Testing an electrical outlet is simple with an outlet tester. This device is economical, typically costs under $20, and every homeowner should have one. I recommend you purchase the outlet tester with the GFCI button so you can also test bathroom, kitchen, garage and exterior outlets for GFCI protection.
To test any outlet, plug the outlet tester into the outlet and note the light pattern. A legend on the outlet tester will show you what the pattern indicates (e.g., whether the outlet is wired properly or not).
You’d be surprised how many incorrectly wired outlets I discover inspecting homes, even brand-new homes! If you discover an electrical issue, you shouldn’t use that outlet until it is repaired.
To test for GFCI protection, plug in the outlet tester, see if the light pattern is correct and then push the top button. If it trips (e.g., if the power goes off), then the outlet is indeed GFCI protected and working properly (you’ll need to find the tripped GFCI breaker or outlet elsewhere in the home and reset it to restore power after tripping).
I encourage you to go out, purchase an outlet tester, test your outlets and repair any noted defective.
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