Category Archives: Electrical Outlets

What is a Polarized Receptacle?

Polarized Receptacles came on to the scene in the 1920s. You may have wondered why the slots are different sizes. The larger slot is to connect to the neutral wire and the smaller slot is to connect to the hot wire. This polarized system was devised to add an element of safety, and is still used today.

Unfortunately, 2 slot polarized receptacles are often not grounded in older homes.

How to Check for a Ground

If the receptacle is contained in a metal box which is then connected to a metal conduit, your receptacle may be grounded. But remember that does not include any protection for a plugged-in device.

If the receptacle does not include both a metal box and metal conduit, you cannot expect the circuit to be grounded.

If your polarized receptacle is already grounded, you should be able to replace the existing older outlet with a more modern 3 slot one. If you have any doubt, you can purchase a receptacle analyzer at your local hardware store. Safety should always be your first concern.

3 Slot Receptacles

Today’s outlets are equipped with an extra round slot to give us the advantage of adding grounding to our outlets. That grounding offers electrical current a safe destination, should a problem arise, such as a short circuit for example.

We know that electrical projects can be a bit overwhelming. We always suggest using a professional electrician, such as Douthit Electrical, to handle your home’s electrical needs.

Give us a call about a home electrical inspection. Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990.

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How to Install USB Outlets

Your family is probably like most of us and has a large amount of today’s electronics at their fingertips. But your home may be plagued by not having enough outlets to keep them all charged and ready. One answer for some is to switch a few of their current outlets to USB combo outlets.

We always suggest using the services of a licensed electrician for any electrical project in your home, but if you are feeling especially “handy” we have put together some advice we hope will help.

Changing a wall outlet is one of the more straight forward home electrical projects, but always be prepared for something to be different than expected. And when working with electricity, always make safety your first concern.


When choosing your new outlets you will need to decide a few things, including what type of USB ports you need. USB-A are the large ports you usually see on laptops with a rectangular shape. USB-C are smaller, shaped more oval and and are more often seen on newer smartphones. Which size does your family need? Both?

You may also want to consider spending a few more dollars to purchase combo outlets that have chips. Your devices are expensive. You will want to make sure they charge at the safest speed and a chip will help detect and regulate that.

Another option to consider to protect those devices is whole house surge protection. Combo outlets may be a welcome convenience to your family, but don’t forget about protecting those devices from unwanted surges. Douthit Electrical is an expert at helping to protect homes from electrical dangers.


Switching one wall outlet for another could be a simple project, but always, as with any project, unplanned things can happen. Make sure that an accidental shock is not one of them! Before starting, make sure to turn off and test that no power is going to the outlet you are working on.

Click here for our blog on how to replace an electrical outlet. The new combo outlet may be slightly larger than the old one. If it does not fit in your current electrical box, you will need to swap that out as well. If that happens, you may want to rethink your project or call Douthit Electrical for professional installation.


USB combo outlets are not meant for rooms where water is used. We hope you already have GFCI outlets installed in those rooms. Call us if you have doubts about what type of outlet should be installed at locations around your home.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need electrical service, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!

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How Many Outlets can be on a 20 Amp Circuit?

The question you probably meant to ask is how many things can be plugged into and used on a 20 Amp Circuit. The typical home has countless outlets for convenience, most of which are not used at any given time.

The National Electrical Code requires that the circuit breakers in our home warn us when more than 80% of the acceptable power usage in any given circuit be used by “tripping” the circuit breaker. You can read more about circuit breakers here.

Using only 80% of our 20 amp circuit gives us 16 amps to safely work with. Those 16 watts give us at most 1920 watts on a typical 120 volt circuit. These numbers are based on safe usage. Who wants to worry about their circuit breaker tripping by exceeding that?

So you are probably still wondering how many things can be run on a single circuit? That is going to depend on the types of things you are plugging in. A typical electrical heater may require 1500 watts when in use, while lights and electronics have very small usage. A safe bet would be to allocate 1.5 amps per item such as these on your circuit.

Common sense should tell you that running appliances and power hungry devices should be delegated to separate circuits. But remember, just because they are plugged into separate outlets, does not mean they are not all sharing the same circuit.

If you need to update your home to more safely handle your power usage, Douthit Electrical can help! Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need electrical service, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!

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How to Replace an Electrical Outlet

Any electrical project in your home should be taken seriously. But replacing an existing outlet is one of the most common projects a homeowner will take on by themselves. Here’s basic instructions on how to replace an 110V electrical outlet with 2 wires and 1 ground.

1. Turn off the power at the main circuit panel.

2. Unscrew the outlet cover and remove it.

3. Use a voltage tester to confirm that the circuit is receiving no electricity.

4. Unscrew the outlet and gently pull it and its wires away from the wall.

5. Locate the terminals and remove both the black and white wires. The black wire (live) is usually connected with a gold or brass screw. The white wire (neutral) is usually connected with a silver screw.

6. Remove the ground wire (typically green or copper).

At this point, you should be able to remove the old outlet and replace it with the new one.

Connect the ground wire, then the black & white wires to the same screws as were attached before. Fit the new outlet into the wall and rescrew into the electrical box. Reattach the outlet cover.

Remember, you want to attach everything exactly as it was before. If you fear a faulty memory, take notes or even a photo of what the wires look like attached.

Once you’ve surveyed your work and believe you are ready to be tested, turn the power back on at the main circuit panel. Hopefully your nice new electrical outlet is working properly, and you can pat yourself on the back.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need help with your electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!

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How to Safely Plug in an Air Conditioner

I don’t know about you, but we’ve been waiting what seems like a very long time for winter to end. You may be beginning to think about preparing for your summer air conditioning options. If a wall unit is in your future, we hope you plan for its location safely.

Most home owners that use wall units have defined spots where they can go. Because of that, don’t overlook the need to make those areas a safe choice for the electrical power an air conditioning unit requires.

Air conditioner units run on more electric power than the average home appliance. That is why they have a fatter (typically shorter) cord. When plugged directly into a home outlet, that cord is expected to be the correct size to do the job.

Extension Cords

Never ever use an extension cord for your air conditioner or any other major appliance that has not been rated for the use of a major appliance. They are not made to withstand that much power and can put your family in jeopardy.

If you are purchasing an extension cord for temporary use, we suggest at least a 12 gauge cord. An air conditioner uses an excess of power when it is first turned on, and we prefer to land on the side of safety for you and your family.

Always remember to keep extension cords away from main walkways that could cause tripping, and make sure to never cover them up with carpet or taped to walls. Extension cords can get hot, and we only recommend using them on a temporary basis.

Permanent Outlet

Douthit Electrical can upgrade your current outlet(s) to be a safe source of power for your air conditioning needs. You may find that your new AC unit is drawing too much power from the circuit, and the breaker keeps tripping. We can help take care of that problem. Give us a call to discuss your options.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need electrical service, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!

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Why aren’t the outlets in my bathroom working?

It’s happened to most of us. We’ve just taken our morning shower … switch on the hair dryer and nothing happens. We turn it off and on and off and on until we finally give up. Now it’s time to find out what is to blame for this inconvenience.

The most obvious next step is to try the hair dryer somewhere else. Find another outlet that you know is currently working and plug in the hair dryer. Does it work now? If it does then you’re on your way to discovering the problem.

Go back to the bathroom and see if that is the only outlet not working in the room. All the outlets in your bathroom should be updated to GFCI. Check the button in the center to see if it needs to be reset. In some cases, outlets in the bathroom and kitchen are updated by installing a GFCI circuit breaker in the main electrical panel. If you are not sure what the importance of GFCI outlets in your bathroom is click here.

The next step is to see if you have a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse. Locate your main electrical panel. Check to see if a circuit breaker needs to be reset or a fuse replaced. If that’s the culprit of your hair dryer misery, reset or replace and check on the outlet. If that has resolved the problem, good job! If this becomes a common occurrence, you will want to find out the reason for it. Douthit Electrical can help!

If that did not restore the power to the outlet, then we suggest giving us a call to do more troubleshooting of the problem.

Douthit Electrical has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. If you need experienced electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!

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My old dryer outlet was only 3 slots. What do I do?

Laundry Room DesignGas dryers require very little electrical power. They use gas as their heating power source and their electrical needs are mainly to turn the drum. They typically use the same 120V amount of power as a small appliance.

Electric dryers are quite different. Electric power is converted to heat and has much more power needs. These require an electric outlet that is specifically for dryers and the extra power they need to run properly.

3 Prong vs. 4 Prong
If your previous dryer was older than 2000, then it may have very well been quite happy with the 3 prong outlet in your home. Since that time, many electrical safety advances have been made. That is reflected in the current electrical code that requires 4 slots in newer home 220V outlets. The extra slot was an added safety measure to add an additional neutral path to the circuit.

What do I do?
Douthit can update your outlet to the new safety standards. Just give us a call for an appointment.

But, if you would like to wait to change to a 4 prong outlet, you may be able to convert the dryer cord yourself.

Changing the Dryer Cord
We always recommend having a licensed electrician help you with your home’s electrical projects, but if you are feeling confident, here’s our suggested steps:

2. There should be a metal plate covering the area on the back of the dryer where the cord attaches. Remove it and make sure to put those small screws where they won’t be lost.
3. You should now see a restraint that keeps the cord stable and helps to relieve the stress and strain of movement. Remove the restraint.
4. Disconnect the existing dryer cord
5. Connect the center wire of the new 3 prong cord to the center silver terminal.
6. You have 2 wires on the new cord that now need be attached. Attach these to the 2 terminals beside the silver terminal.
7. Reattach the restraint collar. This can be frustrating and can take a bit of patience. Slide the tab ends one at a time into the cord wire hole. When you’ve been able to match up the 2 halves and can get the screws to catch, you’re done with the hardest part. Tighten.
8. Replace the safety plate.
YOU MUST GROUND THE DRYER. Return the frame ground strap to the central terminal post (neutral).

All electrical home projects should be done carefully to ensure the safety of your home. Always err on the side of caution when dealing with electricity.

Douthit Electric has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. When you need electrical service or installation, check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!

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New Year Checkup for your Charlotte Electrical System

It’s always a good time to do a basic electrical safety checkup of your Charlotte home. This week let’s take a look at the health of our indoor outlets.

  • Have you noticed any of your switches or outlets not working?
  • Do any of your switches or outlets seem to be discolored?
  • Do any of your switches or outlets get warm when in use?
  • Have you noticed any popping or cracking from any of your switches or outlets when you use them?
  • Do plugs still fit snugly into all outlets?

Take a look around your room. How many outlets do you see? We often don’t realize just how many outlets we have in our homes until one stops working. It only takes 1 faulty outlet to create a disaster. In most cases, a licensed electrician can quickly fix a faulty outlet and recommend any additional safeguards you might need.

Watch for our future posts on tips about the use of extension cords in our homes and the safety of our fuse box. Our simple list of things to look for can help keep your house away from electrical mishaps.

Douthit Electric has been providing Charlotte with quality electrical services since 1990. Check out our money saving coupons and give us a call!

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