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Replacing An Electrical Receptacle - Part 2

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The vast majority of home electrical receptacles fall into 5 installation categories. The style of the receptacle, standard, Figure 1 or decorator, Figure 2, does not change how it is installed:

  1. Duplex wall receptacle where both the upper and lower socket are connected together. By far the most common method of connection.
  2. Duplex wall receptacle where the upper and lower sockets are split and powered from separate breakers. This is very popular in kitchens to provide more power to countertop appliances.
  3. Duplex wall receptacle where one of the sockets is controlled by a wall switch. This is popular in living (great) rooms and bedrooms for turning on table and floor lamps via a wall switch.
  4. Single socket receptacles. These are common for electric ranges, laundry dryers, window and wall air conditioners and wall clocks.
  5. Outdoor Receptacles
  1. Duplex wall receptacle where the upper and lower sockets are wired to separate breakers.
double circuit breaker
Figure 2 - Double circuit breaker
  • Turn off power to receptacles at breaker panel. This should be a double breaker, as shown in Figure 2. Insure that power has been turned off to both sockets by plugging in a lamp or a device such as an electric drill in both sockets (one at a time is acceptable).
  • Turn off power to receptacles at breaker panel. This should be a double breaker. Insure that power has been turned off to both sockets by plugging in a lamp or a device such as an electric drill in both sockets (one at a time is acceptable).
  • Remove the cover plate, usually held in place with one screw in the center between the sockets. It should be noted that some manufacturers are now making screw-less cover plates which must be gently pried off with a screwdriver.
  • Remove the upper and lower screws that hold the receptacle
  • Pull forward on the receptacle until the receptacle has cleared the box and the wires are extended.
  • The receptacle will have the one of the following wiring configurations.
    1. One black wire on one of the brass terminal on the side of the receptacle, and a red wire on the the other brass terminal, one white wire on the silver terminal on the opposite side of the receptacle and a bare copper wire connected to a green screw which is integral to the receptacles mounting bracket, as shown in Figure 1. The two brass terminals will NOT be connected together, see Figures 3 & 4.
    Duplex wall receptacle where the upper and lower sockets are wired to separate breakers.
    Figure 1 - Duplex wall receptacle where the upper and lower sockets are wired to separate breakers.

      The most common installation would have only one duplex receptacle on the two circuits.

    1. Two black wires on the brass terminals (one on each terminal) on the side of the receptacle (outlet).
    2. Two white wires, on the opposite side of the receptacle, on the silver terminals (one on each terminal), (it is possible that only one white wire will be connected to the terminals - in this case there should be a group of white wires connected together with a wire nut in the electrical box and this single white wire connects to that group).

Continued...