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Hey, you're in the home improvement zone--YOUR HANDYMAN ZONE!

Electrical Category: Receptacles


Receptacle is bad or otherwise damaged and in need of replacement.

Tools / Materials (See Below for Applicability):

  • Appropriate receptacle replacement (the same slot pattern as that of the existing receptacle)

  • Voltage meter

  • Screwdriver

  • Pliers



Your receptacle/outlet no longer works, and is in need of a replacement. 

Caution: When dealing with any device that requires electrical power, make sure you take precautions before you work on it, including disconnecting the power; in this light, before disconnecting any receptacle, make sure you turn off the main power, specifically the power to the circuit of the receptacle.  (Again, do not work on the receptacle without first turning off the electrical power to it.)  Be sure to use a voltage meter to confirm that the power to the receptacle has been turned off.

Replacing a receptacle with a new one of the same type can be done in a few steps, and here's how:

  1. With the main power turned off, use a screwdriver to unscrew the screw of the receptacle outlet faceplate and then remove the faceplate, itself.

  1. Next, use the screwdriver to unscrew the two mounting screws that hold the receptacle, itself, in place in the outlet box, and then pull out the receptacle just enough to remove the electrical wires attached to it.

  2. Now, remove the electrical wires that are attached to the existing receptacle in your hands.  There are two ways that such wires are usually attached to a receptacle and, consequently, two ways to remove the wires, one of which will be applicable to your situation: 1) the wires are tucked into the the back slots of the receptacle, requiring you to use your fingers to push the push-in fittings in the imprinted direction shown on the back of the receptacle to release and pull on the wires to come out of such slots of the receptacle; or 2) the wires are neatly and tightly looped around their respective terminal screws of the receptacle, requiring you to use a screwdriver to loosen the terminal screws by turning each screw counterclockwise and then undo the loop of each wire around each loosened screw terminal in order to detach the wire. Remember which wire went wear on the receptacle so that you can attach each wire to the same location on the receptacle replacement.  (White wire attaches to the silver terminal; black wire attaches to the brass terminals; and the green or bare wire attaches to the green terminal.)

  1. Now, as briefly indicated above, with the old receptacle discarded, you'll need to attach the receptacle replacement with the wires exactly as the wires were attached to the old receptacle.  If the old receptacle had its wires attached using the back-slot method, you may want to now use the screw-terminal method to secure the wires to the receptacle replacement, whish is shown below.

First, in aiding your memory of where on the old receptacle the wires were attached in order to now attach such wires to the receptacle replacement, as noted before, you'll need to follow these constant and universal rules:  The white wire always attaches to the silver terminal; the black wire always attaches to the brass terminals; and the green or bare wire always attaches to the green terminal.

Following the above constant and universal rules, connect each wire to the proper screw terminal of the receptacle replacement, using a pair of pliers to wrap each wire clockwise around the proper screw terminal, and, after this wire looping, tightening each terminal screw (looped around with a wire already) clockwise with a screwdriver (but do not over-tighten). Do this, of course, for each wire in following the above constant and universal rules.

Make sure that all wire connections to the receptacle replacement are tight and secure, then tuck the over-extending wires (that are attached to this receptacle) back into the outlet box, carefully folding them into the box, in order to position the receptacle replacement into the outlet box so that it can be secured with the two mounting screws, using a screwdriver to properly screw in such screws.

  1. Reinstall the faceplate, screwing in the one screw to secure it against the receptacle.

  2. Restore the electrical power.

  3. Use a voltage meter to test the receptacle replacement that you just installed.

That's what it takes to replace a receptacle with a new one of the same type.

Ed the Handyman


Your Handyman Zone Team


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