How to Wire a Three-wire Outlet

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Electrical outlets can become damaged over time. Changing outlets is a common part of the electrical maintenance process of a home. Most electrical outlets are wired with two wires and a ground. Occasionally you will find an outlet with three wires and a ground. The outlet used is the same regardless of the amount of wires you have in the electrical box. Wiring a three-wire outlet correctly is important in helping to prevent an electrical fire.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Turn off the circuit breaker to the outlet you will be working on. Turn off the main circuit breaker to turn off power to the whole house if you are unsure of which breaker belongs to the outlet.

  • Install the green cable or bare copper cable to the green screw on the outlet. With the needle-nose pliers wrap the wire around the screw and secure it in place with the screwdriver.

  • Place the white wires from the electrical box to the silver screws on the outlet. Use the pliers to wrap the wire around the screw and tighten it with the screwdriver. No matter how many white cables you have, they all go with the silver screws.

  • Wrap the red and black wires from the electrical box to the gold screws on the outlet. With the pliers, wrap the wires around the screw and secure it with the screwdriver. You can place the red and black wires together on the gold screw. Place the outlet back into the wall and secure it with the screwdriver.

  • Turn on the circuit breaker and test the outlet. If the outlet is not working, turn off the circuit breaker and inspect for any loose wires.

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