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Installing or Replacing a Receptacle

If a receptacle doesn't seem to work, first check that whatever is plugged into it works properly. Replace any receptacle that is cracked. Before buying a replacement receptacle, check the wiring. Usually the wires leading to a receptacle will be #14 and the circuit breaker or fuse will be 15 amps. In that case, install a 15-amp receptacle. Install a 20-amp receptacle only if the wires are #12 and the circuit breaker or fuse is 20 amps or greater.

Step 1: Check that the power is off

Step 1: Check that the power is off Turn off power to the circuit. Test to confirm. If the tester shows current, check your service panel and turn off another likely circuit. Test again and proceed only if power if off. Remove the cover plate and unscrew the mounting screws. Being careful not to touch the wires or terminals, pull out the receptacle.

Step 2: Double check wires for power

Step 2: Double check wires for power In a damage receptacle, wires may be hot (energized) even though testing shows no power. Touch tester probes to the top pair of terminals, then to the bottom pair. If you have old wiring and both wires are black, use a receptacle analyzer to check that the neutral wire is connected to the silver terminal and the hot wire to the brass.

Step 3: Snip and restrip damage wire ends

Step 3: Snip and restripe damage wire ends Once you're sure the power if off, unscrew the terminals and pull away the wires, taking care not to twist them too much. If a wire end appears nicked or damaged or if it looks like it's been twisted several times, snip off the end and restrip it.

Step 4: Install the receptacle

Step 4: Install the receptacle Wire the new receptacle as the old one was (each white wire connected to a silver terminal and each black or colored wire connected to a brass terminal). Wrap with electrician's tape to cover all terminals and bare wires. Gently push the outlet into the box. Tighten the mounting screws and check that the receptacle is straight. Replace the cover plate, restore power, and test with a receptacle analyzer.