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What You Need To Know About Electrical Outlets

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On average, most homes contain up to 75 different types of outlets! Shocking isn’t it? We know what you’re thinking, it’s hard enough staying up to code with electrical outlets in general and NOW we have to worry about what type of outlet it is?! Leave the worrying to us! At Service Professor, we have trained technicians for every electrical job! We’re here to share with you electricity basics and the most common types of electrical outlets found in your home. That way when handling any electrical issues you can properly identify what you’re dealing with prior to calling your friends here at Service Professor!

Think about your home for a minute: how many times do you flip a switch or turn on the T.V. on a daily basis? We’re thinking a lot! Electricity is an important and fundamental part of your home. Understanding the basics of how it works, your outlets and their type, and even how to reset a circuit breaker is a vital skill to have as a homeowner. 

How an Electrical Outlet Works
So we all know that electricity is brought into your home by a power plant and power lines. But how does that work with bringing power to an outlet? Is it just a surge of power transferring when you plug something into an electrical outlet? In a way, yes! An outlet has various parts to it, but we’ll keep this simple. You’ve noticed that electrical outlets have faces, right? Two eyes and a mouth that oftentimes makes the outlet have a frightened expression. The “left eye” is considered neutral, this is where the electrical current will make a full circle to and from the breaker. The “right eye” is considered hot. This is where the electrical current is brought from the breaker to the appliance being turned on or plugged in. And the “mouth” is referred to as grounding, an added safety component to electrical outlets to avoid electrical home fires. This is connected to the grounding wire that takes high electrical currents to the ground to be neutralized. 

*Most older homes will have outdated two-pronged outlets versus the updated and legally required 3 pronged outlets. The third grounding component added was put there as a result of two-pronged outlet house electrical fires caused by high electrical currents. The grounding component brings large, unsafe electrical currents to the ground, preventing them from starting a fire in your home. If you live in an older home, we definitely recommend reaching out to us to schedule a Whole Home Electrical Evaluation. Updating these obsolete outlets are important to your family’s safety! 

Electrical Outlet Types
Now that we’ve got the basics of electricity covered, we can discuss the most common types of outlets you may find in your home. 

    • 2-Prong Outlets– We’ve already introduced the nearly obsolete and outdated outlets. If you have these in your home, strongly consider getting them updated and replaced! 2 prong outlets are no longer a safe way to power your home. 
    • 3-Prong Outlets- This type of electrical outlet is now required for new homes. A grounding line and grounding electrical outlet must be installed to ensure your home and families safety. The grounding component allows unstable or high electrical currents to be neutralized in the ground instead of you or your appliance. 
    • GFCI Outlets– Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets you’ll find most commonly near areas of water use such as your bathroom, laundry room, basement, or kitchen. They are distinguishable by the big (red) TEST and (white) RESET buttons located near the bottom of the outlet. This outlet is extremely sensitive and constantly monitoring electrical currents if it detects changes from the appliance plugged in it will automatically disconnect and stop the flow of the electrical current. 
    • Tamper Resistance- These types of outlets became required by the National Electrical Code in 2008. The new design features built-in safety shutters that block foreign objects from being inserted into the electrical outlet. These shutters only open when a 2 bladed or grounded plug is inserted. 

    • Recessed Outlets- These are mostly used as an alternative to a generic three-pronged outlet. Avoid eyesores by installing these “hidden” inset outlets in your home where you have all space or want a piece of furniture to be flush with the wall. For the most part, this is just a cosmetic type of outlet, but it can help with preventing bent cords! 

Interested in learning more about the different ways you can protect your home from electrical fires or update your electrical outlets? Are you struggling with tripping breakers? Have concerns about unsafe, non-GFCI outlets in your home? Reach out to us at Service Professor today! Our team of Grand Rapids electricians has the expertise and skill to meet your every electrical need or question. We’ll fix it in a snap!



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