Many electrical projects are complex and require professionals, no matter how much of a DIYer you think you are.  But some simple tasks do not necessarily require a licensed and professional electrician. One such activity is replacing an electric outlet. For just a little bit of time and a little bit of money, you may be able to replace an electrical outlet. Here are the steps.

  1. Make sure the outlet needs to be replaced. Here is how.
    1. If the outlet feels hot or is producing sparks, smoke, or a burning smell, it needs to be replaced. It is a fire hazard.
    2. If an item plugged into the outlet is not working, plug it into another outlet. If the item works, the problem is the electrical outlet.
  2. Turn off the power at the electrical box. Use a voltage tester to ensure the power is off.
  3. Remove the wall plate. Unscrew the plate and put the screws and the plate aside. Remember where you put them. 
  4. Pull out the outlet receptacle.
  5. Double-check to ensure there is no power. Even if your test showed no power, test the terminal screws just to be safe.
  6. Identify the wiring. When you install the new outlet, you will want the wiring to be the same as it was in the old outlet. Take a picture with your phone and bring it to the hardware store.
  7. There are two sizes of 120-volt outlet receptacles, and you need to find the right one.
    1. Check the gauge of the wire and amperage. The receptacle wires most likely will be 14-gauge, which has the thickness of a dime. It will be paired with a 15-amp circuit breaker or fuse, so make sure you have that.
    2. Some circuit wires are 12-gauge, about the same thickness as a nickel. These are paired with a 20-amp circuit breaker or fuse, so make sure that is what you install. 
  8. Once you have the right gauge and fuse or circuit breaker, you can make the replacement.  Ensuring again the power is off, unscrew the terminals and pull away the wires. If the wires are nicked or damaged, use a stripping tool to snip off the end of the wire and restrip it.
  9. Install the new receptacle circuit by wiring it the same way the old one was (remember, you took a picture of it). Push the outlet gently back into the wall. Tighten the mounting screws, and then put the wall plate back in.
  10. Restore the power and test the outlet with the voltage tester.
  11. If you are not sure you know what you are doing, contact a licensed electrician.

Contact Ravinia Plumbing, Sewer, Heating & Electric for Your Electrical Needs

Ravinia Plumbing’s licensed electricians can help you with all of your electrical needs – big and small, including installing new electrical outlets. We’ve been in business since 1928, and we’ve made a name for ourselves as one of the most trusted and reliable plumbing, sewer, heating and air conditioning, and electrical companies in Chicagoland. Contact Ravinia Plumbing today to schedule an appointment to replace electrical outlets or for any other electrical services.