How hard is it to switch plugs?

Discussion in 'Electrical and Wiring' started by WestBentley, Feb 19, 2007.

  1. Feb 19, 2007 #1

    WestBentley

    WestBentley

    WestBentley

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    How hard would it be to unhook and replace the plugs in the walls - not the whole box, but the part you see through the cover? Our plugs may have once been white but are definitely yellowed looking and I want to replace all the outlet covers and actually plastic plugs so they'll match the white trim in the rooms instead of looking dirty. I've got zero electrical experience, but my fiance knows enough to replace light fixtures without incident, so I'm guessing he could do this and probably show me how as well? Any website w/how-to's would be appreciated, I'm trying to be a Ms. Fixit rather than a Ms. Wait for the Man to Fixit!
     
  2. Feb 19, 2007 #2

    CraigFL

    CraigFL

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    Usually this is easy BUT.... there can be some problems, especially with older wiring where there can be no extra ground wire or return ground path. As long as you replace with a standard 3 prong outlet and you have white, black and ground wire, it will be very easy.
     
  3. Feb 19, 2007 #3

    WestBentley

    WestBentley

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    The house was only built in '88, so I'm pretty sure the wiring is standard. Glad to hear it might be easy. Aaron is the big picture guy, but I want the details to be right!
     
  4. Feb 19, 2007 #4

    Square Eye

    Square Eye

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    Use a tester to make sure the power is off (at the breaker panel) to every receptacle before you start each one!!

    Black or red wires should always be attached under brass screws, or in stablocks on the brass side.

    White wires should always be attached under the silvery screws or in the stablocks on the silvery side.

    Ground, green or bare copper wires should always be under the green screws near the ends of the receptacle.


    If the wires are currently attached in the stablocks in the back of the receptacle, you will need a small screwdriver to release them.
    Place the small screwdriver in the slot near the wire and apply pressure while pulling the wire out.
    Other wise they can break off from trying to rip them from the binds.


    It's not hard, but it can get you burned, hurt, nearly blinded from flash, or killed.
    Use a tester to make sure the power is off (at the breaker panel) to every receptacle before you start each one!!
     
  5. Feb 19, 2007 #5

    WilliamC

    WilliamC

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    Once you pull the outlet out you can see how it's wired. Usually it's white to the silver colored screws and black to the brass colored screws. The green screw ( or one off to the metal side) is ground. Just make sure you have the power shut off to the outlets before hand. If you don't know what you are doing the whole job should take about 2 minutes per outlet, and about 1.5 minutes if you do know what you are doing. It's that easy. The last house I had had several bad outlets so i went ahead and spent about $35 and replaced every outlet and most of the covers in the whole house. It took me about an hour to do the entire house ( i did this just as i was moving in and cut power from the Main).
     
  6. Feb 19, 2007 #6

    Kerrylib

    Kerrylib

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    Good description Square Eye.

    Replacing an outlet should be something most anyone can accomplish. Make SURE the power is off before you go poking around.

    Browse through some of the wiring how to books. Many have good pictures of how the outlets are to be wired. Good to know before you start, just in case the first one you open up is wired backwards or you pull the wires off and don't get them wired back on immediately.

    When you look at the plug face, notice the slots are different sized. The bigger one is the neutral (white wiere, silver screw), the smaller slot is hot (black or maybe red wire, brass screw) and the D shapped one is ground (green or bare wire, green screw).

    One good suggestion I've seen (specifically for metal boxes) is to put about two wraps of black electrical tape around the outlet to cover the screws before pushing the outlet back into the box. Prevents shorts to the box if the outlet shifts any or isn't squared up inside the box.

    Also, a good practice for safety reasons is to install the outlet with the ground pins up. If the plug is not seated fully, there will be a small gap where things could slip behind the plug and contact the prongs. If you had something like a metal framed picture on the wall above this plug that happened to fall down, it might slip in that space and short out the plug. With the ground prong at the top, this scenario would lead to the metal picture frame landing on the ground prong. Similarily if the outlets are horizontal, mount them so the wide (neutral) side is on top.
     
  7. Feb 20, 2007 #7

    inspectorD

    inspectorD

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    I have done a little welding with wires and outlets myself. That would be the Flash Square Eye talked about....

    Any time I change outlets on a job, I have the electrician....they won't let me touch wires anymore.....install the outlet with the grounded D slot on the top.

    My electrician once found a loose plug with a metal curtain drapery pull chain...the hard way, when he went to open the drapes.....

    Seems the metal was resting on one of the hot legs and he was the ground.:eek:

    Moral...don't go around pulling open other peoples drapes.;)
     
  8. Mar 10, 2007 #8

    cjtursi1

    cjtursi1

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    All good tips and heres is another.The best connection is to bend a hook in the end of the wire and place it under the screw head.Stablock connections will not carry a larger load as it does not have as much surface area at the contact point.
     
  9. Mar 10, 2007 #9

    glennjanie

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    The hook is the way I wire receptacles too but, if the stablock is approved by Underwriters Laboratory, you can bet the ranch its safe. If they rate it for 15 amps, then the stablock will carry 15 amps.
    I have had considerable experience with Underwriters Laboratory and have complete confidence in their testing.
    Glenn
     
  10. Mar 27, 2007 #10

    WestBentley

    WestBentley

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    Follow up question to this - how do we know which type of plugs to buy? We were browsing the electrical section and there were about 3 types of plugs that appeared to be the same on the surface - 3 pronged holes, etc. But they were 'back wired' or some other names. What type of plug does a residential home typically use?
     
  11. Mar 28, 2007 #11

    glennjanie

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    In the kitchen and dining room I would use 20a receptacles, those with in 6' of water source should be GFCI. GFCI for the outdoor receptacles and the bathroom too.
    Then, the normal 15a receptacles (using #14 wire) would use standard 15 a equipment. All must have the 3 hole outlets and romex wire with a bare copper ground. Stab-Lok receptacles with the UL seal of approval are safe to use and much quicker to install.
    For GFCI's, it is permissable to use one GFCI and pass through it to other receptacles in the area (Say, 1 for the baths and 2 for the kitchen). GFCI's are usually rated at 15a but will pass through at 20a. The receptacles that are rated 20a are to be wired up with 12-2 w/G and it doesn't hurt a bit to use the 12-2w/G for all your wiring. I bought a 1,000' roll of the #12 and use a 15a breaker on the standard receptacles. I also bought a box of 10 GFCI's, a box of 10 20a, and 2 boxes of 15a.
    Clear as Mud? I'll be happy to try to help you sort it out, if you need it.
    Glenn
     
  12. Mar 30, 2007 #12

    AndyD5

    AndyD5

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    one thing I didn't see anyone mention you know how some rooms you have one outlet that the bottom work and the top is seperated onto a switch that's because the tabs next to the screws is broken and there is actually two sets of wire coming to that one outlet it could be that in that one box you find green or bare wire for ground one white and either two black wires or a black an a red if it's a newer home built the "right" way I have years of experience with electrical work of all sorts and those little things seam to be what people don't know and then they stick there fingers in there after putting one of those test lights in the outlet an think it is off and touch the screws and zap themself. FYI GFI means Ground Fault Interupt it's those mini curcuit breaker buttons on the outlet itself that say test reset or you may have one in the circuit panel itself with a red switch and an extra white coiled ground wire when you look inside the panel. if you get so bold as to not trust turning off the circuits and want to open the inner cover of the panel beware the fater the wire the more amperage which means how much faster it cooks your hamburger. most houses are supplied with 200 Amps these days even older houses usually get upgraded to 200 Amps and just as Glenn I would be happy to help with any questions I have a library of knowledge on the subject, and yes I have been shocked before
     

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