Power Outlet Went Out? Repair It With These Tips

Sometimes, a wall outlet can experience power fluctuations or problems that damage the wires inside it. Using multiple high-powered equipment in the home, experiencing bad weather and some other hazardous problem can create power surges in your electrical system. You can replace the damaged outlets on your own with the right tips. Here's what you need to buy and tips to remove and replace the outlet.

Buy Your Replacement Supplies

You need to purchase several supplies for the job. One of the most important supplies is an electrical wall outlet tester. Most home and garden retailers in your area sell inexpensive electrical testers that you can use for this project and any future electrical jobs you need to do. Because you're just replacing the wall outlet and not any other electrical piece in your home, you only need a non-contact voltage tester to make sure that the outlet is dead before you work on it. You'll also use the tester again during the replacement.

Also, purchase a roll of masking tape, a flat head screwdriver, pliers, and replacement outlet. Be sure to write down the type of outlet you currently have in the socket to avoid purchasing the wrong one. 

Replace the Electrical Outlet

Before you begin, cut the electrical power to everything in your home at the circuit breaker to protect your skin from electrical shocks. Now, replace the outlet with these tips:

  1. Turn on the tester, place your hand over the insulated end of the tester and insert the tip of it into the thin or narrow prong slot. This is the hot slot, which would normally contain a live wire. The wide slot contains a neutral wire, and the large round slot contains a grounding wire.
  2. Wait a few seconds to see if the hot wire activates the tester, which should light up if the wire has power or electricity running through it. If the tester remains off, the outlet is dead, which means you can replace the outlet.
  3. Remove the plate over the outlet with your screwdriver, then stop. If the wires appear burnt, frayed or completely unrecognizable, contact an electrician and have them replace your outlet. If the wires appear in good shape with no visible damage, you can proceed.
  4. Test the red or black live wire one more time. The neutral wire is usually white or gray, while the grounding wire is green.
  5. Wrap a small piece of masking tape over each wire, then use an ink pen to write down their colors. This step keeps you from mixing the wires up during the replacement.
  6. Use your screwdriver to remove the old outlet from its wall box, then use your pliers to strip away some of the insulation from the wires. You need new wire to wrap around the outlet's terminals.
  7. Connect or wrap the green wire to around the grounding terminal first, followed by the neutral wire, then the red or black live wire. If you need visual assistance, follow the directions in the new outlet's instructional sheet.
  8. Place the outlet back into the wall box, then cover it with the face plate. 

Before you turn the home's power back on, stick the tip of the voltage tester into the live socket. Be sure to keep your hand placed over the insulated part of the tester to avoid shocks. If the tester lights up, you replaced the outlet correctly. You can turn the power back on. If the tester remains off, contact an electrician to troubleshoot the outlet for you.

At any time that you feel uncertain or uncomfortable about replacing your damaged wall outlet, call a local electrician and schedule a repair appointment. In addition, ask the electrician to inspect your home to see if you can install surge protectors in each power outlet or upgrade your circuit breaker to protect your home from future problems.