A household depends on electrical power for a wide variety of functions, ranging from powering large appliances to firing up a low wattage light bulb. When the individual receptacles that supply electrical power within the circuit system of the home become broken or outdated, they can be safely replaced by the do-it-yourself homeowner.
First, turn off the circuit breaker or remove the fuse that supplies power to the receptacle being replaced. Be sure to test the receptacle for the presence of power after turning off the circuit using a voltage tester. To do this, place one probe of the tester in each of the two vertical slots of the receptacle to test. Make certain each probe is deep within its respective slot.
Remove the cover from the receptacle and test the terminals on each side of the plug-in where the wires are attached for the presence of power. Unscrew the mounting screws that secure the receptacle to the electrical box, and pull the receptacle out from the box as far as the wire will allow.
The number of wires attached to the receptacle depends upon its position in the circuit. Identify the individual wires and their exact location on the receptacle terminals before removing them. Masking tape and a marker pen work well for this purpose.
Remove the wires from the old receptacle and attach them to the new receptacle in the exact same order that they were removed. Use the masking tape markers as a guide. If the bare end tips of the wires appear to be damaged in any way, cut them off and strip the insulation back ¾ of an inch. Form a new loop if necessary using a pair of needle-nose pliers.
Some new receptacles have plug-in connectors on the back of them to accommodate the wiring, as well as screw binding terminals on each side. The ground screw terminal, however, is always binding and not of the plug-in design. In any case, the receptacle’s bare copper grounding terminal screw will be colored green, the “hot” black wire terminal screw will be brass colored, and the white, or neutral, terminal screw will be silver.
The receptacle is now ready to be placed into the electrical box. Push the receptacle while creating a vertical folding pattern in an “accordion” fashion to help relieve stress within the wires and maximize space within the box for a proper fit. Attach the receptacle to the box by tightening the mounting bracket screws to the box.
Install the receptacle cover plate and restore the electrical supply. Test the receptacle for power with the voltage tester.
Remember, always work safely.