Thursday, July 10, 2008

Replace a bad outlet (illustrated)

This will be another addition to my Handyman how to's in replacing a bad outlet. In my last post on replacing a bad outlet I talked about the nifty little tool that tests outlets to see if they are bad or not. What this circuit tester does is tell you what is wrong with the outlet. The common ones will tell you if you have a open ground, open neutral, open hot, hot/ground reverse, hot/neutral reverse, and of course the correct signal. The one that I have works by three lights as seen below.

Click an image to enlarge it

Here is a picture of me testing an outlet, in this case the outlet is "correct" and working as it should be. But for this tutorial I am going to replace it anyways just so I can show you how the Tampa Bay handyman does it.

First step is to secure the circuit to the the outlet, if your breaker box isn't properly labeled then an easy way to find out what breaker it is may be to keep your circuit tester in the outlet and flip the breakers one by one until all of the lights on the circuit tester go out. Now that we got the power off we can start by taking the outlet cover off.

Once the cover is off its always a good idea to test the outlet to make sure there is no power going into it by some chance. It's better to be safe then get the sheet shocked out of you trust me being shocked by 120v is no fun what so ever !

Now we are positive that there is no electricity going into the outlet receptacle so next you wanna loosen the mounting screws holding the outlet receptacle into place.

Once the screws are free from the receptacle outlet you can pull the outlet from the wall, for those of you that have never done any electrical work before the wires will give some tension but not much at all.

Now unhook the wires from the bad outlet, sometimes they are inserted into the holes in the back of the outlet, sometimes they are held in by screws, if the wires are held in by screws then just simply unscrew them, if they are inserted into the back of the outlet there should be a little slot either above or below the outlet, if you push that slot in with a small pin or screwdriver the wires will easily slide out, but me personally I just wiggle them out and use just a little bit of force.

Now if the old outlet had the slide in wires and so does your new one just simply slide each wire into the new outlet, the hot wire(s) (usually black) go to the right side of the outlet receptacle. The neutral wire(s) will go to the left. And the ground wire will go to the green screw.

When securing a wire using a screw use caution because a beginning handyman in training just might stick it under the screw and tighten down and the wire will just usually pop out, or they may think they have the wire secure until go to push the outlet back inside the receptacle box just to see it pop out, or worse find out the wire wasn't secured properly when they go to turn the breaker back on and here a loud 'pop' !

When securing a wire by screw you want to bend the wire into a hook shape like so.

Then you want to hook it against the screw but the trick is to make sure the hook is going the same way that the screw is going to be turning to tighten, this way the screw will pull the wire closer making it very secure and tight, if you hook the wire the opposite direction the screw is going to be pushing the wire away from it. So make sure the hook and screw are going the same direction.

Hook up both wires to the outlet receptacle, hot to the right and white to the left. Ground to the green if there is one. Make sure the connection is secure, if you pull the wire from the screw with your hand it is not secured tight enough. Push the outlet receptacle back into the junction box. Tighten the outlet down with the top and bottom mounting screws. Put the outlet cover back on. Then turn the breaker back on to the outlet and test for power. Thats it. Your done. If you have any questions at all please feel free to leave them in the comments, I will answer as soon as possible, now I know I didn't cover outlets run by toggle switch or reverse outlets but I will be doing that in a future post, but if you need to know something before its up just leave me a comment and I will get back to you. Tampa Bay handyman makes it easy to replace a bad outlet.

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