General Question

jca's avatar

Why would an electrical outlet be very tight even after about 13 years?

Asked by jca (35976points) June 27th, 2014

I had the electrical outlets changed when I moved into my current house about 13 years ago.

The one in the bathroom I use every day. I plug the hair dryer into it and then unplug it. This is at least 5 days per week. It’s still like a wrestling match to push it in each time I do it.

The rest of the outlets in the house are not this way. Plugs go in and out of them easily.

Why would this be?

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26 Answers

Seaofclouds's avatar

My guess would be that it’s related to the humidity of the bathroom from your taking a shower. Hopefully someone that knows for sure can give you a definite answer.

XOIIO's avatar

Maybe it’s a virgin?

Those plugs are made to be a bit tougher, and they are mains isolated, at least they should be, do they have a green light or breaker on them?

jca's avatar

@XOIIO: Yes it has a breaker.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

It just heavy duty and has good spring steel for the contacts.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

They’re cheap enough that you can just replace it if it’s too annoying. If you are not comfortable doing simple electrical work you could also just remove the cover plate and screw in something like this.

dxs's avatar

You could try putting in an adapter. The one in the bathroom is probably a GFCI outlet. I’ve noticed that those ones are much harder to plug into than regular outlets.

LuckyGuy's avatar

It is a really good, solid outlet with an internal GFI. Nice. it is built to last 100 years!
I like @dxs‘s suggestion of putting an adapter in place. That is really easy to do. If you buy one of those 6 Outlet adapters for a few dollars. You take off the existing plat and screw this one into the hole. Done. And you won’t need to unplug all your stuff.

CWMcCall's avatar

15 years is a pretty long time for a GFCI outlet. You should test it periodically to make sure it works properly.

jca's avatar

@CWMcCall: According to @LuckyGuy, they’re made to last 100 years.

CWMcCall's avatar

@jca I have never had one go past 20 most have failed in 10 years. I need to shop where @LuckyGuy does.

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LuckyGuy's avatar

@CWMcCall Mine are indestructible. 15 – 20 years ago was one of the proponents of buying American Made and avoiding the cheap chinese products. I’m glad I did.
My house was built in 1957. I’ll bet ⅔ of the outlets are made of Bakelite! The contacts are serious hunks of metal. I did replace a few because I either wanted better grounding or upped the supply current.
I push the GFI test button every couple of years (usually accidentally) to make sure it still works. It always does.

gailcalled's avatar

Have you had the same issues when you plug tha hairdryer specifically into another outlet, not in a bathroom?

jca's avatar

@gailcalled: No. I also have used various hairdryers and other electrical stuff like curling irons on occasion, over the time I have lived here. The plug is tight.

gailcalled's avatar

I will check mine sometime soon. I rarely use my hand dryer but I am curious.

RocketGuy's avatar

We had a similar problem on our 6 year old outlet in the bathroom. Apparently, our hair dryer plug (with GFCI) was overheating and was getting so hot it was melting the plastic of our outlet. We dumped the hair dryer and bought a new outlet.

rojo's avatar

Some folks have suggested you change it out.

If you do, be sure to kill power to the outlet at the breaker box. Yes, if you know what you are doing you can change it without turning the power off but you can also shock the crap out of yourself if you are as clumsy as I am.

BTW I am in the “you just have a good GFCI outlet and should file this under This link.

wildpotato's avatar

Thanks for this thread, guys! I just wrestled my portable clothes washer’s plug out of the devil outlet with channel locks (and nearly rebounded off the opposite wall upon pulling it free) not twenty minutes ago and thought about asking this very question. Gonna go get an adapter tomorrow.

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hearkat's avatar

[Mod Says] We’re in General. Joke responses are not allowed in this section.

ibstubro's avatar

I’m with @rojo.^^^

Paradox25's avatar

Was the outlet always like this? Usually the outlet prongs do the opposite after time, because the electrodes are basically elastic springs, and use the same concept that retaining or snap rings do using stored energy to spring an object back to a default position.

Cycles are what causes any type of spring or object to lose its elasticity. Obviously with time there will usually be more cycles and wear of usage. Some prongs on outlets simple have electrodes with more ‘spring’ in them due to the way they were manufactured, so some outlets may be tighter than normal when compared to others.

The only thing I can think of that could cause an outlet to feel tighter is either the width of prongs on the plug are thicker, or maybe the electrodes inside the outlet have become corroded due to heat or humidity. There is a plus to this, in the sense that tighter outlets are much safer than lose ones since they draw less amps and create less heat.

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