branch circuit, location of the device at the point the branch circuit originates (service or feeder panelboard or similar distribution equipment) has been and continues to be the main requirement. However, the new exception permits the AFCI device to be located in close vicinity to the point of origin as long as the branch-circuit conductors that are not AFCI protected do not exceed 6 ft in length and the portion of the circuit between the point of origin and the AFCI location is installed in a metal raceway or a metallic-sheathed cable.
Section 210.12(B) requires that AFCI protection be provided for all 15- and 20-ampere 120-volt branch circuits that supply outlets (including receptacle, lighting, and other outlets; see definition of outlet in Article 100) in dwelling unit bedrooms regardless of whether the circuit supplies only outlets in the bedroom(s) or supplies outlets in the bedroom and other areas of the dwelling. Because circuits are often shared between a bedroom and other areas such as closets and hallways, providing AFCI protection on the complete circuit would comply with 210.12. There is no prohibition against using AFCI protection on other circuits or in locations other than bedrooms.
 

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Speedy,
I have long wondered how this applies if a house is protected with fuses instead of breakers? Surely this can't be interpreted to require pannel upgrade just because someone wishes to add a single circuit to a bedroom. (I suppose this is a sign that I should break down and buy an up to date codebook.)

ron,
the bedroom circuits are the most dangerous in this sense, since the AFCI acts to reduce the risk of fire, which is most dangerous when you are asleep, and when it is close to you. Should a fire occur in another room, it is less likely to interfere with your egress, and you have more time for the smoke detectors to wake you up.
 

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Here is one explanation that I experienced for the loose outlet question. I replaced just about every outlet in a customer's house, because they were all loose, the reason in this situation was that they had put those plastic safety outlet covers in almost every outlet when they had a baby. The blades on these safety plugs were a lot thicker than the blades on regular plugs to prevent a child from pulling them out. So after 4 or 5 years with these safety plugs I suppose the outlets remained stretched out (like bending and tying a tree branch, after a while you can pull off the rope and the branch remains bent) and became loose to standard metal plugs on appliances.
 

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Speedy,
I have long wondered how this applies if a house is protected with fuses instead of breakers? Surely this can't be interpreted to require pannel upgrade just because someone wishes to add a single circuit to a bedroom.
Actually it can. If your area has adopted, and enforces AFCIs, you most definitely haveto install them for a new bedroom branch circuit.
Either a sub-panel would be required or a complete service change.


(I suppose this is a sign that I should break down and buy an up to date codebook.)
No offense, but if you are a real electrician, or even someone who simply does electrical work as part of their job, it would be shameful to not have an up to date code book that your area uses.
 

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No offense, but if you are a real electrician, or even someone who simply does electrical work as part of their job, it would be shameful to not have an up to date code book that your area uses.
I'm no electrican. I've just finished grad school, where we did some wiring, mostly just putting cords on things, although we did build some custom magnets and other things. There was supposed to one code book for the students in the insitute to share, but you can imagine how well that worked. You're right I should have bought my own codebook, but they're not cheap on a student's salary. I had an old hand me down, that worked if all I needed was amperage table, and if that didn't work I just asked on the one electrican who was supposed to suppervising everything we did. It really only became an issue every few months, and I was most of the way through school before I could find my way around one anyhow .

Where this really became the biggest issue though was dealing with electrical contractors etc, who I would have thought should have this stuff pretty well. But it seems we've had string of disasters: transformer installed on pad that was too small and only one egress route, switchgear installed in highbay w/ no protection from overhead craine, electrical inspector who needed a week and a half to research stuff before either passing/failing our inspection (depite taking his advice and hiring an electrical saftey consultant for review).
 
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