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Why are My Outlets Loose? (Tips and Fixes)

Hey everyone, we’re talking about loose electrical outlets, which have been bugging many of you. You know the feeling – you plug something in, and it just slips out, or maybe it sparks or causes a fire hazard. Today, we will go through the top 5 reasons why your plugs keep falling out and, most importantly, how to fix them.

Loose outlets usually happen because the receptacles have weakened, causing loose or damaged contacts inside. Other reasons could be that the whole outlet is not fixed properly and wobbles, the distance to the outlet is too far for the appliance, or the plug’s prongs are deformed.

I’ll not only show you why this happens but also tell you what you can do about it.

Reasons for Loose Outlets

There are five common reasons for a loose outlet.

There are loose or damaged contacts inside, the appliance is too far away from the outlet, or the plug’s prongs are deformed.

You should solve the problem to ensure secure contact with all the prongs inside the outlet’s slots. Otherwise, a loose outlet could lead to sparks, arcing, and fire.

Reason 1: Loose Contacts

Loose contacts cannot firmly grip a plug’s prongs.

If you notice any loose contacts, they can probably be tightened.

However, you must replace the outlet if they cannot be tightened.

Reason 2: Damaged Contacts

The contact points of an outlet can weaken and get damaged over time, especially if used roughly.

Bad wiring can also damage the contacts. If you notice such damage, you should replace the outlet right away.

If you need to replace an outlet because it cannot be secured or is damaged, turn off the breaker before replacing it. Use a tester to make sure there is no power.

Reason 3: The Outlet is Not Secure

A loose outlet can also cause the receptacles to loosen.

You may have to remove the faceplate and secure the outlet to its box or the box to the wall. If necessary, you may have to repair the part of the wall holding the box if it’s not secure.

You can also use shims to help secure an outlet. Place them over the screws to make up for the gaps. Make sure the outlet fits snugly.

Reason 4: Distance from the Outlet

The reason for a loose outlet might be that the appliance you’re trying to plug in is too far away from the outlet.

If it’s just out of reach, bring the appliance closer. If you can’t do that, use an extension cord if it can handle its load. Otherwise, if it’s a permanent appliance, you should replace its wire with a longer one, or you may have to install a new outlet closer to the appliance.

If you need a longer wire, allow some slack instead of measuring only the distance between the appliance and the outlet. It should not be too long that the wire gets in the wire and can cause tripping, nor too short that it doesn’t easily reach the outlet.

Reason 5: Deformed Prongs of the Plug

A plug with deformed prongs will not fit securely into an outlet, no matter how secure.

If the prongs are bent or twisted, i.e., not straight, they are deformed. If unsure, insert another plug. If that fits securely, the plug of the appliance you’re trying to use is to blame. You will have to change it. If a prong is broken, you’ll know that you need to change the plug. You cannot use it as it is.

Replacing a plug is not expensive. So if it’s deformed, damaged, or broken in any way, replace it.

Video References

Everyday Home Repairs

Fix This House

Thrifty Garage

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About Sam Orlovsky

AvatarCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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