March 25, 2010

How to change an OUTLET yourself!

My husband blessed me so much today! I've been wanting to learn so to change an outlet (receptacle) and switch. Well, I took a break from sewing, and he taught me how... Now you can follow the steps and do it too! Here's what you need: electrical kit, voltage tester, screwdriver (flat and Philips head), flashlight (I prefer the headlamp), and a new receptacle and wall plate (shown later). So, first, locate your breaker and TURN THE POWER OFF!!!!!
Here's my sad outlet. The wall around it is in progress of receiving new sheet rock and joint try to ignore the mess, if you can. IS YOUR POWER OFF TO THE OUTLET? It is? Okay then, unscrew the outlet from the wall:

Oh yuck! What a mess! Hope yours won't look like this. However, you SHOULD see one white wire, and one black (or red) wire, and hopefully a plain "grounding" wire (but mine did not). Time to clean it up...I should have used a knife, not my sewing snips! (That's the girl in me doing the man project : )!) :

After cleaning up the mess, I wrapped black electrical tape around each wire:

After the wires are nicely wrapped with the tape (only necessary to do if you have fabric covered old wires like mine), unscrew the side screws to loosen the wires. Separate the wires from the screws:

Using the needle nose pliers in your electrical kit, straighten out each hook in the end of the wires:

Using the gauge provided on the back of the new receptacle (backside), measure length of exposed copper wire and either a.) snip off the end if the wire is too long, or b.) strip the insulation off the wire if the exposed wire is too short. Most wires will be either 14 or 16 using that hole - 14gauge - on the wire stripper tool (in your electrical box), insert wire into hole, twist tool side to side gently, then pull straight out towards you, and outer wire insulation will slide right off! Again, recheck with gauge to make sure the exposed end is just the right size:

**If your wire is normal 14gauge size: leave exposed wires straight at end. Notice on back of new receptacle how each side is labeled. One says "white" and the other side says "black or hot". Insert the straight end of each wire into correct hole. It doesn't matter if you use the top or bottom hole on the side, but it does matter what color wire you put where:

**If your wire is bigger than a 14gauge size: with needle nosed pliers, curl up ends of exposed wire, remaking a small loop at each end:

**If you inserted the wires into the holes straight, you may skip the next 3 steps....

**If you curled the ends of the wires, follow ALL of the following steps....Next, loosen the side screws on the new receptacle:

Wrap "white" exposed wire end loop onto screw. IMPORTANT: the white wire must get attached to the side marked "white"! Picking the top or bottom screw on the side doesn't matter. After the wire is secured with pliers, you may tighten the screw down on top of the wire:

Now do the other side, making sure that the black wire goes on the side marked "black or hot". Here I am using the needle nose pliers to make sure there's a good fit of the exposed wire around the screw neck. Then, I tighten the screw down. Be careful not to tighten the screw too much, or you may damage the wire:

I know this is getting long, but hang in there! You're almost done!!! .... Just check both sides and make sure you've tightened the screws, and if there was a ground wire too, wrap it around the green screw on the new receptacle just like you did the other two:

Screw the outlet back into the wall box:

Open the new wall plate package:

Attach the new wall plate:

Insert the voltage meter into the outlet holes. Turn the POWER BACK ON to the outlet and you should now see the light glowing on the meter : )! Now you're good! And done! Great job!

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