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   Articles | How-Tos | Ask the Expert   

Replacing a Receptacle
Animation Enhanced

 

 

Introduction

There are many reasons to replace a receptacle. For example, your current receptacle may not match the décor in your room or the color of your walls. Maybe it is old and unreliable. Either way, it is a relatively quick, inexpensive and simple project.

Electrical basics are easy to understand, but working on electrical projects can be hazardous. You should always take the proper precautions - turn off the circuit you are working on and use tools with insulated handles.

 

 

• Beginner - 30 to 45 minutes
• Intermediate - 20 to 30 minutes
• Advanced - 15 to 20 minutes

Make sure you turn off the circuit you will be working on. Locate the breaker or fuse and properly disable.

Make sure that the amp rating of your new receptacle is consistent with the amp rating of the wiring and the breaker or fuse.

Make sure you connect the wiring to the correct terminals on your new receptacle. The black wires (hot) go to the gold terminals. The white wires (neutral) go to the silver terminals. Green or bare wires go to the grounding terminal.

 

Use insulated tools as an extra safety measure.

 

 

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The demonstration requires Macromedia Flash 4 player. If you don't already have it, click here to get it.

 

1. 

The first and most important step is to turn off the circuit that you will be working on. Find the right breaker in the breaker box and flip it to the "Off" position. (Figure 1) If you have a fuse box, find the right fuse and remove it completely from the panel.

2. 

Using a voltage tester, verify that the power has been turned off. If the tester glows, try turning off a different breaker or removing a different fuse. (Figure 2)

3. 

Remove the old receptacle plate. (Figure 3)

4. 

Remove the old receptacle from the workbox. (Figure 4)

5. 

Disconnect the wiring from the old receptacle. (Figure 5)

6. 

If you have 2 wires in the box (plus a ground wire), then the receptacle is probably at the end of a series of receptacles. If you have 4 wires (plus 2 ground wires) then the receptacle is in the middle of a series of receptacles.

7. 

Attach the one or two black (hot) wires to the gold screws on your new receptacle. If you only have 1 black wire, be sure to tighten down the unused screw. Loop the wire so that it wraps around the screw in a clock-wise direction. (Figure 6) This will keep the wire from slipping off as you tighten the screw. (Figure 7)

8. 

Attach the one or two white (neutral) wires to the silver screws on the other side of the receptacle. If you only have one white wire, be sure to tighten down the unused screw on the receptacle. Again, loop the wire so that it wraps around the screw in a clock-wise direction. This will keep the wire from slipping off as you tighten the screw.

9. 

If you are installing a grounded (3-prong) receptacle, attach the 1 or 2 ground wires to the grounding screw on the receptacle or the grounding screw on the workbox if the workbox is metal.

10. 

Wrap electrical tape around the receptacle so that it covers all of the screw heads on both sides. (Figure 8)

11. 

Bend the wires in a zigzag pattern so that they easily fold into the workbox. Push the receptacle into place. Adjust the receptacle so that it is perpendicular to the floor. Tighten the two screws that hold it in position. (Figure 9)

12. 

Install the new receptacle plate over the receptacle. (Figure 10)

 

13. 

Switch the breaker back on (or re-install the fuse). Test the new receptacle using the voltage tester to make sure the installation was successful. (Figure 11) If you installed a receptacle in the middle of a series, you should also test receptacles further down the line to confirm that you maintained the integrity of the series.

 

 

Watch the Animation

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Shopping List

Materials Needed

 

• 

Receptacle

 

• 

Receptacle plate

 

• 

Receptacle tape

 

Tools Needed

 

• 

Screw driver

 

• 

Needle nose pliers

 

• 

Voltage tester

 

• 

Utility knife

 

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