We just walked into the house and noticed that one or more of the electrical outlets appeared charred or burnt.
What do we do now?
Too much current
The most obvious reason for a burnt outlet is that there was too much draw of current from the appliance, lamp or other electrical item that was plugged into the outlet. Although your fuse box or circuit breaker panel should have tripped, there are times when there is not enough of a difference in the flow of the current to cause the safety device to trip or in the instance of a fuse, burn the filament within the fuse to stop the flow of current.
Call an electrician for safety sake
There is really no handyman remedy that we can suggest to this situation due to the safety issues involved. Unless you are a licensed electrician or extremely confident with your electrical skills, a call to your local electrical contractor is highly recommended.
Turn off circuit breaker
It is recommended that once you have place a call into a professional, you make sure that the circuit breaker for that outlet is turned off or the fuse is removed for that circuit. This is a good time to strongly suggest that all panel boxes be labeled to allow you easy identification of the proper circuit to turn off.
When to check electric service
If there is more than one outlet that shows an apparent charred or burnt situation, then your electrical service must be checked. It is possible that there was a surge in the electrical service to you home and it charred some of the outlets. This is rare and that immediate call to a professional is again the most recommended solution.
One you have made that call, it is recommended that you do not use the outlet in question, before it is checked and deemed safe to use.
In almost all situations, the call resulting in the fix will be the easiest, safest and most reliable method for fixing any electrical issue.
If you do decide to hire a professional, you might consider spending the few additional dollars for that professional to review all of the outlets and electrical service within the home. They may spot another issue that is a safety hazard and will become obvious in the near future.
REMEMBER, HIRING A PROFESSIONAL IS NORMALLY THE EASIEST, SAFEST AND MOST EFFICIENT METHOD OF SOLVING YOUR PROBLEMS AROUND THE HOME!