Fixing Loose Plugs That Fall Out of Outlets

Posted On: August 15, 2017

There’s never a good time for a plug to fall out of an electrical outlet. Whether it’s a cell phone charging overnight or an appliance you’re using to make dinner, you want a plug to stay snug in place. You’ll want to replace the loose outlet, but thankfully this is just a moderate DIY project or a quick house call from the electrician.

Why Do Plugs Fall Out of Outlets?

When plugs won’t stay put in an outlet, the problem could be the prongs or the receptacle. Be sure to try multiple devices to make sure you have a loose outlet.

Damaged contact points are the main cause of loose outlets. The contacts simply wear out over time, but heat and sparks from bad wiring can also cause damage. The bottom line is that you need to fully replace a loose outlet and also look for signs of other electrical safety problems such as burnt wires.

If the outlet tightly holds other devices and you have one loose plug, you can try to straighten out bent prongs and then try again. If it’s a lamp, you can get a cheap rewiring kit at the hardware store or ask an electrician to rewire it. Small items like a cell phone charger should probably just be replaced.

Fixing a Loose Electrical Outlet

For old wall outlets that have simply worn out, a straightforward replacement will do. The steps of replacing an outlet are simple enough that many homeowners are comfortable with it as a DIY project. The whole thing should take less than an hour.

Get your safety gloves, insulated screwdriver, wire strippers, and a replacement outlet, and you’re ready to go.

  • Switch off the circuit to the broken outlet
  • Test with a multimeter to ensure power is off at the outlet
  • Unscrew and remove the receptacle from its housing box
  • Loosen the terminal screws and detach the wires
  • Stop and call an electrician if you see damaged wiring or signs of melting, burning, or scorching
  • Check the outlet’s wire stripper gage to see how much wire to expose (just enough to loop around the terminal screw; you don’t want to strip too much wire)
  • Wiring: typically the wiring goes black wire to brass screw, white wire to silver screw, and copper wire to green screw
  • Reattach the receptacle to the box and replace the cover

As you can see, the toughest part is tightly wiring the correct wires to the correct screws. It’s a doable DIY task, but it’s also a fast and affordable job to hand over to a licensed electrician.

Electrical Outlet Repair in VA, MD, and DC

Here in the Front Range, we like to keep things loose. Nobody wants a loose outlet, though! Call us or contact us online at Jaffe Electric, serving Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. for outlet replacement with safe wiring and a snug fit.

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