Black Electrical


Your guide to electrical: Consumer & Commercial

How to Replace an Electrical Outlet

Sometimes you get used to living with ugly stuff in your home. Think about that gross electrical outlet in the bathroom, for instance. It’s right there, only because you think that replacing electrical outlets is way too difficult. Well, fear no more. The following steps will tell you how to replace an electrical outlet on your own.

Take a look at that horrible outlet and the way it stands out on the wall, isn’t it gorgeous?

Behold the Horrible & Outdated Outlet

Lucky for you, yours is near the ground. Most outlets in my house were 3 feet off of the ground when I first moved in. I guess previous owners didn’t have knees. I’ve wanted to move this plug from the middle of the room to the corner for ages, but you know how it is…it’s been 18 years now and I haven’t had time to do it.

I truly believe that you shouldn’t do anything around your house that could potentially kill you. For example, installing an electrical panel, roofing work, or running on your newly waxed floors while wearing socks. However, THIS is replacing an electrical outlet. THIS is something you can do without being afraid of dying.

How to Change an Electrical Outlet
How to Change an Electrical Outlet

How to Replace an Electrical Outlet

1. TURN OFF THE POWER to the area where you’re working. If you aren’t sure about which breaker or fuse powers the outlet you’ll work on, just cut the breaker to the whole house. Better safe than sorry.

2. Remove the faceplate to the electrical outlet.

3. By unscrewing the visible screws, remove the electrical outlet from the box.

4. Pull the outlet away from the box.

5. By unscrewing the screws, remove the wires that are slightly wrapped around them, just enough so that you can slip the wires off.

6. Throw that trashy thing out.

7. It’s time now to talk about the horrifying GROUNDING WIRE, which everyone seems to be so afraid of. Here are the two things you must know:

a) The ground wire has to be grounded to the box, and

b) The ground wire needs to be grounded to the outlet

First of all, how can you identify the ground wire? It’ll be the bare copper wire (depending on your home wiring, it could be copper or aluminum) or the green wire, just one of the two.

Now wrap the grounding wire around the grounding screw at the back of the metal box and bring it forward to the receptacle. (In case your grounding wire is broken, you’ll have to make the two independent wires work together as one)

8. See that hole in the back of the box where the wire is coming through? There has to be a connector so the wire doesn’t rub the sharp metal edges.

If your grounding wire is broken, you can use the broken off part to create a loop. The circuit will be complete as long as the two grounding wires touch behind the screw.

9. Now it’s the moment to replace an outlet. Get your new outlet and faceplate ready.

10. Attach your wires to the new outlet.

Tips to Know What Wire Goes Where When Replacing Electrical Outlet

– On one side, your outlet will have brass screws, while the other will have silver screws and a green screw for the ground wire.

– Attach your wires like this:

o Black goes to brass

o White goes to silver

o Ground goes to green

– Can you see there are two silver screws? Don’t freak out, it doesn’t matter which one you pick. Just choose one. Be careful with exposing the copper wire the least as possible. (This isn’t an issue on the grounding wire as it doesn’t conduct any electricity).

– To help clamp the wire down instead of pushing it off, hook your wires so they’re going in the same direction as the screw is when it’s turned to tighten.

11. Push the new outlet back into the box. NOT SO HARD! Do it carefully.

Many experienced electricians wrap outlets with electrical tape before taking them into metal boxes to prevent them from accidentally coming into contact with the metal box. Nevertheless, there are other electricians who think this is totally unnecessary.

12. Screw the outlet again into the box.

13. After having covered it with the faceplate, you’ll be done. You just have to turn on the power in your home again and watch how the whole room lights up.

Replacing Electrical Outlet
Replacing Electrical Outlet

This is it. This is how to change an electrical outlet. Don’t you feel more like an electricity expert by now? Well, I guess went too far with that, but you see that it wasn’t too difficult, right?

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