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Replace An Electrical Outlet

You must first check your old outlet to see what slot pattern it has. Two slot outlets, found in older homes, are ungrounded. Three slot models (two slots and the U shaped ground) incorporate a grounding slot that connects them to a continuous grounding system in the household wiring. DO NOT replace a 2 slot outlet with a 3 slot outlet unless you know the wiring system is grounded. Three slot types in an ungrounded system don’t provide adequate grounding protection and can mislead future occupants and electricians performing repairs. If you are not sure whether your system is grounded, check with an electrician.

Removing The Old Outlet: Turn off the power at your main power box. Check to see if any power is going to the outlet with a voltage indicator. If the light on the indicator goes on, you have not shut off the correct circuit. Take off the outlet cover with a screwdriver. Again, use the voltage indicator to check for any hot electricity on each wire. Pull the outlet out of the outlet box. Loosen the terminals (screws) that connect the wires to the outlets with a screwdriver and detach the wires. If the wires are connected to holes in the back of the outlet, use a small flathead screwdriver in the slot located next to each hole to release the wire. If this doesn’t work, use wire cutters to snip the wire as close to the outlet as possible.

Installing A New Outlet: Your new outlet will have different colored screws (or terminals) on each side. The black or hot wire should only be connected to the dark or brass terminal on the same side as the smaller slot on the outlet. The white or neutral wire should only be connected to the light or silver terminal on the same side as the larger slot of the outlet. The green or ground wire should only be connected to the green ground terminal at the bottom of the outlet. Always connect the green neutral wires first, followed by the white wires, and finally the black wire.

You will need at least ˝” bare wire from the outlet box to wrap around the terminals in the outlet. If you do not have ˝” of bare wire, use wire strippers to remove the insulation around the wire. Taking the green wire from the outlet box first, bend the tip of the wire into a loop with pliers and curl it around the green terminal in a clockwise position. Use a screwdriver to tighten the terminal into place. Connect the white wire to the silver screw and the black wire to the brass screw. When all the wires have been properly connected, carefully push the outlet back into the outlet box. Make sure the grounding wire is not touching the other wires. Connect the outlet to the outlet box with the screws provided. Turn on the power at your main power box. Use a voltage indicator to check for power. If the light on the indicator goes on, it is working correctly. You may screw in the outlet cover. If the voltage indicator does not go on, turn off the main power and repeat all the steps. If it still does not work, call an electrician.



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