How To Replace An Electrical Outlet

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If your old outlet has become so loose that a cord barely stays in place, it’s time to change it. It’s not just an annoyance—it’s a hazard.

Working with electricity is very dangerous — be extremely careful and, if you have any doubts, contact a professional.

Step 1: Cut the power
Cut the power to the outlet by flipping the circuit breaker or removing the fuse at the main panel.

If you have a voltage detector, test that the power is off by inserting the tip of it into the outlet’s smaller slot. Or just plug in an electrical fixture that you know is in working condition and test it.

Step 2: Remove outlet cover
When you’re certain the power is off, unscrew and remove the outlet cover.

Step 3: Remove the outlet
Unscrew and remove the outlet itself from the electrical box. Notice how the wires are connected to it, either by two screws on the sides of the outlet, or fastened to the back.

Take a digital picture of the back of the outlet so you’ll have a reference of what wire attaches where.

Step 4: Detach wires
Detach the wires. If they are attached on the side by screws, loosen the screws with the screwdriver. If they’re inserted in holes in the back, place the screwdriver in the slot located next to each hole to release the wire.

Step 5: Get a new outlet
Take your old outlet to the hardware store and purchase a new one just like the old one.

Step 6: Reconnect wires
Install the new outlet by connecting the green or bare copper ground wire first. Bend the tip of the wire into a loop with the wire cutter and curl it around the screw in a clockwise direction. Use the screwdriver to tighten the screw into place.

You’ll need about half an inch of bare wire to wrap around the screw; if you don’t have enough, use the wire cutters to remove excess insulation.

Step 7: Connect wires
Connect the white wire, followed by the rest of the wires.

Step 8: Replace the outlet
Replace the outlet in the electrical box, making sure the green or bare copper grounding wire is not touching the other wires.

Step 9: Replace the cover
Replace the outlet cover.

Step 10: Restore power
Turn the power back on. You can use a voltage detector to check the outlet for power, or test it with an appliance. Congratulate yourself for a job well done.

Did You Know?
Electricity travels at the speed of light — more than 186,000 miles per second!

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