Whenever an electrical outlet, also known as a receptacle stops holding a plug as it should, its best that it be replaced immediately. Replacing an electrical outlet is pretty much easy for basically anyone. This is because it uses the same procedure as that of replacing a switch. However, a receptacle is different in that it may contain more wires than the ones occasionally found in a light switch.
Understanding the Electrical Outlet
The first most important aspect to pay attention to are the terminal screws of the new receptacle. For instance, if replacing a duplex electrical outlet, one needs to check for the terminal screws on both sides of the receptacle. Usually, the upper screws are connected to the upper outlet and the lower screws to the lower outlet. Both of these terminal screws are then connected using a metal break-off tab to enable one connects the wire to either of the screws. This makes it possible for one to only use a single wire to feed electric power to both ends of the outlet. However, in case the metal break-off tab is broken, one can as well connect both the upper and lower outlet wires separately so as to be able to control each one of them independently.
There however may be instances where upon a series of electrical outlets are used to wire another outlet. At such times, there tends to be two wires as well as another wire which in this case is the ground wire. To be able to efficiently carry current from one receptacle to another, two wires ought to be connected to the main power outlet.
Key things to take into Account
One may choose to wire an electrical outlet if in need to control both the upper and lower outlets from the switch. If this is what one is in need of, then they should ensure that they remove the metal break-off tab that connects the sets of terminal screws on each side of the outlet. Similarly, one may opt to use a metal bridge instead.
Most importantly is the need to master the wires. The white or neutral wires should always be attached to the silver screws whereas the hot or black/colored wires should be attached to the brass screws. Failure to attach the right wires in their specific places may lead to formation of sparks or fireworks.
Steps to Replacing an Electrical Outlet
- Start by turning off the power supply from the main circuit panel or fuse to the electrical outlet.
- Remove the cover plate by unscrewing the screws.
- To make sure that the circuit is dead, use a voltage tester.
- Unscrew the electrical outlet from the electrical box before pulling it out with the wires still attached on it.
- Remove the wires.
- Check to see whether the old receptacle’s break-off tab is broken. If broken, remove the tabs.
- Attach the wires on the new receptacle’s terminals.
- Push the new electrical outlet back onto the electrical box before screwing it back into place.
- Screw the cover plate.
- Turn back on the power.
Jerry Dobbs is a guest blogger. Replacing an electrical outlet led him to the website of Duffy Electrical Contractors in Tucson, AZ.