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How to change an electrical outlet

By Edited Apr 15, 2016 0 0

Easily change your Receptacle

Before you do anything you need to first, shut off the power.  Go to your breaker box and find which breaker your outlet is hooked up too and shut it off. If you are not sure which breaker it is you can always plug something into the outlet and keep hitting different breakers until the item shuts off.

If you don't want to go through that much trouble than the next best thing is to just hit your main breaker and knock the power to your entire house. Once you have done this, it is still necessary to test the outlet before you begin working on it to make sure you disabled the power correctly. You can do this with a voltage tester or by plugging something into the outlet. The best and safest way to make sure is with the voltage tester.

The next step is to remove the face plate.  Unscrew the center screw of the face plate with a flat-head screwdriver. Do not lose the screw as you will need it later, unless you are also planning to replace the face plate with a new one.

At this point I would double-check to make sure the power is off. You can never be too careful when dealing with electricity. Electricity is extremely dangerous and you should not leave anything to chance.

There are two screws that hold the outlet in the wall, one on top and one on the bottom. Remove these screws and save them for you may need them with the new outlet.  Now gently remove the outlet by pulling on the top and bottom "ears" of the outlet. Check the black wires with the voltage tester to make sure they are not live. Again you can never be too careful.

You will see three wires attached to the outlet. The black wire which is attached with a gold or brass colored screw is what is called the live or hot wire. The white wire which is called the neutral wire is generally attached with a silver screw. Last but not least is the Ground wire, this wire is usually green or just a bare wire and is attached to the outlet with a green screw.

Unscrew the screws holding the wires, you only need to loosen the screws enough to  remove the wire. You can now dispose of the outlet because you will no longer need it. Take your new outlet and loosen the screws so the wires can fit.

Before you attach the new outlet be sure that the wires look ok. You may have to take a pair of wire cutters and strip back the insulation some to show a better part of the wire. If so, be sure not to cut it back too far or you won't be able to attach it to the outlet properly.

From here all you have to do is attach the wires to the outlet the same way they were attached before and tighten the screws down. They need to be snug but don't tighten them so much that you mess up the wire or the threads. Also before you put the outlet back in be sure to use a shop vac or something to clean out the box of debris.

Now that the wires are attached you can gently fold the wires back into the box and screw it in. Next reattach the face plate and you are ready to turn the power back on. Once you have the power back on use the voltage tester once more and make sure everything is wired correctly. If so then you are finished.  

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