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Defective Outlets and Wiring

 

When you buy a house that was formerly occupied, you never know what you'll find. I've bought and sold my share of homes in my 63 years, and I've run into almost every situation imaginable. However, for a house built in the 1970's the condition of the outlets and switches in this house was atrocious.

After examining a few of the outlets that had been damaged, painted over, or so loose that they wouldn't hold a plug in place, I decided to mechanically replace every outlet and switch in the house. On a separate page, I teach you how to do this yourself and save a lot of money. Lowe's had outlets on sale for 59 cents, so I bought enough to do the whole house and had a few spares left over. The following photos show what I found in almost every outlet box in the house.

By the way, Leviton outlets are rated in the millions of insertions; so how do you wear out an outlet so much that it can't hold a cell phone charger in place? Beats me! It is almost like the builder's electrician used SCRAP outlets that were thrown away by demolition crews.

To add to the problems I found, after a few weeks of living in the house and working on it, the Mains Breaker in the Circuit Breaker Box developed a mechanical problem.

When I pulled the outlet out of the box, the neutral wire pulled out of the "push-in" connector. This outlet had two neutral (white) wires and only one hot (black) wire.
   
Whoever installed this (outside) outlet tried to ground it by wrapping a too-short ground wire under the box mounting screw instead of connecting it to the outlet. Rust eventually caused the outlet to become ungrounded.

Whoever installed this (outside) outlet tried to ground it by wrapping a too‒short ground wire (which didn't reach the outlet's ground screw easily) under the box mounting screw instead of connecting it to the outlet. Rust eventually caused the outlet to become ungrounded. There was no GFI on the circuit either, and this condition could have resulted in someone being electrocuted.

I pulled 2 inches of Romex out of the wall, re‒trimmed the leads and connected all the wires back to the SCREWS on the new outlet.

NEVER use the push‒in wire holes on the back of an outlet to "make it easy". There is only a small spring to make contact with the wire, and the connection will eventually fail. If the outlet ever needs to be replaced, you'll play hell trying to get the wires out, despite what the manufacturers say.

Take the time to do it RIGHT, and save yourself a big headache down‒the‒road.

How does lint and hair get inside an outlet box? Perhaps exhausting an electric clothes dryer into the house had something to do with it ‒ almost all the outlets in the house looked like this.

The dog hair in this outlet box was disgusting. Dust and dog hair in an outlet box is TINDER for a potential electrical fire.
Dust on wires inside an outlet box means that the box was improperly installed. Using the push-in wire connectors on outlets is NOT A GOOD IDEA.
Piles of dog hair and construction debris in the outlet box. Outlet was worn and damaged.
Construction debris should not be left inside an outlet box. More construction debris and more lint mixed with hair in an outlet box.
As soon as I removed the plate, I knew this was going to be disgusting. More hair and lint inside an outlet box. This is a fire hazard.
This 220-Volt outlet (for a pool filter) had a broken (missing) weatherproof cover. Dust inside an outlet box is potential disaster.

SEE HOW I FIXED THIS MESS AND LEARN BASIC ELECTRICAL WIRING TECHNIQUES

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All photography, illustrations and content on this Web site is Copyright 2014 by David Todeschini and Net4TruthUSA ‒ all rights reserved.

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Last modified: 05/29/15

 

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