How to Replace an Electrical Outlet With 3 Wires

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Electrical outlets, or receptacles, allow you to connect an appliance to electrical wires inside your home. Electrical outlets in the United States come in 110-volt with three wires: a black power wire, a white neutral wire and a green or bare grounding wire. Outlets come in many styles and colors, but all outlets operate with the same basic principles. When replacing a three wire electrical outlet, you disconnect the existing outlet, then follow a simple color-coded wiring scheme. Replacing an electrical outlet is not a difficult task but requires safety precautions to be done safely and correctly.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Multimeter
  • Electrical outlet
  • Locate the main circuit breaker inside the electrical panel, and flip its switch to its "Off" position. The main circuit breaker has the highest amps amongst all breakers inside the panel and typically occupies the topmost position.

  • Remove the cover plate screws with a screwdriver, then pull the cover plate off the wall. After removing the cover plate, unscrew the screws that hold the electrical outlet to the wall. Outlets are typically mounted onto a wall, using screws placed on top, and at the bottom of the outlet. A cover plate is mounted over the outlet to hide and protect the wires inside the outlet. Pull the outlet carefully out of the outlet box to expose the terminal screws behind the outlet.

  • Set the dial of a multimeter to 120-volts AC range and test the outlet to make sure that there is no more power. Hold the probes of the multimeter in each hand, then press the tip of the black probe against the tip of the black wire on the outlet. Press the tip of the red probe against the tip of the white wire. The multimeter should not display any reading. Loosen the terminal screws at the back of the existing outlet and remove the attached wires.

  • Hold a new electrical outlet similar to the one you removed earlier, and loosen each terminal screw behind the outlet. Hook the black wire clockwise around the brass terminal screw. Hook the white wire clockwise around the silver terminal screw, and hook the green or bare wire around the green terminal screw.

  • Tuck the wires into the outlet box, and mount the outlet onto the outlet box, using screws supplied with the outlet. Replace the outlet's cover plate. Turn the main circuit breaker switch inside the electrical panel to its "On" position. Plug a 110-volt appliance into the outlet to test the circuit.

Tips & Warnings

  • Replacing an electrical outlet is a dangerous task. Call an electrician if you do not possess qualified training and experience.
  • The voltage, and ampere rating of the new outlet must be the same as the rating of the electrical wires, and circuit breaker.

References

  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images
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