How to Wire a Two-Way Electrical Outlet

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A two-way, or duplex outlet, is the common electrical outlet we're familiar with in our homes. These will occasionally need to be replaced, or you may need to wire a new one in a remodeling job or addition. This basic piece of electrical wiring is a skill every homeowner should be familiar with--it requires only basic tools and a few minutes of time.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire cutters/strippers
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Screwdriver
  • Turn off all power to the circuit you'll be working on by switching the circuit breaker to "OFF" at the circuit breaker box.

  • Strip 3/8 to 1/2 inch of insulation from the wires you'll attach to the outlet with wire strippers. If the outlet will be part of a circuit leading to another outlet, a switch, or a light, strip the same amount of insulation from that pair of wires as well.

  • Bend the bare wires so that each is shaped like a small hook, large enough to fit over the screw terminals of the outlet. A small pair of needle-nosed pliers is perfect for this task.

  • Loosen the screw terminals on the sides of the outlet with a screwdriver. Back the screws out far enough so that you can slip the ends of the wires over them easily.

  • Take the first pair of wires and slide one wire over the the first brass-colored screw terminal, and one wire over the first silver-colored terminal. Tighten the screws so that the wires are securely held in place. Repeat this process with the second pair of wires and second set of screw terminals.

  • Push the outlet into the gang box in your wall, and screw it in place with two screws, one at the top, and one at the bottom.

  • Turn the power on and test the outlet. Then put the outlet cover onto the outlet with a screwdriver.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never work on live electrical circuits. Always turn off the power at the circuit breaker box and inform other members of the household what you're doing.

References

  • Complete Wiring; Stanley; 2008
  • Electrical Wiring Residential; Ray C. Mullin; 2007
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