Replacing most wall electrical outlets is a fairly simple task, but can be dangerous if you are not careful. Make sure you follow all the safety steps mentioned in our helpful do-it-yourself video. The most important step is to make sure that you turn off the power before attempting to remove the outlet. If you are unsure of what you are doing, or if the problem appears to be something other than a faulty outlet, call a qualified electrician to deal with it.
Tools & Materials Needed
- New electric outlet
- New outlet plate (if original is damaged or does not match)
- Flat blade screwdriver
- Philips screwdriver
- Voltage detector
- Wire stripper
- Needle nose pliers
- Wire cutters
Steps To Remove Carpet
- Go to the electric panel and locate the circuit breaker for the outlet you wish to replace. Turn off the circuit breaker.
- Use the voltage detector at the outlet to verify that the power has been shut off. Prior to this test, verify that the voltage detector is working by testing it on a live outlet. This is a very important step.
- Unscrew and remove the cover plate.
- Remove the screws holding the outlet to the junction box in the wall.
- Pull the outlet gently away from the junction box. There may only be 4 to 6 inches of wiring, so do not pull too hard.
- Note the order in which wires are attached to the outlet and the orientation of the outlet. They must be replaced on the new outlet in the same order. Wires are sometimes attached to outlets through holes in the back. Others are attached with screws on the side. The best method for attaching wires is to use the screws on the side. If the wires are attached through holes in the rear, you may have to use a special tool to release them, wiggle the wires until they pull out, or clip them as close as you can to the outlet using wire cutters.
- If the wires are attached with screws on the side, use a screwdriver to remove the wires. Once again, keep track of how the wires are attached.
- Attach the wires to the new outlet using the same order as on the old outlet. Use the screws on the side rather than the holes in the back. If you had to cut the wires, strip the insulation as shown in the video and use the needle-nose pliers to bend the wire into a curve. The curve always flows in a clockwise direction, which is the same direction the screws are tightened. Make sure the screws are tight.
- Gently push the outlet back into the junction box. The wiring should be pushed behind the outlet. The ground wires should be in the back of the junction box. Do not let ground wires touch the screws on the side of the outlet. If the wires are long, they can be folded slightly into an accordion pattern or a spiral.
- Secure the outlet to the junction box.
- Replace the cover plate. Do not over-tighten the cover plate screw. It can easily crack the plate.
- Turn the circuit breaker back on at the electrical panel.
- Test the outlet with a lamp.