Replacing Electrical Outlets Is a Snap
By Alyssa Davis
When it comes to home repair, there are some projects that are easy and others that require a bit more skill. Replacing electrical outlets, although relatively easy, should only be done if you feel completely confident and comfortable working with electricity. Electricity is extremely dangerous and can be deadly if you do not follow the proper safety precautions. If you are not comfortable doing it yourself, hire a professional electrician or handyman to replace your outlets for you. However, if you feel confident that you can complete the job, there are some quick and easy steps that you can follow to make the repair less of a hassle.
Before you begin turning off power or unscrewing the electrical plate, take the time to gather everything you need. You will need an insulated flathead screwdriver, wire cutters, a voltage meter, a new electrical outlet, and, possibly, a camera equipped cell phone or digital camera. Once you have everything you need, it is time to begin.
2. Circuit Breakers
The very first step in any type of electrical work is to make sure that the power is off. Shut off the circuit breaker to the outlet that you will be repairing. If you are unsure as to which breakers shut the power off to that switch, shut the power off to the entire house. It will only be off for a half an hour or so, so foods will not spoil if the refrigerator doors stay closed. It is better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to electricity. After the breakers have been shut off, test the power in the outlet by inserting just a bit of the voltage meter wire into the small side of the outlet to make sure that there is no power coming through.
Removing the old outlet is easy. Use the screwdriver to unscrew the electrical plate from the wall. Remove the outlet by unscrewing it from the box at the top and the bottom. Carefully pull it from the wall, being careful not to dislodge the wires. If desired, take a picture of the wires as they are attached to make it easier to remember how to re-attach them to the new outlet. Next, unscrew the wires from the old outlet.
4. New Outlet
Once the old outlet has been detached, it is time to hook up the new one. Start by attaching the ground wire to the outlet. Next, attach the white wire. If there are any other wires, attach them next. Place the outlet back into the wall making sure that the ground wire is not tangled or touching the other wires.
5. Back in Place
Screw the outlet back into the electrical box using the screws at the top and bottom of the outlet. Place the cover over the outlet and screw it in. Finally, turn the circuit breaker back on and test the outlet by plugging in a light or appliance that you know works properly.
When you take the proper precautions, replacing an electrical outlet is not difficult. Always remember to put safety first and take your time. Nothing is more important than your personal safety.