So, this is one of those not so pretty posts, but I promise it is Oh So Handy! Especially if you live in an old house (20 yrs. or more). Our home was built in 1978 and most of our outlets are almond colored and many are so worn that they won’t hold a plug anymore. I used to get annoyed EVERY TIME I vacuumed downstairs and turned the corner only to have the vacuum plug slip from the outlet. Not only is this frustrating, but it is also a fire hazard. Old outlets should be replaced for safety reasons (but, hey, I’m okay if you just want to change them to a pretty white outlet.). Changing Out an Old Outlet is easy!
Changing Out an Old (UGLY) Outlet
I distinctly remember my father showing me how to wire an outlet when I was about eight years old. I didn’t remember exactly what he taught me, but I do remember the feeling that – yes, I can do this myself! Being the father of three girls, Dad taught us all the things he would have taught a son. This is a picture of my Dad, my sisters and me teaching him all we knew about bows, barrettes and bobby pins.
I know several of you would never think of taking apart your outlet. You might say electricity scares you. Well, that is a good thing! A healthy fear of electricity will make you more cautious, so don’t lose that fear. It is a good thing to double and triple check your safety when working with electricity. Now, are you ready to update your outlets? Changing Out an Old Outlet is a relatively easy task to do. And, I promise I will show you step-by-step instructions.
I highly recommend performing outlet replacements during daylight hours (or have a lamp that you can plug into an extension cord from another room.) Also, don’t let your little ones watch you, we don’t want them to stick a screwdriver in the outlet when you aren’t looking. Therefore, it is best to handle this fix during nap times.
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- Needle-nosed pliers with rubber or plastic handles*
- Flat head screwdriver*
- Phillips head screwdriver*
- Wire Strippers*
- Wire cutter*
- Voltage tester
- Night light
- 15 amp/ 125 volt or 20 amp/ 120 volt duplex outlet
- outlet cover
* It is safest to work with tools that have rubber or plastic handles that won’t conduct electricity.
- vacuum to clean out the receptacle box (there will be dirt and dust in there and this may be the only opportunity you will have to clean it!)
- cushion to sit on
- power drill with screwdriver bits to speed up the process
Required Safety Instruction:
Turn off the power to the outlet you are working on. I highly recommend putting a night light or light in the outlet and turn it on. Then shut off the circuit at your circuit breaker and check to see that the light has gone out.
Also note that just because two outlets are in the same room, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are on the same circuit. Plus, it is possible for the top and bottom of one outlet to be on separate circuits. Always check both the top and bottom of an outlet before you work on it.
Okay, let’s begin. Take a deep breath and realize that if an 8 yr. old can do it, so can you!
2. Then take out your voltage tester. Insert a probe into each of the top two holes. If the tester lights up, you need to back up and turn off the power to the outlet! If it doesn’t light up, then check the bottom outlet as well. Still no light? Perfect, the power is off to your outlet.
3. If you haven’t done so already, remove the face plate from your outlet by unscrewing the middle screw.
4. Unscrew the two mounting screws as shown below.
5. Gently pull the outlet out of the receptacle box. Inspect the outlet and see if you have the same amp replacement outlet. (Usually there are marking denoting 15A 125V or 20A 120V on the silver tabs, on the back or near the screw hole in the middle of the outlet.)
7. If the wires are wrapped around screws (lucky you), unscrew your wires and skip to step 10. If your wires are poked into holes in the back of the outlet, you may choose to try to release them by poking a flat head screwdriver into the slot next to the wire, or you will need to cut the wires as close to the outlet as possible.
8. Now strip about 1/4 inch of the insulation from the end of your wire.Then gently use your wire strippers to clamp down on the wire being sure it is scoring the insulation. If you need to, rotate your wire strippers 90 degrees and cut through the insulation again. then while the strippers are still around the wire, pull gently towards the end of the wire to remove the cut insulation.
9. Next take your needle nosed pliers and grasp the end of your wire and twist the end to make a shepherds hook shape. Do this for all your remaining wires.
10. Looking at the back of your new outlet, you will see that one side has silver screws and/or markings on the back that says white wire. The other side of the outlet should have gold screws and/or markings indicating hot wires (the black wires). And one screw towards the bottom that is green, this screw is for your bare or ground wire.
12. Further, using your needle nosed pliers, pinch your wires tightly around the screws attempting to close the loop.
13. After that tighten each screw being sure that the wire stays tightly wrapped around the screw.
14. If all your wires have been screwed tightly onto the outlet you can gently push your outlet back into the receptacle box. Try to rock the outlet in by alternately pushing on the top and then the bottom. If your outlet doesn’t go in, pull it out and rearrange the wires so they fold neatly behind the outlet and try again.
15. Screw in the mounting screws.
16. Finally, replace the faceplate.
Now you can turn the power back on and use a nightlight or lamp to make sure your outlet works!
Hey, you are done! Congratulations, you did it. Reach up and pat yourself on the back because I’m proud of you! Now that you know Changing Out an Old Outlet is easy as can be, I have a next level swap for you! You can use the same tutorial to install a USB Charging outlet!
Let me know how you did. Changing Out an Old Outlet was easy, wasn’t it?!
- Step 1: Check for ground. ...
- Step 2: Remove the old receptacle. ...
- Step 3: Connect the new receptacle. ...
- Step 4: Fasten the ground screw. ...
- Step 5: Ground the receptacle. ...
- Step 6: Turn on the power.
If you're comfortable & are experienced doing so, you can, but make sure to cut the power to that circuit. Flipping the circuit breaker is the fastest way to accomplish that. Then you can unscrew the face plate and electrical outlet.
Changing an outlet is not difficult, but it's imperative that you follow certain steps to remain safe. Shut off the power to the circuit—you can do this by locating the circuit breaker in the circuit box.
It's also possible to replace your two prong receptacles with three prong ones and add a GFCI circuit breaker at the service panel. Doing this will likewise protect you from electrocution. If you do this, you will have to label outlets with “GFCI Protected, No Equipment Ground.”
Upgrade Two-Prong Outlets to GFCI
GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets are designed to protect against electrical shock. And this is the only type of three-prong outlet you can replace two-prong outlets with without breaking NEC guidelines.
Here's the short answer: Yes, you can install an outlet yourself at home. The longer answer involves some knowledge of your home, electrical work in general, and the tools and hardware you have available.
You can install a 15-amp receptacle on a 20-amp circuit, but you should never install a 20-amp outlet on a 15-amp circuit. Turn off Power to the Outlet. Never rely on a switch to cut power. Trip the breaker to the outlet you are replacing to avoid being shocked.
How to check if you have 15amp or 20amp circuit in home - YouTube
How to Replace Electrical Outlets - YouTube
If you place the neutral probe on the screw on the front of the faceplate or into the third-prong on a three-prong outlet, a properly grounded outlet will still light up the tester. If the grounding test does not produce a light in the tester, the outlet is not properly grounded.
However, most newer appliances require an outlet that has three prongs for it to be plugged in. This has led many homeowners to incorrectly install a three prong outlet without properly attaching a ground wire. This can lead to many problems including risk of shock and appliances suffering from power surges.
Can You Sell a House With Two-Prong Outlets? According to the National Electric Code, you can sell a house with existing two-prong outlets as long as they're working correctly. Even if you choose to replace two-prong outlets, they do not have to be rewired and upgraded.
Are Two Prong Outlets Legal? According to the National Electric Code, two-prong outlets are allowed in homes as long as they are properly working. If you choose to replace your two-prong outlet, you do not have to upgrade to a newer model.
Does Replacing Ungrounded Outlets with GFCI Outlets Make Them Grounded and Safe? Just because you replace an underground outlet with a GFIC outlet doesn't mean it's grounded. However, you can replace ungrounded outlets with GFCI outlets, and it does make the outlet safer than if you didn't have one installed.
You can fix ungrounded outlets by rewiring the electrical circuit or installing GFCI protection at the outlet or circuit breaker. Rewiring is the only option that will ground the outlet safely.
GFCI offers protection from electrocution by tripping power off in case of ground faults detected across the hot and neutral outlet slots. As mentioned above, GFCI is very important for protection against ground faults such as imbalances in the current. A ground fault occurs when the electrical path changes.
Expect to pay around $125 to $175 to replace or install a standard outlet. The national average can run anywhere from $100 to $500 per outlet depending on the complexity of the job.
If your electrical outlets are old, warped, damaged, or malfunctioning, it may be time to replace them. Old outlets wear out over time, diminishing their effectiveness or even putting you in danger. Upgraded outlets prevent that danger and make your home's electricity more effective at the same time.
Most GFCI outlets will last for about 15 to 25 years, but in certain circumstances, they can fail after 5 years. Here a few common signs that it's time to replace your electrical outlets.
The short answer is Yes! There are many factors that come into play that can cause you to still get shocked when performing electrical work even though you have shut off the breaker to the area that you are working on. The most common issue is when the breaker is incorrectly labeled.
It's acceptable to leave wire in the walls. The only thing you need to do is leave the ends exposed in boxes and wire nut and tape the to legs together. That will indicate to an electrician what's going on, and if someone does try to tie into them in the future it will just pop the breaker.
According to National Electrical Code, only a 15-amp or 20-amp electrical receptacle can be installed to a 20-amp circuit. A 15-amp receptacle may also be installed on a 15-amp circuit. However, a 20-amp GFCI outlet may not be installed to a 15-amp circuit.
For instance, it is crucial that the amperage of an outlet doesn't exceed the amperage of the circuit it uses. As a result, both 15 amp and 20 amp electrical sockets can be installed to a 20 amp circuit, yet only 15 amp receptacles should be used for 15 amp circuits.
In most home installations, several 15-amp receptacles connect to a 20-amp circuit breaker. This allows multiple devices to connect to a single 20-amp circuit as long as the total circuit load does not exceed 20 amps. If the load exceeds 20 amps for a long duration, the circuit breaker will open the circuit.
How long does it take to install an electrical outlet? For a seasoned professional, it can take as little as thirty minutes. With larger projects that require opening walls, drywall repairs or running wire, however, it can take up to two hours or more per outlet.
Find Where the Outlet Is Connected
The second is to turn off the breaker controlling the circuit so you can disconnect wires safely. If the outlet you want to remove is at the end of a circuit, it's safer to disconnect the wires from the device feeding it than it is to leave live, unused wires in the wall.