How Often Should Electrical Outlets Be Replaced?

Patricia Oelze
by Patricia Oelze

Modern homeowners rely on the convenience of electrical outlets to power household appliances. Unfortunately, electrical outlets go bad over time just like every other part of the home. So, how often should electrical outlets be replaced?

Electrical outlets should be replaced every 20 years on average, but they can last up to 25 years. It is ideal to replace electrical outlets every 15 years or so if they aren’t performing well. Power installation, overloads, and short circuits can cause a GFCI outlet to go bad in as little as 4 years.

It is important to replace electrical outlets so that your appliances work. Replacing electrical outlets can also reduce the risk of surges and even electrical fires. Follow along as we explore how often electrical outlets should be replaced.

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How Often Should Electrical Outlets Be Replaced?

Electrical outlets should be replaced every 15-20 years when they cannot meet the electrical demand. Some outlets can last up to 25 years old, or they can go bad in under 4 years. You can check an electrical outlet with a multimeter to see if you need to replace it.

Physical damage and wiring problems are a sign that you should replace your electrical outlets no matter how old they are. Scorch marks, smoke, and even cracks can point to a dangerous electrical situation. Wiring problems can occur at any point in an outlet’s lifespan, and it’s important to call a professional when you notice something is wrong.

When to Replace Electrical Outlets

Everything from smoke and scorch marks to overheating can indicate that you need to replace your electrical outlets. These signs can indicate that you are at risk of a serious shock or electrical fire. Let’s take a look at the signs that you should replace electrical outlets.


Overheating is a telltale sign that your electrical outlet is bad, and it can be dangerous. This typically indicates that there are loose or damaged wires within the wall connected to the outlet. You can generally tell that something is wrong if you touch the outlet and it is hot.

Shut off power to the circuit if you notice your electrical outlet overheating. Call a professional or replace the electrical outlet yourself if it overheats. Otherwise, there is an increased risk of an electrical fire.


Smoke can emit from your electrical outlet if there is a short circuit or accumulation of debris. This is a sign that you need to replace your electrical outlets, and it is dangerous. Debris can lodge within an electrical outlet over time and eventually burn.

A smoking electrical outlet is generally an emergency and you will need to shut off power to the circuit and call a professional. Call emergency services if you hear your electrical outlet sizzle and pop which can indicate an impending fire.


Replace electrical outlets that are outdated for the best performance and to comply with building codes. Old two-pronged outlets are not safe because they cannot adequately respond to an overload. This puts you and your home at an increased risk for an electrical fire.

Scorch Marks

Scorch marks can indicate that something bad happened with the wiring or that the outlet overheated. You may find scorch marks on the wall around an outlet after overheating occurred. However, that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen again and you’ll need to replace your electrical outlets.

Scorch marks often appear when moisture within the wall causes the electrical outlet to spark. You will need to replace the electrical outlets and address the moisture problem so that it doesn’t happen again.


Cracks in your electrical outlets are not just a cosmetic problem, they can indicate a larger issue. Wiring problems between the neutral and ground connections can cause rapid temperature and pressure changes. This can cause the outlet cover to crack and it can cause discoloration in many cases as well.

Electrical outlet cracks can also occur due to physical trauma from banging into them. This is a less serious problem, but it can expose the wires within the electrical out. Replace your electrical outlets if you notice cracks from wiring problems or physical damage. This will reduce your risk of fire or electrical shock.

When You Get New Appliances

When you get new appliances like a microwave, washing machine, dryer, hot tub, portable air conditioner, or computer, you may need to upgrade your electrical outlets as well. The wiring system may also be an issue. Here are some things to look out for:

AppliancePossible Problems
Hot TubA hot tub needs its own outlet because it uses so much power.
ComputerBe sure you have enough power wherever you are planning to plug in your computer. You don’t want to blow a fuse when someone tries to vacuum or blow-dry their hair.
Washer and DryerThese appliances use a lot of power and typically need a four-wire circuit.
Portable Air ConditionerThose window units use a lot of power as well. If your window unit or portable A/C is always tripping the breaker, chances are good that you need to replace the outlet.
MicrowaveAlthough most homes have enough power for a microwave in each outlet, if they are on the same circuit as something else, it could be a problem.

Should I Hire An Electrician To Fix My Outlet?

Hiring an electrician to fix your outlet will cost about $100 to $150. This cost also covers the price for replacement so if you wish to replace them instead of repair them, you can let them know so you’re not paying more money in labor fees.

If you’re not comfortable with working with electrical components then perhaps hiring a professional is in your best interest. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Related Questions

Do electrical outlets wear out?

Eventually, your electrical outlets will wear out due to the friction of plugging and unplugging appliances and devices. However, changes with electrical codes can also warrant an outlet replacement as well.

Can one bad outlet affect others?

Yes, one bad outlet can affect others. However, if that’s the only receptacle that’s on the circuit then it shouldn’t affect any of your other circuits out outlets.

When should you replace electrical outlets?

When your outlets become damaged or begin to malfunction then you will want to replace them. The older outlets will wear out over time and can put you in harm’s way. However, upgrading your outlets will prevent danger and make your electricity more efficient.

Do You Need to Hire an Electrician?

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Wrapping It Up

Many homeowners do not typically think of changing or even testing their electric outlets unless there is a problem. However, it is a good idea to check your outlets once every five to seven years just to be on the safe side. It is better to take the time and few dollars to change your outlets rather than having to find another home because yours burned down.

Patricia Oelze
Patricia Oelze

I am a DIYer who loves writing about anything home-related. When I am not writing, you can find me studying for my PhD in Psychology, photographing nature, and swimming at the lake with my grandkids.

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