How to Change That Bad Plug in Your House

The basic instructions on how to remove and replace a duplex plug outlet in your home.

When you plug in something to the electrical outlet on your wall does it have to be wiggled in order for it to stay on? Or does the outlet not work at all and you have to use a extension cord to another plug across the room in order to plug in the appliance you want to work? This outlet that is a bad outlet in your house can be bad due to being worn out from many years of use. It doesn’t hold the plug anymore tightly, it has to be wiggled just right in order for it to work. What a frustrating nuisance this plug has been. You can’t afford to pay an electrician to come in and fix it for you because you just know it will cost you a arm and a leg that you just can’t afford. Low and behold you yourself can fix this problem and it will cost you only a little bit of your time and less that a dollar for a new duplex plug outlet. As long as you can shut off the power going to that plug you can fix it. Have confidence in yourself and save yourself some money and get rid of the aggravation of that plug outlet that’s been frustrating you for years. The first step is to make sure you can turn off the power to that plug. Simply plug in two lamps into that outlet and wiggle them until they both light up. Have someone stand there and watch them until you flip off the right breaker in you breaker electric box until they both go off. Once you have found the fuse or breaker that shuts off that power to that outlet mark it on the box with tape or a marker so you know later the one that shuts off the power there. Flip it a few times to make sure as they watch the lights go on and off. This way you know its not the plugs default causing it to go on and off. If you are still Leary about touching the wires and getting shocked when your change the outlet. You can buy a simple tester to make sure the power is shut off at that plug. The only tools you will need is a pair of needle nose pliers and a straight slot and Philip head screwdrivers. With the power OFF! Take off the plate cover with the straight slot screwdriver. Once the cover is off you will see two screws that hold the duplex plug into the box. Unscrew these screws all the way out to pull the plug out. Not touching the wires pull the plug straight out towards you. It may be in there tight because the wires are crammed in behind it. Now examine the plug thoroughly and memorize the way its wired together. This is the point where your confidence must come into play. Take a picture of it, Draw a diagram or sketch of it so you can put it back together the same way with a new duplex plug. Notice that the wires are color coded. Usually black and white wires and a bare or green wire which is the ground wire. In most plugs the way they are wired is power comes into the plug and goes out to the next plug. Unless this is the last plug at the end of the power source. The main thing to remember is to wire it all back the same way as you see it on the old plug. On the sides of the duplex plug you will see silver screws on one side and brass or gold colored screws on the other. Today’s new and modern plugs have a green screw for the ground wires at the bottom of the plug. In your box if its a medal box the ground wires may be attached to the box itself with a screw. If that’s the case then you need to disconnect those from the box and screw them into the ground green screw on the plug itself. Now white wires get connected to the silver screws and black wires to the brass or gold colored screw side of the plug. The needle nose pliers are used to remove and reattach the wires around the screws on the plugs. Make sure the wires are held tight with the screws so when you push all the wires back into the box that they don’t come loose. Once your sure all connections are made and tight and the same as they were on the old plug. Push the excess wire back into the box as your pushing the plug back in far enough so it can be screwed back into place with the two screws that connect it to the box. Once you get the duplex outlet plug back into place. Look closely to see that none of your wires came loose from the plugs sides. Looking to that the ground wires are also still connected to the green screw. With a close examination and every wire connected exactly as the were but to the new plug you are ready to shut on the power and test your new plug. Do that before you put the plate cover back on just to make sure this new plug is a good plug. With your confidence and just a little effort you now have successfully changed out a duplex plug outlet that has bugged you for years. You can do the same thing with switches too. Just always make sure the POWER IS OFF! I’ve seen electricians change plugs and switches without shutting off the power and with a careful hand did not get shocked. I’ve been shocked myself trying that. Not anymore for me. I always make sure the POWER IS OFF! Electrician’s have told me to just remember not to touch two different colored wires at the same time. Yeah OK! Even when I’m sure the power source is off I still make sure I do that. Have the confidence and do the job yourself and save the money you would have to pay a electrician to change a simple duplex plug outlet. I did and it works.

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Published in: Do-It-Yourself


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