Frequently Asked Questions About Outlet Replacement

If you have an outlet that is cracked or doesn't appear to be working, you may wonder about outlet replacement. If you have never had to replace an outlet before, you may have many questions about this process. Here are a few of the questions you may have, as well as the answers.

Why Would My Outlets Need to Be Replaced?

Your outlets may need to be replaced for a variety of reasons. One of the most common reasons why outlets are replaced is because they are cracked. An outlet that is cracked can be a safety hazard. Outlets that no longer hold a plug snugly should also be replaced. They can damage your electrical item by not properly supplying them with power. Another reason outlets are replaced is because they are outdated. Most outlets are three prong outlets. However, older outlets may be only two prong, which can limit what can be plugged into them. Additionally, outlets can be updated to modern options, such as USB outlets. This allows you to plug certain electronic devices directly into the outlet. The last frequent reason why outlets need to be replaced is because they are discolored. Over time, white outlets can begin to yellow. This can date your home. Replacing them with new outlets gives the area a clean, fresh appearance.

Is This Something I can Do Myself or Do I Need to Call an Electrician?

Replacing an electrical outlet is something the average do-it-yourselfer can do, as long as there are no complications or other issues. If you begin the process of removing an outlet from the wall and you notice moisture behind the wall where the outlet is, or if the wires appeared burnt or there are char marks near the wall, you will want to call in a professional. The electrical wiring may be damaged if moisture is present. Continuing to use a water-damaged outlet could result in your electronic item being damaged, or worse, electrocution for the person plugging the item in. Additionally, you need to figure out where the water is coming in from and have that repaired to prevent further damage to your outlets. If you notice any signs of fire or burning, your electrical wires need to be replaced. This is often caused by too high of an electric current traveling through the wires. If you continue to use the outlet, an electrical fire could occur.

What Steps Do I Follow to Replace the Outlet Myself?

If you are ready to replace the outlet, follow these steps:

  • Turn the fuse that controls your electrical outlet to the off position. This ensures you don't get electrocuted while doing this task. Never do any electrical work while the electricity is still flowing through the wires.
  • Unscrew and remove the outlet cover plate. Unscrew the screws holding the outlet or receptacle in place.
  • Gently pull the receptacle outward and pay close attention to where the black and white wires are positioned in the electrical box. The electrical box is the metal box behind your outlet receptacle that houses this unit. If possible, take a picture with your cell phone or write down where they are. Once you are sure you know where they are positioned, gently tug on them to pull them out of the receptacle and free it.
  • Take your new receptacle and attach the black and white wires to the new receptacle. Position the wires in the electrical box in the same position they were previously in.
  • Push the new outlet back in the wire box. Attach the screws to screw it back into place.
  • Put the cover plate back on, turn on the power and test your new outlet.

Replacing an outlet is not a hard task. However, there may be more to the outlet issue than meets the eye. If you go to replace the outlet and the issue is more complicated than you expected, or the outlet doesn't work when you replace it, you will want to call in a residential electrician to examine the situation and make any other repairs that may be necessary. For more information, contact a business such as All American Air & Electric, Inc.