How to Replace an Electrical Outlet. Seriously, YOU can do this. (2022)

SKIP TO HOW-TO

Sometimes you become immune to the ugly stuff in your house. Like old, gross electrical outlets. Fear not. There's nothing scary or hard about it. You CAN replace an electrical outlet. This tutorial walks you, a homeowner, through how to change an outlet in a real life situation.

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Jump right to the Quick View Tutorial.

Isn't she a beaut? The elegant lines, the contrasting colour that makes her stand out and demand attention in the middle of the baseboard, the paint artfully slopped all over it.

Behold THE HAGGARD, HORRIBLE OUTDATED, OUTLET.

At least it's near the ground. When I first moved into my house the majority of the outlets were 3 feet off of the ground, waist level on the walls for some reason. I suspect the previous owners had no knees.

I've wanted to move this plug closer to the corner of the room as opposed to being in the middle of it for ages but ... well I just haven't had time in the past 18 years. You know how it is.

I finally gave up on the bigger job of moving it and resolved to at least change out the receptacle to something less bossy.

I am a firm believer that you shouldn't do anything around your house that has the potential to kill you. Things like roofing work, installing an electrical panel or running on newly waxed floors while wearing socks.

But this? Replacing an electric outlet. That? THAT you can do without fear of death.

How to Replace an Electrical Outlet.

1. TURN THE POWER OFF to the area you're working on. Better yet. Just cut the breaker to the whole house if you aren't sure about which breaker or fuse powers the outlet you're working on.

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2. Remove the face plate to the electrical outlet.

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3. Remove the electrical outlet from the box by unscrewing the visible screws.

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(Video) BEWARE Of These 3 Common Wiring Mistakes On Outlets & Switches

4. Pull the outlet away from the box.

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Seems I got paint splattered on more than the receptacle. Heh. I'll deal with that later.

Don't even ASK me when this outlet was originally installed but there were some issues. For some reason the ground wire was broken. It either happened as I pulled the outlet out or happened when the outlet was originally pushed in. Either way it needs to be fixed. I'll get to that.

See? This is what happens in a real life situation as opposed to a sterile instructional video.

5. Remove the wires from the old outlet by unscrewing the screws they're wrapped around slightly. Just enough so that you can slip the wires off.

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6. Throw that sucker out.

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7. Now is the time to talk about the scary GROUNDING WIRE, which everyone seems confused by. Here are the two things you need to know.

a) The ground wire needs to be grounded to the box, AND

b) The ground wire needs to be grounded to the outlet.

First, how do you recognize the ground wire? It'll either be the green wire, or a bare copper wire. One of the two.

Before installing your new outlet you would wrap the ground wire around the grounding screw at the back of the metal box and then bring it forward to the receptacle.

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Since my grounding wire is broken I've had to do something a bit different. I'll have to make the two independent wires work together as one.

8. I've created a loop in my stubby little grounding wire with pliers. Luckily it's just long enough to wrap around the grounding screw.

(Video) How to Replace an Electrical Outlet – Replace Burnt Out Electrical Outlet and Old Damaged Socket

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See that hole in the back of the box that the wire is coming through? There should really be a Romex connector there so the wire isn't rubbing the sharp metal edges. I didn't have one and wanted to continue with the post, so continued on without it for the time being.

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9. Then I created the same loop on the longer, broken off part of the grounding wire.

** if my copper wire had been a tiny bit longer the better thing to do would be to use a 2 port Wago like this to attach the wires.**

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10. I looped the shorter grounding wire around the grounding screw and then I looped the longer grounding wire around the screw so everything was touching. As long as the two grounding wires were touching behind the screw, I knew I'd have a completed circuit.

REMEMBER this was an anomaly because my grounding wire was broken off very short.

Most people will have a longer wire that will easily loop around the grounding screw in the box with enough left over to attach to the new outlet.

11. Get your new outlet and face plate ready.

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I like the snap on face plates that don't have a visible screw to hold it on.

12. Attach your wires to the new outlet.

TIPS FOR WHAT WIRE GOES WHERE

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- Your outlet will have one side with brass screws. The other side will have silver screws and a green screw for the ground wire.

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Attach your wires like this:

(Video) How to Free a Trapped Electrical Plug

BLACK GOES TO BRASS

WHITE GOES TO SILVER

GROUND GOES TO GREEN

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See how there are two silver screws? It doesn't matter which one you use. So don't fret over it. Just pick one. Try to do a little better than I did with the exposed copper wire though. The least amount of it should be exposed as possible. More should be under the screw.(This doesn't matter on the grounding wire as it doesn't conduct any electricity)

Hook your wires so they are going in the same direction as the screw is when turned to tighten. This will help clamp the wire down as opposed to pushing it off.

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See how there are two brass screws? Again, it doesn't matter which one you use. Just pick one.

Also notice I did a better job of having less of the bare copper wire exposed.

13. Carefully push the new outlet back into the box.

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This shot here nearly BLEW the minds of some electricians who read this post when I first published it. Why? Because I haven't wrapped the outlet in electrical tape. Some electricians (this is kind of a polarizing issue) wrap any outlets that are going into metal boxes with electrical tape.

This covers the metal screws and therefore prevents them from ever accidentally coming into contact with the metal box. However, there are other electricians who are just as adamant about not using electrical tape.

14. Rescrew the outlet into the box.

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15. Cover with the face plate and you're done. Just turn on the power again and watch the room light up.

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(Video) How to replace an electrical outlet

And just like that you know how to install an electrical outlet.

Here's a quick rundown without pictures so you can quickly check it for when YOU replace your hideous electrical outlet.

How to Replace an Electrical Outlet.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Active Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Difficulty: Easy(ish)

Estimated Cost: $5

Step by step instructions on how to replace an electrical outlet.

Materials

  • new electrical outlet

Tools

  • wire strippers or scissors
  • Screwdriver

Instructions

  1. Turn power to the outlet OFF.
  2. Remove the face plate.
  3. Unscrew and pull out the old outlet.
  4. Remove wires from the old outlet.
  5. Attach new outlet. White wire to silver, black wire to brass, Ground wire to grounding screw at back of box and then to green screw on outlet.
  6. Gently push the outlet back into the box.
  7. Screw the new outlet in place.
  8. Attach new face plate.
  9. Turn power back on and bask in the glow.

Now that you're an electrical outlet expert, you might as well learn how rewire a lamp.

There's only one question left to answer. No. I am not likely to wash the paint off of my floors in the near future. Not in the next 18 years anyway.

→Like to Sweat, Swear and do Stuff? GET MY POSTS emailed to you 3 times a week←

(Video) How to Replace an Electrical Outlet

FAQs

What are the steps to replacing an electrical outlet? ›

How to replace an electrical outlet - YouTube

Can I replace an outlet on my own? ›

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.

How do I replace my old outlet with a new one? ›

How To Replace An Old Electrical Outlet- Switched Wall Plug ...

Do you need to turn off power to replace outlet? ›

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 do I remove an old outlet? ›

How to Disconnect Wires from an Outlet - Unplugging from Back

Do you need an electrician to change a wall outlet? ›

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.

Do you have to be an electrician to change a plug socket? ›

Whilst you don't need to be certified in order to change the accessories or fittings, you will need to call a qualified electrician if you want to install or replace sockets and lighting.

How long does it take an electrician to replace an outlet? ›

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.

How hard is it to change an 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.

How do you tell if outlet is 15 or 20 amps? ›

How to check if you have 15amp or 20amp circuit in home - YouTube

Is a receptacle and an outlet the same thing? ›

A receptacle is always an outlet but an outlet is not only a receptacle. Ceiling fans, luminaires and other hard wired connections are all connected to outlets. An outlet is defined as “A point on the wiring system at which current is taken to supply utilization equipment”.

Can you still get shocked if the breaker is off? ›

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.

Can you cut a live wire without getting shocked? ›

Wrap the open ends of the cut live wire with electrical tape to ensure you do not accidentally electrocute yourself.

Is there a difference between GFI and GFCI? ›

GFCI vs GFI. Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) and ground fault interrupters (GFI) are the exact same device under slightly different names. Though GFCI is more commonly used than GFI, the terms are interchangeable.

How difficult is it to replace an 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.

Are outlets worth replacing? ›

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.

Is it safe to change your own light switch? ›

No, it's extremely dangerous to work on any electrical lighting, wiring, sockets or appliances without first isolating the circuit you're working on. If you're in any doubt about electrical safety, call a professional electrician.

Videos

1. Plug Won't Stay In Outlet
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2. What REALLY HAPPENS WHEN YOU SPILL WATER in an OUTLET?
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3. What Happens if You Stick a Fork in an Outlet?
(TKOR)
4. How To Add An Outlet To A Finished Wall
(Everyday Home Repairs)
5. How To Replace An Electrical Outlet Box On Drywall | DIY J-Box Install For Beginners!
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6. 6 MISTAKES DIYers Make When Wiring Outlets
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