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Electrical Outlet Troubleshooting and Repair

An electrical outlet, also known as a receptacle, is a socket that helps to connect an electrical device like a hairdryer, a table lamp, phone charger, and so on, to a source of electricity. Normally, all outlets are installed on a wall, although in certain situations, they can even be installed in the floor. In a few cases, they are even installed in the ceiling for the purpose of powering electrical devices like neon signs at shop windows or garage door openers. Electrical outlets and their voltages can vary from country to country but there are adapters available in order to convert from one type to another.

Listed below are a few questions answered by electricians on electrical outlet related issues.

The electrical outlet in my kitchen has four wires which are black, white, red, and bare. I’d like to change the outlet to one with a different color but the moment I connect it, the breaker blows. The tab/bridge on the hot side of the plug seems broken while the white side of it is fine. What can I do to fix this?

What you will have to do is to break the tab on the new outlet between the brass screws and place a red wire on one screw and a black wire on the other to fix the problem.

Is there an ideal distance for an electrical outlet to be fixed away from a radiator?

Usually electrical outlets can withstand up to 90 degree Celsius (194 degree Fahrenheit). If the temperature doesn’t exceed this and if the radiator doesn’t touch or lean on the outlet, there is no ideal distance that needs to be kept. The outlet or cord you plug should also not be subjected to damage and there should be no danger of a trip hazard.

There’s an electrical outlet being installed for my overhead microwave in the kitchen and the wire is coming through the back of the cabinet through the wall/drywall. Does the electrical receptacle need to be mounted to the back inside wall of the cabinet?

A wiremold box that is mounted without cutting into the cabinet would be the best way to do this. Also, these boxes are compliant with code so you wouldn’t have a problem.

What is the safest way to replace an electrical outlet?

There are a few steps that you need to follow while replacing an electrical outlet.

The first thing to do is to turn off the circuit at the breaker. Next, you should take the device out from the box and ensure that all the wires are disconnected. Take care to check what the placement of the wires is, along with noting their color and the colors of the screws. Then take the wires and connect them to the new device in exactly the same way they were on the old one. You have to remember though that if they were terminated using the push back connections, you'll have to make sure that the wires are connected to the screws now. Next, tighten all the connections. Finally, turn the breaker back on and test your new device.

The standard electrical outlet in the U.S. is designed with a pair of vertical slits that run parallel to each other and are less than an inch (2.5 cm) apart. There is also a circular opening that is centrally positioned below the vertical slits. The usual voltage in the U.S. for these outlets is 120 volts. However, bigger home appliances, such as air conditioners or dryers need a 240-volt supply instead of the usual 120 volts. These outlets can be installed as easily as a standard 120-volt wall outlet.
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