Your electrical outlets can be a danger to your household if you are not careful. Here are some circumstances that raise the risk level of an electrical outlet.
The Outlet Is Close To a Water Source
Water conducts electricity; not very efficiently, but some current will flow. Thus, water exposure can create a short circuit in an electrical outlet. A short circuit can trigger an electrical fire, shock, and damage. That is why you should not install outlets too close to water sources, such as kitchen sinks, bathtubs, and shower, among others. For example, the National Electrical Code (NEC) requires a spacing of at least three feet between a receptacle and a water point such as a tub.
The Outlet Has a Multi-plug
Using a multi-plug is a good way to plug multiple appliances in the same receptacle. Unfortunately, some people think that the multi-plug also increases the power rating of the outlet, which is not the case. When you plug a multi-plug in a 10A-rated outlet, the maximum current rating of the outlet remains 10A, and all the total current of the appliances on the multi-plug must not exceed that limit. Thus, using a multi-plug increases the risk of electrical overload (though it doesn't guarantee it).
The Outlet is Unprotected
Unprotected outlets are those that don't have covers or protective mechanisms, and anyone can easily insert things into. Such outlets are dangerous if you have young children. The young ones might insert nails or wires and suffer serious injuries. Use outlets with tamper-resistant designs that require equal pressure in both holes to open. Alternatively, you can buy child-proof outlet covers that you use to cover the outlets when not in use.
The Outlet is Physically Damaged
The outlet covering protects the internal components, such as the wires and screws, from damage. The covering also prevents you from making accidental contact with the live wires, which can lead to electrical shock. Thus, an outlet with a cracked cover exposes you to injury and your house to electrical damage.
The Outlet is Loose
Lastly, you should also be wary of an outlet that can't hold electrical plugs firmly. Electrical outlets typically become lose after years of use due to normal wear as well as negligent use. For example, some people yank plugs out of the outlets with force instead of pulling out the plugs smoothly. Loose outlets can overheat due to increased electrical resistance, and the overheating can trigger an electrical fire.
Consult an electrician for help if you suspect that your electrical outlet is dangerous. The electrician will diagnose and deal with the danger even if it involves replacing the outlet.