GFCI , or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, outlets are required by code on outdoor outlets, or any outlet near a source of water. The one exception is that outlets intended for motor-driven appliances, like washers and driers, don't need a GFCI, as GFCIs don't work with inductive loads.
They work well when new, but eventually fail and need to be replaced. Here's how to replace a GFCI outlet- or any outlet, really- or replace a standard outlet with a GFCI outlet.
Step 1: What you'll need
It doesn't take many tools to do this job- here's what you'll need:
- New GFCI outlet
- Insulated screwdriver
- Outlet tester
- Non-contact tester
- Electrician's pliers
All are inexpensive. The non-contact tester is used to see if a circuit is "hot"- that is, if there's voltage on it. The Outlet tester is used to make sure you've wired everything properly.
Step 2: Turn off the power!
Go to your electrical panel and turn off the circuit for your outlet. Not sure which one it is? Don't worry, we'll check as we go along.
Step 3: Remove the faceplate
Unscrew the two short screws that hold the faceplate to the outlet, and put the plate and screws aside. If you put the screws in the upside down faceplate, there's less chance you'll lose them!
Step 4: Remove the outlet
Remove the two long screws that hold the outlet to the box, and carefully withdraw it...
Step 5: Double check the power!
Using the non-contact tester, check the black wire... oops, looks like this one's still hot. Don't wait until you've pulled the outlet all the way out of the box- keep checking from the moment you remove the faceplate!
Notice that all the exposed connectors on this outlet are covered with a wrap of electrical tape- that's a good precaution whenever you install an outlet or switch. It helps prevent accidental shocks the next time someone services the box.