Replacing an Electrical Outlet

Replacing an old worn or broken outlet is as easy as turning a few screws, but it can be very dangerous if you do not shut the power to the outlet off first.

Step 1: Using the breaker or fuse in your service entrance panel box, turn off the power to the outlet in question. I like to plug a radio or lamp into the outlet before turning off the power. If the radio or lamp goes off, chances are the power is off.

Step 2: Remove the outlet cover plate. Unscrew the top and bottom mounting screws holding the outlet in place and gently pull the outlet out of its box. Use a voltage sensor to confirm that the power supply is off by carefully touching the probe to one wire at a time. Once you are absolutely positive there are no hot wires attached to the old outlet, unscrew the terminal screws on either side of the outlet and remove the wires.

Step 3: Attach the wires to the new outlet in the same manner as they were attached to the old outlet. Typically this means the white wire should go on the silver screw, the black wire should go on the brass screw and the grounding wire should go on the green screw. Always hook the wires counterclockwise around the terminal screws, so as you tighten the screw back down it pulls the wire in beneath it. For extra protection, wrap electrical tape around the edge of your new outlet before carefully pushing the outlet back into the box. Take care not to pinch or crimp any of the wires.

Step 4: Tighten the mounting screws, replace the cover plate and turn the power back on. Plug a lamp or radio into the new outlet to confirm it works. Put away your screw driver and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

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