This is the third part of a three part article that should be read in sequence. Along with parts 1 and 2, all three parts explain how to replace an existing grounded three-prong electrical outlet with a new outlet on a 125 volt household electrical circuit.
Installing the new outlet
After testing the existing outlet, shut off the circuit breaker or remove the fuse for the circuit at the main electrical panel. Leave the tester plugged into the outlet so that the lights go out when the circuit is shut off. One person can find the right breaker, but a second person is helpful when the outlet and service panel are far apart or separated by something like a basement or garage.
Once the power is turned off, replace the outlet. First, remove the outlet cover by unscrewing the small screw in the center of the cover. Next, remove the long screws at the top and bottom tabs of the outlet and pull the outlet out from the box. If the outlet was wired right, simply install the wires on the new outlet the same way, making sure to:
- wrap each wire in the direction the screw tightens,
- bare enough wire to wrap around the whole screw without overlapping itself,
- compress the wire in a circle around the screw with needle nose pliers so that the wire fits loosely against the screw allowing it to tighten,
- then tighten each of the terminal screws snugly enough to keep the wires from moving when the outlet is handled.
Many new outlets have slotted wire stripping guides on their backs to gauge how much wire to strip. Most outlets also have round holes on the back with spring clamps that fasten down on the wire to hold it permanently in place when the wire is inserted, making it unnecessary to use the terminal screws on the sides of the outlet to make wire connections every time.
If the tester shows any wires are reversed, attach the wires to the right screw terminals on the new outlet. Make sure to wrap the wires around each screw in the direction the screw tightens, bare enough of each wire to wrap around the whole screw without overlapping itself, compress each wire in a circle around the screw with needle nose pliers so that each wire fits loosely against the screw allowing it to tighten, then tighten each of the terminal screws clockwise and snugly enough to keep the wires from moving when the outlet is handled.
After tightening the wires, push the outlet back into the box without allowing any wire to bend in a sharp angle, reattach the two mounting and cover screws, check the outlet with the receptacle tester to make sure it’s wired the right way, and the job is done.
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