I had a dishwasher plugged into the wall. The dishwasher plug has always been a little iffy but we have never had a problem with it before. It shorted while the dishwasher was running and I caught it pretty fast but it scorched the wall a little and obviously the plug.

I pulled the plate to make sure there was no internal scorching etc and everything appears to be in order. I realize I will probably have to replace the cover but the wall plug has a ton of melted rubber on it as well. Will I need to replace that or will scraping it be enough? (after turning off the power obviously)

Is there a better option?

  • 19
    If you're turning off the power and replacing the plate anyway, why not replace the receptacle? They're what, $0.50 - $2? Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 4:11
  • 3
    Can you add a picture?
    – dalearn
    Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 12:44
  • 1
    Aside - consider your Insurer's response if they learned you'd repaired an arcing socket.
    – Criggie
    Commented Jun 9, 2020 at 22:01

1 Answer 1


Do not try to clean a scorched receptacle even with the power off; the heat created takes the temper out of the metal and the receptacle would not pass a withdrawal force test, this is important because it measures the contact strength and overheated receptacles need to be replaced not cleaned.

A cheap replacement may be purchased for around 1 dollar, but a quality spec grade receptacle around 4 dollars.

I install hundreds of receptacles and I always purchase back & side spec grade (and even heavy duty industrial for up to 7-8 dollars each).

Why would an electrician spend so much more on parts? They are safer and last longer, yes contractors going in and finish wiring tract houses use the cheap ones in most cases but not all.

Changing a receptacle only takes a few minutes and is a simple skill all homeowners should be able to do:

Take a photo before starting, ask any questions before starting.

Turn the power off at the circuit breaker, 1 or 2 screws removes the cover plate.

2 more screws releases the receptacle, worst case now there are 5 more screws

2 silver screws with white wires, 2 brass screws with black wires and 1 green screw with a bare copper wire.

Swap the receptacle and then put it back in and cover and you are done, turn the breaker on and you have it finished.

Please do it right or get help, it is really not that hard.

  • 21
    ...and do not use "screwless" back connections ("backstabs"), ever. Connect the wires with a method that involves tightening a screw (quality back connections with screw clamping, or side screws) and enjoy not burning your house down (push-in only "backstab" connections are notorious for failing and arcing...)
    – Ecnerwal
    Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 10:59
  • 7
    Another reason not to try to keep scorched mains-powered electrical equipment is that many of the plastics used are inherently flammable but contain fire retardants. Heating the plastics will cause the fire-retardant chemicals to be released, preventing the plastic from igniting, but only for a limited time. Once the chemicals are used up the plastic may burst into flames and burn quite energetically.
    – supercat
    Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 16:10
  • 6
    IMPORTANT: check all wires in the box for power using a non-contact tester BEFORE touching any screws or exposed wire. Yes, this is AFTER you've turned off the breaker. In rare occasions, duplex outlets can be supplied by different circuits, or perhaps a lazy contractor just brought another set of wires through on its way elsewhere. Make sure there is NO power in the box at all.
    – Doktor J
    Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 20:23
  • 2
    @DoktorJ Why do you suggest non-contact tester? the Screwdriver-tester works fine and when used properly (not broken, holding right) it is safe. And it is much easier to get reliable contact one over non-contact. They who cannot use a tester properly shall not do any electrical works...
    – Crowley
    Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 20:54
  • 2
    @DoktorJ You mean, using a screwdriver to short the circuit? :-D I assume he was referring to a screwdriver with a built-in mains tester, which can test for mains voltage through a single contact point.
    – Sneftel
    Commented Jun 8, 2020 at 23:15

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