How to Install a New Electrical Outlet in Your Home

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Written by TeamIdentity

Installing a new electrical outlet in your home is one of the easiest electrical repairs you can conduct.

Doing electrical repairs in one’s home can certainly seem like a daunting task. Installing or replacing an electrical outlet may sound like a lot, but it is an effortless and inexpensive job if you have the proper tools and knowledge.

However, it is essential to note that the process will be much more difficult if you do not have an already running circuit from the main service panel.

The advice we will give you today will show you a quick and easy method once the electrical box has already been installed and all electrical cables have been run in the wall cavities to connect the receptacle.

Preparation and Electrical Safety Considerations

Electrical work has inherent risks, so you should carefully follow safety precautions to minimize the potential danger:

  • Ensure that you turn off the power.
  • Test the outlet with a voltage tester.
  • Follow proper wiring.
  • Before you switch the power on, inspect the wiring once again.
  • Check to see if you have tightened all screws properly.

For the success of your DIY project, it is vital to understand how electrical outlets work. You can wire a household outlet receptacle in two ways based on its position in the circuit.

Two or three electrical wires will enter the box if it is located in the middle. One cable supplies power from the source, while the other carries it to other outlets or fixtures.

The best wiring method is to use pigtail wires attached to one set of hot and neutral screw terminals. This way, power continues to flow through the circuit even if there is an issue with some of the individual receptacles.

If the outlet is at the end of the circuit run, wiring is simplified as only one cable is in the box. As a result, both hot and neutral wires are secured to a single set of brass and screw terminal.

Electrical Tools You’ll Need

To install or replace an electrical outlet, you will need to have the following with you:

  • Voltage tester. To check that there is no power in the wires.
  • Screwdrivers. You will need a flat-head and a Phillips screwdriver.
  • Wire cutters. You need wire cutters to trim the ends and remove excess electrical wires.
  • Outlet tester.To test whether the outlet is wired correctly and is functioning properly.
  • Flashlight. Switching the power off requires a flashlight, especially if the outlet is dark.

While other electrical tools may come in handy, based on your project, those are all necessary to install a new outlet.

Installation Instructions

You can successfully install a new electrical outlet by following the steps below.

#1 Turn off the power

Locate your home’s fuse box. Turn off the circuit powering of the corresponding circuit breaker. If you are unsure which to switch off, you can flip them all off or shut down the main circuit breaker.

#2 Test the Electrical Outlet

Once flipped off, go to where you want to install your new electrical unit and use a non-contact voltage tester to test the outlet for power to confirm there is no power in it.

#3 Prepare the Electrical Cables

Electrical cables come through holes located in the outlet electrical box’s back. They are held by metal cables or pressure-fit clamps mounted in the box.

Electrical wires should not extend more than 6 or 7 inches into the outlet, as they may become unwieldy and difficult to stuff into the box.

If you find they are longer than recommended, shorten them by slitting the cable’s jacket with a ripper. Trim away the sheathing and paper insulation with wire cutters and then cut off the ends of the individual conducting wires.

#4 Strip the Electrical Wires

To successfully install a new electrical outlet in your home, you must have between ½ and ¾ of an inch from the electrical wires stripped. Ensure you do not remove too much of the plastic insulation, as that can expose bare wire under the connector’s cap.

#5 Attach Pigtail Wires to the Wires

If there is more than one cable in the box, you should install pigtail wires. Strip each end of the pigtail at ½ inch and the other end at ¾ inch. Connect the shorter end to the circuit wires with a connector, while the longer one will be bent into a hook shape and screwed on the receptacle.

To have one ground, one white (neutral) and one black (hot) pigtail connected to the circuit wires, join them using a wire connector per the manufacturer’s instructions.

#6 Connect Ground, Neutral, and Hot Wires to Receptacle

On each end of the pigtail, form a J-shaped hook. You can do this either by hand or using needle-nose pliers.

Start with the ground wire. Connect it to the receptacle by fitting the hooked end to the ground screw. After that, do the same with the neutral and hot wires in the same fashion. The white pigtail should connect to one of the silver screw terminals, while the black one to one of the brass.

When hooking the wires, ensure it is in a clockwise fashion. Doing this, when you tighten the screw, the hook will close, making it more secure.

#7 Attach Receptacle to the Box

Check that all wiring connections are secure. If some seem loose to you, reconnect and retighten them. Tuck the remaining wires in the box.

Press the receptacle’s metal strip at the top and bottom against the box and secure it by threading the mounting screws in both locations.

When placing the receptacle, it is safer to have the ground slot on top and the neutral and hot ones at the bottom.

In this case, if a cord plug is partially pulled out of the outlet, the grounding prong will block any objects that may fall into it. This will protect you from short circuits, as nothing will touch the hot and neutral prongs.

#8 Attach Cover Plate

Place the cover plate over the outlet and secure it with the mounting screw. Switch ON the circuit breaker to restore the power and test if the outlet is working. You can do that by either plugin an electrical device or a receptacle tester.

Call an Electrician to Help

If you are inexperienced in electrical work and have not done any home wiring projects before, it may be a good idea to seek the help of an electrician.

They will not only be able to connect the new outlet but will test the wiring and, if needed, will be able to extend any old circuits.

You can do it

Installing a new electrical outlet in your home is one of the easiest electrical repairs you can conduct.

However, it is important to remember that it can still be dangerous for you if you are not confident in what you are doing.

A certified electrician will be able to provide the necessary electrical services while giving you pointers for when you feel ready to do your own project.

Photo by Clint Patterson on Unsplash

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