Get Grounded In Your Old House By Replacing Those Two-Pronged Outlets

21 October 2015
 Categories: , Blog

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If you still have two-pronged outlets in your home, you're not as safe as you could be. Grounded outlets are standard in home construction now, and many appliances require a grounded three-pronged outlet to operate. If you're not comfortable working with the electricity in your home, have an electrical contractor replace those outlets for you. But if you know how to work with electricity safely, here are the steps to do this project yourself.

What You'll Need for This DIY Project

  • flat-blade screwdriver
  • wire cutters, wire stripper or pocket knife

From the home remodeling center:

  • small coil of green insulated copper electrical wire made for a ground
  • one three-pronged outlet for each two-pronged outlet you want to replace

To make sure you get the right outlet, check the circuit breaker box in your home. Find the breaker for the room in which you wish to replace the outlets. Look at the number printed on the breaker to determine which outlet to get. If the number is 15, then you need to get a 15-amp outlet. If it's 20, get a 20-amp outlet.

Replacing the Outlet

  1. Turn the breaker off to the outlets you will be replacing.
  2. Remove the cover on the outlet and place it aside for use later.
  3. Remove the two screws holding the outlet in the junction box.
  4. Pull the outlet out of the junction box with the black and white wires behind it.
  5. Cut the two wires off right next to the back of the outlet.
  6. Strip roughly a half inch of insulation from the ends of the white and black wires.
  7. Cut a piece of the green insulated wire as long as the wires coming out from the junction box.
  8. Strip a half inch of insulation from both ends of the green wire.
  9. Make a loop on one end of the green wire and secure it around the screw located on the back of the junction box.
  10. Make a loop on the other end of the green wire and secure it to the copper or green screw on the back of the new outlet.
  11. Push the bare end of the black wire into the hole in the back of the outlet that says "Black" or "Hot".
  12. Push the bare end of the white wire into the hole in the back of the outlet that says "White" or "Neutral".
  13. Push the wires into the junction box followed by the outlet.
  14. Secure the outlet to the junction box with the two screws.
  15. Place the cover on the outlet and secure with the screw in the center.

Problems You Might Encounter

There are a few problems that may come up when doing this project that require the services of an electrician to resolve:

  • The wires are not color-coded black and white.
  • There are more than two wires connected to the outlet.
  • The junction box does not have a ground screw on the back of the box.
  • The junction box is plastic, and there is no sign of a green ground wire in the box.

Let an electrician sort out these wiring issues so you'll have a safe outlet.