Introduction: Replacing Outlets

Hello, my name is Michael Schmig.

I like helping people save money in their daily lives with simple home repairs.

I am going to teach you how to save money on costly electrical repairs, putting more money back in your wallet allowing you to spend it on the things you enjoy.

I am going to show you the following three ways to save money doing the repairs yourself:

  • removing old or broken outlets
  • installing new outlets
  • upgrading outlets

I have saved hundreds of dollars replacing and upgrading all the outlets and light switches in my own house as well as in my friends' and family's homes.


You will need the following:

  • 1/4" flat-head screwdriver
  • #2 Phillips head screwdriver
  • multi-purpose wire strippers
  • flashlight
  • circuit tester (optional)
  • new electrical outlet
  • new electrical cover

Step 1:

First and foremost, turn off the power source at either the circuit breaker or main breaker for the entire electrical box. If the circuit for the outlet or switch is known, then turning off the circuit breaker is fine. However, if the circuit is unknown, turn off the main breaker. Depending on light sources where working, the flashlight may be needed to see when the power source is turned off.

Step 2:

Second, test the outlet with circuit tester if available or any appliance with an on/off switch to ensure the power to the outlet is disconnected. Do not continue on if the power is still on.

Step 3:

Third, using the 1/4" flat head screwdriver, remove the outlet cover screw and outlet cover.

Step 4:

Following the cover removal, unscrew the two outlet retaining screws using the #2 Phillips head screwdriver.

Step 5:

At this time, pull the outlet out of the electrical box exposing the electric wires. The black wire(s), on the side with the smaller slots on the outlet, are the hot lead(s). The white wire(s), on the side with the larger slots, are the neutral lead(s). The bare wire, connected to the bottom screw (usually green) on the outlet, is the ground wire. On newer outlets, the hot side of the outlet has brass colored terminal screws and the neutral side has silver colored terminal screws.

Step 6:

Continuing on, loosen all the terminal screws with the #2 Phillips head screwdriver on the electrical outlet with wires connected all the way. Disconnect all the wires attached to the outlet, releasing it from the wall. Discard the old outlet. Note: use the #2 Phillips head screwdriver to loosen or tighten the terminal screws going forward.

Step 7:

After removing the old outlet, inspect the electric wires for damage or corrosion. If the wires are damaged or installing a new type of outlet (USB or GFCI also known as GFI), use the multipurpose wire strippers to cut the bare ends of the wires off the hot and neutral leads. Strip the wires a 1/2 inch with the wire strippers using the correct gauge size. Note: there is a strip gage on the back side of the outlet to measure a 1/2 inch.

Step 8:

Next, loosen all the terminal screws, on the new outlet, needed to reconnect the leads.

Step 9:

Moving on, attach the ground wire to the new outlet. If it is a standard outlet, loop the bare ground wire around the grounding screw (green screw) and tighten the screw down snug. However if it is an USB or GFI outlet, straighten the wire end so it will slide under the backing plate on the grounding screw. Install the ground wire under the backing plate before tightening the screw down snug.

Step 10:

Right after the ground wire, attach the hot (black wire) and neutral (white wire) leads to the outlet. The hot leads go on the side with the smaller blade slot and brass colored screws. The neutral leads go on the side with silver colored screws and the larger blade slot. The hot and neutral leads on new outlets may be looped around the terminal screws or installed in the slot with the backing plates.

Step 11:

Next, gently push the outlet back into the electrical box aligning the outlet retaining screws to the corresponding screw holes. Tighten the screws down snugly with the #2 Phillips head screwdriver.

Step 12:

Now, install the outlet cover and outlet cover screw using the 1/4" flat head screwdriver.

Step 13:

Finally, turn the power back on to complete the project of replacing the outlet.