In one of our previous blog posts, we mentioned how untended switch and outlet cover plates can cause a microbial infestation in the home. The solution was specialized antibacterial switch plates with silver ions that arrest the development of microbes.
In this post, we will discuss the process of cleaning light switches and electrical outlets. Regardless of solving the microbial problem, the discoloration and dust accumulation that occurs on the cover plates and within the electrical receptacle is also problematic.
● Aesthetic Issues: The discoloration can be unattractive. Residents will be embarrassed by the contrast between their clean walls and off-color cover plates, especially when they entertain guests.
● Hazardous Issues: The dust can cause dust traps, which hold lint, hair, and other detritus. This material could act as kindling to a live plug, causing fire and even small explosions in the outlet.
So, the solution seems to be one where we need to wipe down the switch and outlet cover plates. We also need to remove the detritus on the electrical receptacle and inside the concealed electrical box.
Here, we detail the process of cleaning electrical switches that reduces the risk of fire and electrocution.
1. Switch off the MCB: Naturally, most people recognize the dangers of using a soaked cloth or a spray solution on a live circuit. To solve this, switch off the miniature circuit breaker of the room your outlet is in. This removes the fatal risk involved in the process.
2. Remove the Plates: Use the appropriate screwdriver to remove the switch plates as well as the outlet cover plates. This will expose the concealed electrical box and receptacle for cleaning. But you might want to still check if the circuit is dead. You can further confirm its inactivity by using a non-contact electrical voltage tester.
3. Prepare a Cleaning Solution: There is a bevy of liquid cleaning solutions one can prepare at home. Before you prepare one, look up OEM recommendations for the electrical outlet, electrical receptacle, and concealed electrical box, to find out which compounds are damaging to the plate material (usually polycarbonate plastic). You could use a home vinegar solution, window cleaner, or detergent mixed in water.
4. Soak & Use a Cloth: Depending on the type of plate, you will have to choose your method of cleaning. The cover plates and switch plates can directly soak in a tub of solution. After soaking, rub it with a cloth and dry for half an hour.
5. Vacuum or Brush: For the receptacle and concealed electrical box in the wall, you should avoid using water for fear of rust in the metallic receptacle contacts. Gently vacuum the open outlet for detritus. If you do not have a vacuum cleaner, you can use a brush to remove hair, lint, and dust.
6. Screw Plates Back On: Take around half an hour to dry the components. Once dried, you can screw them back in and turn on the circuit again. Now, your outlet will match the cleanliness of your walls!
What are the Other Modes of Maintenance?
i. Receptacle Tension Tester: Often, you might find your receptacle contacts loose. A plug that attaches to the outlet cannot be fixed in place because of this, and you need to adjust the plug until it does—a tedious task. Receptacles should be replaced if this happens. Because a loose plug can cause a fire. However, you can prevent this from happening altogether by using a special device called a receptacle tension tester. Available on the electrical manufacturer and eCommerce websites, you can buy these to test the looseness of a receptacle contact at regular intervals.
ii. Replacing Parts: Charred receptacles and cracked plates are taboo. As soon as you see any major gaps between the cover plate and the electrical outlet’s interior, you need to replace it to ensure safety in the household. You could look into purchasing better quality material like modular switches and outlet plates. In the case of a faulty receptacle, know that newer, high-quality receptacles have internal parts made of more durable materials that are rated for many more plug insertions than the low-cost contractor-grade receptacles most likely were initially installed.
Remember that every component in your house undergoes some form of degradation. Everything in your house tends to entropy. But as long as you regularly maintain these products, you can ensure that your electrical amenities work smoothly.
For more information on how to lengthen your electrical switches’ lives and find switch outlets with longer shelf lives and higher ratings, contact a well-established electrical switches manufacturer like Precision Electricals.