Your electrical outlets are the part of your home's electrical system that you have the most experience with since they power basically every appliance, light, and electrical gadget that you own. However, electrical outlets are just like every other system in your house, and age and wear (or a combination of the two) can cause their performance to suffer, or even make them a safety hazard. Understanding some of the warning signs associated with electrical outlets that are no longer up to bar can help you determine when you should talk to an electrician about replacing your outlets with new ones.
1. Physical Damage
Obviously, the first sign that you need to replace your outlets is if there are any signs of physical damage to them. Cracks in the case, the outlet sitting crooked, or even missing screws or exposed wires are all the clearest indication that you are going to get that you need to replace the outlet in question.
2. Discoloration and Buzzing
In a somewhat similar train of thought to the above point, you may notice physical damage that takes the form of dark discoloration, which are burn marks, accompanied by a buzzing sound coming from the outlet. This can be the case even if the outlet itself is otherwise structurally sound. This points to physical damage to the wiring immediately behind the outlet, which is causing sparking and minor electrical fires in the outlet. If possible, you should turn the power to this outlet off immediately to reduce the risk of an electrical fire starting.
3. Two Prongs
While not a sign of stress or damage, you should seriously consider replacing your electrical outlets if you still have outlets that only have receptacles for two-pronged plugs. These plugs are not grounded, which makes them more likely to short circuit your appliances with a sudden power surge. Beyond the danger of damaging your appliances, outlets that only have two prongs can also make it impossible for you to plug in certain items in your home, which is a major inconvenience.
4. Constantly Tripping Circuit Breakers
Another sign that you need to have the wiring in your electrical outlets redone is if you notice that in a certain section of your home (or even throughout your home) constantly trips the circuit breaker, which will then need to be reset. While this can be caused by overloading individual outlets (don't overload power bars or plug multiple major appliances into a single outlet), if every outlet only has two plugs in it, you likely have a wiring problem that is unable to handle the electrical load of normal operation.