Archive for Monday, May 23, 2011


Install a permanent night light in your home

May 23, 2011


If you use a night light anywhere in your home, consider replacing it with a combination night light/outlet. For hallways, where an outlet may be dispensable, a built-in night light with a single outlet is ideal. In bathrooms and kitchens, consider replacing an existing outlet with a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) double outlet and night light combination. Both of these products, available at your local hardware store or lighting center, feature energy-efficient LED lights with a 20-year life expectancy. Benefits of installing permanent night light sources such as these include energy savings, convenience and safety. There are no light bulbs to replace, no electrical plug-ins to knock loose and no chance of operator error to contend with.

Step 1: Turn off the power supply to the existing outlet at the service entrance panel by shutting off the circuit breaker or removing the fuse.

Step 2: Test the outlet using a voltage sensor to confirm that the power source has been shut off.

Step 3: Remove the outlet cover plate and unscrew the top and bottom mounting screws that hold the outlet in place.

Step 4: Gently pull the outlet from the wall and detach the wires from the existing outlet. If the wires are not color coded, use tape to mark each wire for identification.

Step 5: Use a wire stripper or sharp knife to expose a half-inch of bare copper at the end of each wire.

Step 6: Follow the new outlet manufacturer’s instructions and attach the wires accordingly. Typically, the white wire goes on the silver screw, the black wire goes on the gold screw, and the green or bare wire goes on the green screw. Hook the wires clockwise around the terminal screws, so as the screw is tightened down it pulls the wire in beneath it.

Step 7: For added safety, wrap electrical tape around the edge of the new outlet to cover the screw and wire connections.

Step 8: Gently press the outlet back into place and attach it to the outlet box with the new or existing screws.

Step 9: Turn the power back on and test the outlet to make sure everything is working properly.

Step 10: Attach the cover plate, put away your tools and look forward to a little shinning light in the otherwise dark of night.

— Linda Cottin can be reached at


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