If an electrical outlet no longer holds a plug as it should, this is a reason for worry. So, before you have an electrical accident on your hands, you should replace the receptacle as soon as possible. Changing an electrical outlet could be done by a non-electrician, as it doesn’t require any special skills or knowledge.

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In this blog post, the Fantastic Services team will detail how to replace an electrical outlet by yourself. This is for all of you homeowners who are comfortable making small electrical repairs by yourselves.

Signs that you have a faulty outlet

If there is a problem with your electrical outlet, there will be some obvious signs. If you notice any of the following, it’s time you do something about it.

  • The outlet is not working. If your outlet is not working, or you notice the power to your appliance flickering, it’s a sign that your outlet needs to be replaced. Still, check your other outlets just in case. The problem might be the general power supply.
  • Burned or melted panel. If you notice the plastic cover panel melting, or if there are dark burn marks on the panel, or the wall surrounding the outlet, you should do something as soon as possible. The outlet could soon become an electrical fire hazard.
  • The outlet is hot. Maybe the panel isn’t melted or burned, but every time you touch it, it’s hot, even when you don’t have a plug in it. Basically, it’s still early, but soon you might start smelling melted plastic, or smoke. Don’t let it get too late. Act quickly.
  • You smell smoke or hear buzzing. If you don’t pay general attention to your outlets, then you should trust your other senses. If the situation is becoming critical, you would probably smell smoke, or hear sparks buzzing from the outlet.
  • Plugs don’t stay put. If you plug in an appliance in your outlet, but the plug easily slips off, then you have a faulty outlet. Outlets are supposed to keep the plugs snugly inside. If they don’t, you have to quickly do something about it.
Related: What Electrical Work Could I Do Myself

Common reasons for a faulty outlet

There are a few main reasons why you would need to change your electrical outlet. For example: 

Overloaded circuit

Electrical flow gets interrupted due to a blown fuse or a malfunctioning circuit breaker. This can cause an overload (too much current traveling through a wire), which in turn heats up the wire and can cause a meltdown. Thus, the cover panel will heat up, melt or get burned.

Open circuit interruptions

If there is an opening in the circuit, the wire is attached to, the electrical current can’t flow to its destination. This means that the circuit gets interrupted. Because of this, the power outlet might cause your appliance to experience power flickers, or the outlet might not work at all.

Short circuits

A short circuit occurs when an unintended connection forms with a ground wire, or another object that has a connection with the earth. This causes the electricity to run off the circuit, tripping a breaker and producing a spark. If this happens, your house’s electrical box will turn off the electrical supply to prevent further complications.

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Tools you need to replace an electrical outlet

  • Replacement receptacle;
  • Replacement panel;
  • Screwdrivers;
  • Voltage tester;
  • Wire strippers;
  • Needle-nose pliers.

How to replace an electrical outlet

Now that you’ve seen the signs of your faulty outlet and know what could be the cause of its malfunction, it’s time to get to work. Here is a quick guide on how to replace an electrical outlet, by the professional electricians from Fantastic Services.

  1. Turn off the power. The first thing you have to do is to turn off the power supply to the electrical outlet. Never do any electrical work if the power is still on! Once you turn off the power, use the voltage tester to make sure there is no energy flowing through the electrical outlet.
  2. Remove the cover panel. Use the screwdriver to unscrew the bolts that hold the plastic cover panel in place. Then, use the voltage tester again to make sure that the circuit is dead.
  3. Unscrew the receptacle from the electrical box. Now that you are absolutely certain it’s safe, you can unscrew the receptacle and pull it out from the wall. The wires will be still attached to it. Notice that there are black and white.
  4. Remove the wires. Carefully inspect the old receptacle to see where the wires are attached, it’s usually two sets of terminals on each side of the receptacle. One of them could be broken off. So you would have to break the other one yourself. Use long nose pliers to grip the wires and bend them back and forth until they break off.
  5. Attach the new receptacle. You now have to connect the wires to the terminals of the new receptacle. Line up the white wires and cut them equally. Strip back the insulation of the wire with wire strippers. Then, twist the exposed wire into a half-circle with the needle-nose pliers. Slip the wires around the silver screws in clockwise rotation, then tighten the screws.
  6. Push the new receptacle into the electrical box. With that done, all you have left to do is to push the new receptacle back into the hole and screw it securely in place.
  7. Place the cover panel. If your plastic cover panel was melted or burned, it might be a good idea to install a new one. Once your job with the outlet is done, you can screw the panel back and turn on the power. Test your new outlet. It should be working fine.

Rely on a professional handyman to do the job for you

Replacing an electrical outlet is not a difficult task as long as you know what you’re doing. However, from our experience, we’ve noticed that a lot of people prefer not to get their hands on electrical DIY because of the dangers of electricity. If you this applies to you, there’s no shame in asking for help from a professional. The Fantastic Services team is always ready to lend a hand. 

Visit the main website for price rates on our professional electricians!

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Takeaways

  • If you have a faulty electrical outlet, there would no doubt be signs – melted plastic panel, the smell of smoke, or flickering power. If you notice any of those, you have to replace your outlet.
  • The most common cause of a faulty electrical outlet has to do with the circuits.
  • Always remember to turn off the power supply when replacing an electrical outlet.

Electrical outlets are important and as a homeowner, you need to be sure they are in working order. If you don’t have the time, or the desire to do this small repair by yourself, you could always rely on professional electricians. You can get in touch with the Fantastic Services team by phone, email and our simple online booking form.

Image source: shutterstock / BOKEH STOCK

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Have you ever had a faulty electrical outlet in your home? How did you fix it? Tell us in the comments below!

  • Last update: September 25, 2019

Posted in Electrical Tips

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