Do it yourself wiring - Bacic Electrical Outlet
Wiring Home > Electrical > Electrical Outlets > Basic Electrical Outlet
Caution: To prevent severe shock or electrocution always turn the power OFF at the service panel before working with wiring.
Never Assume the power is off! Always double check, and test the device before you begin work.
This section covers the basic wiring of an electrical outlet, if you can turn a screwdriver it is fairly simple to do yourself.
Procedure to replace a standard electrical outlet.
1) Turn off power.
2) Use a voltage meter or plug a lamp or radio into the outlet to make sure the power is off.
3) Remove cover plate and outlet from the wall while keeping the wires connected.
4) Inspect the wires that are connected to the outlet. If you have newer cable you should have 1 or 2 black wires, 1 or 2 white wires, and 1 or 2 bare ground wires.
If you have older wiring, you may need to mark which wire is connected to the brass terminal and which wire is connected to the silver terminal.
5) Once you are sure which wire is which, you can disconnect the wires from the old outlet.
6) Now connect the new outlet, while making sure to connect the white wires to the silver terminal and black wires to the brass terminal. Connect the ground wire to the green screw, and also to a green screw on the electrical box, if it is a metal box.
7) Check and make sure your connections are not loose.
8) Replace the outlet in the box, and the cover plate.
9) Turn the power ON.
10) Test your work.
1) Make sure all devices and splices are in a UL listed electrical box of the proper size.
2) Make sure you attach the ground wire to all metal boxes and all devices, with the proper ground screw.
3) Twist wires together with pliers, before you put the wire nut on. Double check to insure that the connection is tight, and that no copper is showing.
4) Always use the screws for termination of wires. Never use the holes in the back of a device for the connection.
5) Make sure to use the proper size wire for the ampere draw of the circuit. See wire size section, for more information.
Related Resources: National Electrical Code Handbook
National Electrical Codebook
Stallcup's Illustrated Code Changes
The Complete Guide to Home Wiring (Black and Decker Complete Guides Series)
Guide to Using the National Electrical Code
Residential Remodeling and Repair Professional Reference