Replacing a worn or broken outlet is as easy as turning a few screws, but it can be very dangerous if the power to the outlet is not shut off first.
Step 1: Before attempting to replace an electrical outlet, use the breaker or fuse in the service entrance panel box to turn off the power to the outlet. If possible, plug a radio or lamp into the outlet and turn it on before turning off the power. If the radio or lamp goes off, chances are the power is off.
Step 2: Remove the outlet cover plate by unscrewing the face plate screws and set the cover plate and screws aside.
Step 3: Unscrew the top and bottom mounting screws that hold the outlet in place. Gently pull the outlet out of its box. Use a voltage sensor to confirm that the power supply is off by touching the sensor probe to each wire, one at a time. When it is confirmed there are no hot wires attached to the old outlet, unscrew the terminal screws on either side of the outlet and remove the wires. Do not allow the wires to touch each other.
Step 4: Attach the wires to the new outlet in the same manner as they were attached to the old outlet. Typically, this means the white wire should go on the silver screw, the black wire should go on the brass screw and the grounding wire should go on the green screw. Always hook the wires clockwise around the terminal screws so as the screw is tightened, the wire is pulled in beneath it.
Step 5: Wrap a single layer of electrical tape around the edge of the new outlet to cover the screws and wires. Push the outlet back into the box. Be careful not to pinch or crimp any of the wires when re-installing the outlet.
Step 6: Secure the outlet to the electrical box by re-installing the top and bottom mounting screws. Replace the cover plate and turn the power back on. Plug a lamp or radio into the new outlet to confirm it works. Put away the screw driver and congratulate yourself on a job well done.
— Have a question? Email Linda Cottin at firstname.lastname@example.org.