Handyman vs. Licensed Las Vegas Electrician

While working at a lady’s house here in Las Vegas, she mentioned that the receptacle that powers her dishwasher hasn’t been working for several months.  About a year before, a handyman came in and did “some work” on the same receptacle since it had lost power to the dishwasher.  After resetting all the circuit breakers and tightening all the connections, the dishwasher started to work again.  She paid the handyman and he went on his way.  But six months later it was the same problem angst.  So when I showed up and started troubleshooting, I noticed that the screw that joins the receptacle cover plate to the receptacle was significantly longer than the screw that comes with a cover plate and the wires that were “stabbed”in the back of the receptacle were now loose and the side termination screws were tightened to the point that the plastic was cracking.  As I started to see why power had just stopped, I unplugged the dishwasher from its temporary receptacle that was around the corner and metered it.  When I plugged it back in, the original receptacle that wasn’t worked was now sparking, smoking and burning, but there was nothing plugged into it.  I had never seen anything like this before and now her dishwasher wasn’t working.  I decided to change out the dishwasher/garbage disposal receptacle and then see what happens.  I soon learned that a breaker on her panel sticks in the closed (or on) position even when it has tripped.  I also learned that the screw used to join the receptacle cover plate was so long that it created contact between the hot and neutral wire on the inside of receptacle causing the it to breakdown on the inside and no one knew what was going on and that the side screws were over tightened so that that portion of the receptacle was also compromised.  The picture shows a crack down the middle of the receptacle from the overly long, and forcefully driven in screw.  Everything now works and the homeowner was very happy.  But this illustrates the point that when it comes to trade specific tasks, such as HVAC, plumbing & electrical, call the licensed tradesman first, since you will be calling him anyway.  Even something as simple as using the right screw to join the cover plate to the receptacle is crucial.  As this homeowner saw firsthand, no money or time was saved by going the less expensive route.  It is usually the best route to hire a Las Vegas electrician to care for all electrical issues.  Just because it works does not mean it was done correctly.