How to Replace an Electrical Wall Socket

Written by damon hildebrand
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How to Replace an Electrical Wall Socket
Maintain wall sockets in a safe and operable condition. (plug in image by askthegeek from

Intimidation prevents many homeowners from attempting to perform their own home electrical repairs. However, there are many small electrical repairs around the house that homeowners can tackle themselves. Replacing an electrical wall socket is one such project. Speciality tools are not necessary for swapping out a socket.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Flathead screwdriver

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  1. 1

    Plug a radio into the wall socket and turn it on. The noise from the radio helps to isolate the electrical circuit at the fuse box.

  2. 2

    Turn off the breaker on the fuse box that controls power to the wall outlet. If the radio shuts off, this is verification that the proper breaker is off. If not, continue trying each single-pole breaker until the noise from the electrical device goes off.

  3. 3

    Verify power to the radio is off--and the radio is not just switched off--before removing the wall socket. When you are satisfied that power is off to the outlet, unplug the device.

  4. 4

    Remove the screws from the faceplate with a screwdriver. Set the screws aside. Remove the faceplate.

  5. 5

    Remove the upper and lower screws from the socket with the same screwdriver. The screws will back out of the outlet box holding the socket but will remain with the socket when it is pulled away from the wall. Back the screws out fully until the socket is free from the outlet box.

  6. 6

    Pull the socket away from the wall to access the electrical wires. It should come out 3 to 4 inches, allowing access to the socket's terminal screws on each side.

  7. 7

    Remove the screw holding the black wire to the socket with the screwdriver. By removing the screw completely, the electrical wire will retain its form and make it easier to reconnect to the new socket.

  8. 8

    Back out and remove the screws holding the white wire (neutral) and the green wire (ground) to the socket.

  9. 9

    Take out the same screws from the new wall socket. Unscrew the dark copper screw for the black wire, the silver screw for the neutral wire and the green screw for the ground wire. Retain the screws for use when connecting the wall outlet wiring to the new wall socket.

  10. 10

    Hold the socket in place with one hand, then insert the dark copper screw through the black wire's tip and into the socket. Start the threads by hand, then tighten the screw the rest of the way with the screwdriver.

  11. 11

    Insert the silver screw through the white wire's tip and screw it into the opposite side of the socket. The wire orientation will be the same on the new wall socket as it was on the old one.

  12. 12

    Install the green wire in the same manner and push the wall socket into the outlet box. Line up the wall socket attachment screws--one at the top, and one at the bottom--to the holes in the outlet box.

  13. 13

    Thread the screws into the box and tighten them with the screwdriver.

  14. 14

    Insert the faceplate over the wall socket and fasten it into place with the screws.

  15. 15

    Turn the appropriate breaker back on and test the new wall socket with the radio.

Tips and warnings

  • Install a new faceplate at the same time the wall socket is replaced to avoid mismatched colours.
  • Verify the power is off to the outlet before removing the faceplate. Not doing so could result in electrocution.

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