Doing It Safely: How to Replace an Electric Outlet at Home

A malfunctioning or outdated outlet are potentially dangerous if they are not replaced promptly and properly. They are among the common causes of electrical fires and electric shocks at home.

That said, it is necessary to inspect your wall outlets regularly and learn the signs that indicate they have gone bad so you can contact an electrician immediately for a replacement. A licensed electrician has the proper training to fix outlets safely and correctly, and ensure that there are no problems that may arise in the long run.

Signs Your Outlet Needs a Replacement

Like other things in your house, electrical outlets are subject to wear and tear and can go bad even for no apparent reasons. Below are some of the signs that indicate you may have to replace your electrical outlet:

  • If the outlet no longer holds a plug snugly.
  • If the plate surrounding your electrical outlet is significantly damaged or cracked.
  • If the outlet gives off inconsistent power.
  • Flickering lights.
  • An electrical outlet that feels warm to touch or gives off an unpleasant burnt smell.
  • You have an ungrounded outlet marked by two-pronged outlet slots. To enhance the protection of your family, you might want to consider upgrading into grounded outlets.

How to Replace an Electrical Outlet

Replacing electrical outlets is not rocket science. If you feel comfortable with your skills in working with electricity, you can easily do it, instead of hiring an electrician to do it for you.

On the contrary, you should know that electricity is dangerous and could lead to life-threatening injuries once you neglect following electrical safety precautions. To avoid the risk of electrical hazards, it is always advised that you contact a qualified electrician to do the job for you. Still, if you think you can do it yourself, here are quick and simple tips you can follow to replace your outlets successfully.

  1. Safety first

Make sure the power in the area you will be working on is shut off. Use a voltage tester to test if there is still power that goes through the outlet.

  • Dismantling the old outlet

Remove the faceplate and unscrew the old receptacle from the wall. Notice where the white and the black wires are attached to the old outlet. If you want, you can take a picture of the wiring configuration which can be your reference for when you have to reattach the wire to the new outlet later on. Next, disconnect the wires from the old outlet.

  • Installing the new outlet      

Attach the wires to the terminals of the new outlet. The white wires should go to the silver screws, and the black wires should go to the gold or brass screws. If the wiring has a green ground wire, attach it to the green terminal on the outlet or the box.

  • Finishing it off

Push the new outlet carefully back into the electrical box. Screw the new outlet in place and put the faceplate cover back. Turn the power back on and test if the newly installed outlet works.

Important Things to Keep In Mind When Replacing an Electrical Outlet

  • Different places and countries have various types of electrical outlets. Different types of outlets vary significantly in voltage requirements and frequencies.
  • Make sure you buy the correct outlet and see to it that it is installed securely.
  • Prior to attempting to replace an outlet, see to it that the power is shut off from the source to avoid the risk of electrocution.
  • Other than the common problems mentioned earlier, you may need to install a new or upgraded electrical outlet if you are upgrading or adding major appliances in your home such as microwaves, washers, dryers, and hot tubs. These appliances will typically require a dedicated outlet to function properly.