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Replacing a Grounding Outlet

These instructions are for an outlet that is rated 15 or 20 amps, 120 volts. To replace one rated 15 to 50 amps, 240 volts, skip ahead to Replacing a 120/240 Volt Outlet.

Disable the power, remove the cover plate and test the outlet to make sure the power is off. The grounding wire will be attached to the green grounding screw somewhere on the receptacle, a white wire will be attached to a white or silver-colored terminal screw and a black wire will be attached to a brass terminal screw. To remind yourself, it is helpful to map everything out on paper before you take things apart.

Tip: To mark the wires and screws on the outlet, use white electrical tape marked with a permanent marker to remind you what goes where. If you don't have white electrical tape, you can use plain old masking tape but remember to remove the tape before you install the receptacle in the box.

Loosen the screws to the wires and gently remove the old outlet. If the exposed wire ends look threadbare, you will want to strip the wires. Take the old outlet with you to the hardware store to ensure that you replace it with one that has the same amp and voltage rating.

Tip: If your home has aluminum wiring, it is vital that the outlet you use to replace the old one reads CO/ALR. Outlets marked CU/AL should also be replaced with ones marked CO/ALR. Follow the wiring instructions that come with your outlet carefully and use the terminal screws only when installing. If your home has solid aluminum wiring, it is a job for an electrician.

First wrap the grounding wire clockwise around the green grounding screw and tighten gently. Now wind the white wire clockwise to the appropriate silver (or white) terminal screw and the black wire to the appropriate brass terminal screw. Anchor the receptacle in the outlet box with screws and replace the cover plate. Restore power and enjoy.