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   Articles | How-Tos | Ask the Expert   

Replacing an Outlet

If the face of your outlet has been damaged, dirty or it is just plain ugly, you need to replace it. The main objective is not to get shocked. Make sure you cut the electricity to the box. You shouldn't replace a two-slot receptacle with a three slot unless a ground is available.

Step 1:

First a note about safety: Make SURE that the outlet has no power coming into it. You should purchase a circuit tester and test the outlet before working on it.

Step 2:

Remove the screw holding the cover (Fig. 1). Gently pull the cover off the outlet (Fig. 2).

Step 3:

Remove the two screws holding the outlet in place (Fig. 3). There is one at the top and one at the bottom.

Step 4:

Holding the outlet by the metal "ears" at the top and bottom, gently pull the outlet forward out of the box (Fig. 4). Note that there may be two wires or four wires in the box. If there are two wires, your outlet is either at the end of the circuit or the only outlet on the circuit. If there are four wires then your outlet is in the middle of the circuit. Either way is normal.

Step 5:

Disconnect the outlet from the wires. There are two ways to make the connections on an outlet. The first is to use the terminal screws on the side (Fig. 5). The other is to use the holes on the back of the outlet (Fig. 6). If the connections are made on the side then simply loosen the screws and remove the wires. If the connections are made on the back, there is a small slot above the hole the wire goes in. Push a small straight-edge screwdriver into that slot and pull the wire out. The ground wire goes directly to the terminal on the outlet and also must be removed.

Step 6:

To connect the new outlet, simply reverse the above directions. The black wires go to the brass screws and the white wires go to the silver screws. If you are using the holes in the back, the black wires go to the same side as the brass screws and white on the same side as silver. Do not forget to get to reconnect the ground wire as well.


Fig. 1


Fig. 2


Fig. 3


Fig. 4


Fig. 5


Fig. 6



 


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