Everyone has electrical outlets in their home or office space, and all outlets will at some point need to be replaced. Replacing an electrical outlet and faceplate is one of the quickest and easiest electrical tasks that even the most unexperienced homeowner can take on. Here are some simple steps you can take to replace your outlets when they stop working properly.
1. Shut off the power. This may seem like an obvious step, but it’s the single most important thing when it comes to dealing with electricity.
2. Double check that the power is off. Yes – your safety is too important!
3. Unscrew the faceplate.
4. Test the power.
Once you’ve unscrewed and removed the faceplate, use a voltage tester like this one to be sure the circuit is dead. Follow the instructions on the voltage tester to know how to read the results, but you should get a reading of zero.
5. Unscrew and pull out the outlet, with the wires still attached. Be sure to note the wiring configuration, paying close attention to where the white and black wires are attached to on the old outlet as you’ll need this knowledge for Step 8. (Typically, the colors are as follows: black = live wire, white = neutral wire, green/bare = ground wire.) Write it down to remember if necessary, and as a means of caution, always assume all wires might be live.
6. Remove the wires from the old outlet using a screwdriver. Loosen the screws (the “terminals”) on either side of the old outlet, and using needle-nose pliers, unhook the wires from the old outlet. (The wires “wrap around” the screws/terminals on either side of the outlet.)
7. Remove the break-off tab on the new outlet. This is the tab on either side of the outlet that connects the two terminals where the wires will connect. Use needle nose pliers to gently break it off by moving it back and forth.
8. Attach the wires to the terminals on the new outlet. Make the wires’ ends into “hooks” and wrap them around the terminals – the white one where the white one had been on the old outlet, and the black one where the black one had been (see Step 5).
9. Attach the ground wire, if there is one. This should be attached to the green screw on the new outlet in the same manner as the white and black wires.
10. Push the new outlet into the electrical box. Screw it into place, and then screw the faceplate back on. Finally, turn the power back on and enjoy your new and improved outlet!
If you ever have questions regarding DIY electrical projects at home, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Magic Valley Electric. We’re happy to help!