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Receptacle (Outlet) Testers

With a ten-dollar three-prong outlet tester, all you do is plug it in and a light will tell you if the receptacle is working correctly. It will also help to ensure that the receptacle is cold before you work on it. How easy is that?

Note: If the outlet is not working properly, check to see if it has been wires have become loose or were somehow installed backwards, reversing the outlet's polarity. Hot wires are black (or red) and connect to brass screws; neutral wires are white and connect to silver-colored or white screws. If the outlet is grounded, there will be a bare or green wire attached to a green screw. Check to make sure the exposed wires behind the screws are clean. If not, see our section on Stripping Wires. Turn power back on and test again.