Home Electrical How To Replace An Electrical Outlet

How To Replace An Electrical Outlet

How To Replace An Electrical Outlet

It would be nice if we could magically replace an electrical outlet with just the click of a button. Unfortunately, that is not realistic. Whether you have kids around the house or not, it is essential to make sure your outlets are safe. When I was growing up, I would notice loose outlets around the house. It was the most frustrating thing trying to plug something in only for it to escape out so quickly. Never would I have known the reason behind why that was happening; I simply thought the outlet had become broken, and a new one had to be replaced elsewhere on the wall.

Unfortunately, if you wait too long and continue to try to use the lousy outlet, it becomes dangerous. This happens because the pins that hold in what you are plugging in can loosen up. This will then create arcing and heat and this can be a huge fire hazard! Thinking about anything that deals with electricity scares me. When I was little, I always saw cartoons about the characters getting electrocuted. It just set the tone for how scary and powerful electricity can be. Never did I think I would be brave enough to replace an electrical outlet on my own!

It is smart to know what you’re preparing to get yourself into when considering doing any DIY projects at home. If it deals with electricity, make sure you are careful. Knowing how to replace an electrical outlet will come in handy. It is essential to make sure all your outlets around the house are safe for proper use. Some people would prefer to handle things themselves. Others would first pay the high price and have someone else get their hands dirty and manage it. If you look below, there is a quick and easy step-by-step guide to turn yourself into a handyman. This step-by-step will save you some bucks on fixing an old outlet!

Average Cost To Replace An Electrical Outlet

Being able to be your handyman around the house makes things so much easier and even cuts costs! Electricians typically charge $150 for the service fees, not including the price of the outlets, which are $5-$14. Everyone will rather be cost-effective if they have the chance! So, if you believe you have the potential to replace an electrical outlet, go for it! The overall project will cost around $61 if you do not have all the tools already. If you have the tools and just need to purchase the new outlet, they are around $10 per unit. Luckily, these items are on Amazon. It looks like all the work you have to do is sit on your couch and order away!

If you need a visual aid of how this is done, we provide a visual step-by-step video. Click HERE to locate it.

Tools & Materials

Wall Outlet
Phillips Screwdriver
Flat Head Screwdriver
Wire Cutters
Wire Strippers
Utility knife
Optional: GFCI Outlet Voltage Tester

Time Required:

When you have to replace an electrical outlet, it should not be something planned to do in a rush. It will averagely take about 20-30 minutes, but for first-timers, it may take a bit longer, and that is okay! Considering it does deal with electricity, it would be safe to plan to take your time and go slow.

Step 1: Lets Begin.

If you are not planning to change the style of the outlet, start by ordering the same outlet from Amazon. You can use the same cover plate unless it is cracked or damaged. Also, make sure you have all the tools needed to get this job done.

Step 2:

After you have all the supplies, the first step is to identify which outlet needs to be replaced. You will then need to locate your electrical box, wherever your breakers are or if you have a fuse box. Your fuse box is usually located away from main living areas, such as the basement, garage, or laundry room. Once found, cut the power to the circuit.

Step 3: Test Your True Power!

Take your voltage tester, which should have a light on it, and plug it into the outlet. This will help make sure you have turned off the right switch on your breaker panel. Some labels are incorrect, so this will help double-check. You can find an excellent, affordable voltage tester HERE. If you do not have a voltage tester, don’t panic! An alternative would be plugging in a lamp to see if the light stays on or shuts off.

Once you’re sure the power is off, you will utilize your flat head screwdriver to unscrew off the outlet cover. This step is where the utility knife could come in handy. The cover plate could’ve been painted over so your utility knife will score around the edges of the cover plate. This will avoid peeling the paint away from the wall.

Voltage Testers at the Ready

Step 4:

Once you have removed the cover plate, you want to utilize your Philips screwdriver. You will use it to remove the top and bottom screws that are holding the outlet to the box. Again, you may have paint around the edges that are causing the outlet edges to stick to the wall. This would be an excellent time to bring out your utility knife to score that so it doesn’t peel the paint off.

Step 5: Did Someone Say “Strippers”?

Once the outlet is off, pull the wires out where they can reach to disconnect them from the old outlet. If the wires are long enough, you can go ahead and strip some of the insulation. Here you will utilize your wire strippers to do so. To do this you must first identify the gauge of the copper wire to be stripped. Match the wire gauge with the appropriate hole on the wire stripper. Open the handles and “seat” the wire into one side of the hole. Slowly press the handles together until they can’t go anymore, this will cut the insulation around the wire. If the insulation does not fully cut, you may need to gently rotate the wire within the hole. Pull the wire strippers toward the end of the wire that was cut to remove the insulation.

This will help expose some of the new wire. Now, if the wires are short, I would recommend making a pigtail. This will help extend the wires and make it a lot easier to work around. Once you have exposed new wire, clip off the wires as close to the outlet as you can.

Step 6:

Here you will connect the existing wire to the brand new outlet. You can find cheap outlets HERE! On the back of the outlet, you will notice some different labels. One side is labeled hot while the other side is labeled white. You should also see a ground screw, terminal screws, and terminal holes on the outlet. Take the existing wires and connect them by either looping them around the screws or poking them in the end.

The white wire connects to where it is labeled white. The black wire connects to where it is labeled hot. Then the bare copper wire goes to the ground screw. It makes it easier to loop the wire around the screws. Here you will utilize your pliers to grip the wire at the top. Once you have it gripped, form a hook to put over the screws. Make sure you place the curve around the screw in a clockwise direction.

Replace an Electrical Outlet
This image shows how the wires should be hooked around the screws of the new outlet.

Step 7: Use The Force!

Now you are ready to push the outlet back into the wall. You want to take the wires and push them back into the box, kind of like an accordion style. Take your Philips screwdriver to tighten the top and bottom screws back to hold the outlet in place. If you need to adjust the outlet to fit the hole, you may move it side to side.

Step 8:

Now it is time to install the cover plate back on. Take your flathead screwdriver and screw on the top and bottom screw.

Step 9: Tidy Up!

Lastly, you will go back to your breaker box to reconnect the power and make sure everything is working correctly. Then connect your voltage tester or any alternative to make sure the power is back on. If it is, then you have successfully replaced an electrical outlet!

There you go, no more loose outlets. Now you can brag about how you learned to be a handyman by replacing an electrical outlet. Happy day!

Frequently Asked Questions: How To Replace An Electrical Outlet

Should I wear gloves when changing an outlet?

No, you do not need gloves, but they are recommended.

Is it smarter to hire an electrician?

For something as minimal as replacing an outlet, it is okay to change it yourself. Be sure you follow the step-by-step guide and be careful!


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