Electrical Problem: Yes, You Can Replace the Receptacles in Your Residence!

The novice handyman may not have many electrical tools. You will need a pair of side cutters. Electricians call these linesman pliers. You will need to have a multiple tipped screwdriver. A pair of wire strippers will need to be procured. I also prefer to have a battery drill with a variety of tips. Also you should have a non-contact pen voltage tester. This tester is very handy however, this method of voltage testing is not always reliable. I use a commercial grade LED multi-meter. These meters can be a little pricey. You can get a cheaper one that will test voltage for around thirty dollars. Always remember when working on electrical circuits, de-energize the circuit. Electrocution is a reality. You can do this by manipulating the breaker. Cycle the breaker into the off position. If the breaker is on the left side of your panel, you would flip it to the left. If the breaker is on the right, click it to the right side of the box. Then test the voltage at the perspective receptacle.

Receptacles for residential settings come in three forms. You will need to check the UL listing on your new receptacles. The packaging should read fifteen amps, twenty amps, or even thirty amperage ratings. Your existing devices may not even have a grounding screw. If this is the case you will need to seek out matching devices. Otherwise, during inspection in the case of sales of the home, a test will reveal a lack of grounding. You will also need wire nuts and some scrap wire. Red wire nuts should work for three twelve gauge wire connections. A yellow wire nut will suffice for three fourteen gauge wires. If you are unsure of the size of the wire, utilize your wire strippers to check the size. I always bring some extra eight thirty-two screws. You will need matching plates. I utilize the large plates. This will ensure that any unpainted areas revealed during disassembly will be covered. Jumbo and regular sizes should also be available.

You may be asking yourself if it is difficult to install these receptacles. The first few may be a little tough. Your wire strippers have a hole on the side of them. You can use this to twist the stripped part of the wire so that it will lay around the screws on your receptacles. Stripping the end of your existing wire is easy. Find the correct size on your strip gauge. You will need to remove approximately a half of an inch. You will also need to include a third wire for the hot set and the neutral set. I twist all three of these solid wires together. They should be twisted well enough to stand all alone. Your third wire is known as a pig’s tail. The pig’s tail should be approximately six inches long. This will be the wire to connect to the device. I do not use the stabs in the rear of the device. Residential electricians use the stabs in the back, however over time the spring that connects to the stripped copper will release. Commercial electricians wrap the copper around the screw. The colored wire goes around the brass screw. Usually these colors will be black. Sometimes the wire may be colored red. The white wire will wrap around the silver screw. It is the neutral wire. The green wire or bare copper wire is the ground. You will need a copper sleeve to crimp over this set. This crimp will satisfy the code requirements for grounding.

The only safety concerns you should have is the presence of voltage during disassembly of the original items. Always check the electrical connections. Twisted connections that are landed under the wire nuts should be very tight. The tightness of the connection will ensure insulation of live circuits. After you finish your installation, cycle your circuit breakers into the on position. Always check the voltage with your multi-meter after completion. You can replace receptacles too!

George Argo

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