Q. What are
polarized electrical outlets?
different sized slots were developed to allow outlets to be
polarized as a safety enhancement. The larger slot connects
the common wire in the outlet to the common wire in a
device. The smaller slot connects the "hot" wires. By
forcing the smaller blade of the plug to always connect the
hot wires, the outlet is polarized. Devices, such as a table
lamp, are designed to minimize the risk of electric shock by
keeping the hot wire as short as possible by wiring directly
to the switch. The rest of the internal wiring connects to
the neutral wire. While this system does not eliminate the
possibility of electrocution, fire and electrical faults, it
reduces the risk by limiting the path of live current.
does the ground do?
improvement in safety came with the addition of a ground
wire to the outlet. This serves as an alternative return
path for electricity and is referred to as the equipment
ground. Ordinarily current flows from the hot wire and
returns via the common wire to ground. However, if the hot
wire comes in contact with a metal part of a device, the
a washing machine for instance, current could flow through
you to ground. The ground wire in a device connects to the
housing and provides a return path. The current could still
travel through you, but the ground wire probably has lower
resistance and so chooses that path over through you.
a GFCI outlet?
(ground fault circuit interrupter)
outlet is a device that adds a greater level of safety by reducing
the risk of electric shock. Most building codes now require
that a GFCI outlet be used in wet locations such as
and laundry rooms.
power in my bathroom outlet, and all breakers are on. What
can I do?
when a house is wired and has two bathrooms, the master bath
has a GFCI outlet that protects both bathrooms. The kitchen
has one that protects the other plugs close to the sink and
there is typically one in the garage that protects the
outlets there and perhaps the outside plugs as well. Often
times the GFCI outlet will go bad or is faulty, affecting
the other plugs downstream as it were.
What Causes an Outlet to Spark?
when you plug an electrical
appliance into an outlet, you may notice a small blue spark. In most
situations, this is a normal event as the electrons begin to
flow into the appliance's power cord. At other times,
however, a spark from an
electrical outlet could start a fire or severely damage the plug. It is
homeowners to understand why an electrical outlet may spark or short
out without warning.
What is an Electrical Outlet?
electrical outlet is an opening or series of openings
connected to a wired power source meant to power electrical
equipment and components. The electrical outlet is one of
the most commonly used items in a
home or building. Electrical outlet provides power to an
electronic component by using a wire to take power to the
outlet. The plug of the component then transfers power to
the device requiring it. Another wire then takes the
electricity back to its original location. For
simplification, in a home environment, this is the
electrical panel. Due to this round-trip routing, it is
often called an