How to Repair an Electrical Outlet that Doesn't Work

a broken electrical outlet with burn damage
What You'll Need
Wire stripper
Electrical tape
Voltage tester

It is not a time consuming process to repair an electrical outlet. With a budget of a few dollars and a few tools you can get the job done. Sometimes vibrations loosen the outlets and by wear and tear the casing might crack. The small pieces of copper that can be found within the ‘slits’ of the outlet can begin to spread wider apart by rough treatment when inserting a plug quickly. Thus a faulty outlet might not be noticeable at first glance.

Unfortunately, several accidents and electrical fires occur as a result of lack of maintenance of electrical outlets. More often than not the best option is to replace the outlet with a new once and re-establish the wiring again, to join the new outlet. Plastic outlets can be bought form ironmongers at very low prices.

Step 1 – Turn Off the Power To the Outlet

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This step is simple and is performed as a precautionary measure. Thousands of people get electrocuted on a yearly basis due to lack of preparation and awareness of the potential danger posed when dealing with electrical components. Turn on the voltage tester and test each of the outlet’s terminals to make sure that no electricity is reaching the outlet. If you are dealing with a duplex outlet, be certain that both sockets are turned off as each could be fed from a different circuit.

Step 2 – Remove The Face Plate Of the Outlet

To remove the old outlet, use the screwdriver to unscrew the face plate and then carefully remove the outlet from the wall. For this step you should use the voltage tester again to check for the presence of current passing through the side terminal screws, thus making sure the circuit is dead.

Step 3 – Removing the Attachment Of Wires From the Old Outlet

Once again the screwdriver must be used to unscrew the wires from the points of attachment to the old outlet. Usually the “neutral” side has lighter colored screws while the “hot” side has darker colored screws, but double check this since some exceptions may occur. Once you have removed the wiring from the old outlet you can throw it away. Take a quick look at the wires and check for any burn marks or nicks. Make sure that the insulation of the wires is still intact. Cut the exposed wire, and then (using the wire stripper) remove about half an inch of the plastic insulation from the wire.

Step 4 – Attach the Wires To the New Outlet

Attach the wires to the equivalent position as to where they were in the old outlet. Colors may be deceiving as different regions have different color codes. For example the color coding of the neutral, live and earth wires vary from Europe to America. Thus it is of great importance to remember the relative associations of wire color to attachment sites before removing the wiring from the old outlet. After you have established the wiring, wrap electrical tape round the outlet to make sure that all terminals are insulated.

Step 5 – Screw the New Outlet Back In Place

Screw the outlet box into the wall, and then screw in the face plate. When using the voltage tester the voltage should read from 115 volts to 120 volts. However, this might not necessarily be the case as voltage magnitudes vary from one country to another.

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