My husband and I are in the midst of a major overall of our 1979 home. One of the millions of tasks on our list is to replace the old outlets, which are ugly and barely hold onto the cords we put in them. Last Saturday morning, I tackled the first room and replaced all the outlets in it! As it turns out, it’s not that hard. It just takes a few supplies, watching a some You Tube videos, putting on your thinking cap, and rolling up your sleeves. Here’s how.
Supplies (you really do need ALL of these):
- new outlets
- voltage sensor ($20 at Lowes)
- outlet tester ($5 at Lowes)
- needle nose pliers
- flathead screw driver
- wire strippers (You may not need these, but I did.)
Before you begin, schedule a manicure (or plan to give yourself one as I did). After a few hours of this, I had total man hands.
First, watch a few You Tube videos on how this is done. (You can learn anything on You Tube these days! Thank you, self-filming handymen.)
Next, go to the store and get your supplies. No skipping on the voltage sensor or outlet tester! No one wants you to become a vegetable because you touched a live socket, and we don’t want you to burn your house down because you unknowingly wired the outlet wrong.
Now you’re ready to begin. Find your breaker box and turn off the breaker that leads to your outlets. Instead of running back and forth through the house, I plugged in a radio to the outlet I wanted to kill. Test that there is no juice coming to the outlet by holding your voltage sensor up to it. (Test the little booger first on an outlet that you know is hot.)
Once you’re certain the power is off, unscrew the outlet from the wall. Gently (but firmly too, if that makes sense) pull the outlet away from the wall. If your outlets aren’t that old, you can just unscrew each of the wires. Mine were old backstabbed boxes (learned that new term while doing this project), so I had to cut the wires out with my needle nose pliers and then strip the coating off the end of the wire. Put the white wires off to the left side, the black wires off to the right, and the ground to the bottom of your opening.
Now put the wires onto the new outlet. I found the best way to do this is to make a little shepherd’s hook on the end of each wire. Then it slides right in behind the screw…sometimes. The wires can be kind of a pain to get onto the outlet. Once the wire is in, hold it taught and tighten the screw. Do this for the remaining four wires. (This part gave me man hands!)
Now that the new outlet is wired up, gently but firmly place the wires back into their little box. I found this to be really hard. I pretty much gave it everything I had to get the stupid, I mean, functional wires back into place (more man hands). Once everything is back in box, screw the outlet back onto the wall.
Insert the outlet tester you bought for five bucks. Now go turn the power back on. Use the little color codes on the tester to see if you’ve wired the outlet correctly. If so, congrats! Replace the decorative plate, kill the power again, and move on to your next outlet.
Time for that manicure…