Okay, so this is not one of those posts about beautiful home decor. In fact, there’s nothing really pretty about it at all, but it’s definitely one for the handy DIY people out there. Sometimes outlets need to be changed out due to safety reasons. Maybe they don’t work anymore. Maybe they won’t even hold a plug, or in my case, maybe they are just plain ol’ U-G-L-Y. Our home is 15 years old. When it was built, homeowners were given two color options: gray or beige. And for those that chose beige, they were also gifted with outlets that are that nice dirty almond color. BLAH. So, step one in my up and coming laundry room re-do is to change out those ugly almond outlets.
Now, I know some of you aren’t too comfortable when it comes to the electrical DIY projects. I get that. And frankly, it’s a good thing if this sorta project scares you. Trust me, electrical projects is not something to take lightly (pun intended!) and as long as you keep that in mind, you’ll be a lot more careful. 🙂 I’m going to walk you through these instructions on how easy it is to change out your own outlets.
Let me start by sharing a few tips. First of all, don’t paint your outlets. Paint is never good for an electrical outlet for obvious reasons, but it also ends up looking terrible. Case in point: (I told ya this wasn’t pretty!)
Even if you use a primer first, over time the paint wears off. To get a good cover you risk damage to the outlet if paint gets inside. Besides, outlets are inexpensive and easy to switch out.
Next tip – Don’t attempt to replace outlets or do any electrical work with the kiddos around. Doo you really want your toddler to see you sticking your fingers in the electrical outlet? Yeah, me neither. This is another great naptime project! Oh, and I recommend doing this in the daylight hours. It’s a little more challenging trying to do electrical work in the dark if you know what I mean. 😉
Okay, so let’s get started. Here’s what you need to get the job done:
- outlet and outlet cover
- flat head screwdriver
- needle nose pliers
WAIT! Turn off the power to the outlet you want to replace.
1. Turn off the power to the outlet and be sure, double sure that you have checked both outlets that they are off. I used a small lamp, and plugged it into the outlet to make sure I flipped the right switch and there was no chance I missed this step.
2. Remove the face plate and the two mounting screws from the outlet.
3. Remove the outlet from the wall and take notice of how the wires are connected. Wires could be connected by screws or they may be plugged into the back of the outlet. If they are attached by screws, just loosen the screws and remove the wires. If they are plugged into the back, insert a small flathead screwdriver into the slot on the back of the outlet next to the wire to release it. Most outlets will have this slot labeled on the back.
4. Be sure you take notice of the colors of the wires and how they are connected to the outlet. We don’t want to get our wires crossed when we install the new outlet. 🙂
5. Look at the back of your new outlet. You should notice that one side of the outlet has silver screws for the white wire, and the other side has gold screws for the black live wire. You can attach your wires by hooking them onto the corresponding screws, pinch them tightly, and tighten the screws. In this example, I plugged the wires directly into the back of the outlet. You can see one of these slots indicated by the arrow below. Again, be sure you plug your black and white wires into the appropriate sides.
6. The green wire is the ground bare wire and should attach to the green screw on the side of your new outlet. Hook the wire around the screw. Use needle nose pliers to close the loop and tighten the screw to insure the wire doesn’t come loose.
You can see here an example of how I plugged the wires into the back of the new outlet. The black wire on the right is not plugged in all the way as the bare wire is still showing. Be sure to press firmly when plugging the wires into your new outlet.
Once you’re finished, your outlet should once again look like this.
9. Replace the face plate and turn the power back on to the outlet. Be sure to test that both plugs work properly.
10. Bask in your successful completion of an electrical home repair project and call it done!
Electrical projects around the home should definitely be taken seriously. But don’t be afraid of changing out old outlet receptacles or even installing some new updated lighting. With the right tools and some safety precautions, you can complete your own electrical DIY repairs!