How to Fix Faulty Outlets and Switches Without Calling an Electrician

Having issues with switches or outlets that don't work properly can be annoying and potentially dangerous. Luckily, many electrical problems can be fixed without calling an electrician, as long as you follow safety precautions. Here is a guide on how I troubleshoot and repair faulty outlets and switches in my home.

Safety First

Common Electrical Issues

Here are some of the most frequent problems I encounter with outlets and switches:

Loose Connections

Faulty Outlets

Bad Switches

No Ground Connection

How to Repair an Outlet

Repairing an outlet is a common DIY electrical project. Here are the steps I follow:

  1. Turn off power at the main breaker. Verify it's off with a voltage tester.
  2. Remove the outlet cover plate.
  3. Unscrew and remove the outlet from the electrical box.
  4. Disconnect the wires one at a time using needle-nose pliers. Take note of each wire's location.
  5. Clean contacts with emery cloth if corroded.
  6. Install a new outlet and reconnect wires to the same terminals. White to silver, black to brass, bare copper to green ground.
  7. Screw the outlet back into the box and remount the cover plate.
  8. Turn power back on and test with a circuit tester. Consider GFCI outlets for protection.

Safety reminder - Always be sure the power is OFF before disconnecting any wires.

Replacing a Light Switch

Switches wear out over time. Here are the steps I follow to install a new light switch:

  1. Turn off power to the switch at the breaker. Verify with a voltage tester.
  2. Remove switch cover plate.
  3. Unscrew and remove the old switch from the box.
  4. Take note of the wire connections. There may be 2 or 3 wires.
  5. Disconnect the wires one at a time with needle-nose pliers.
  6. Install a new switch with the same number of posts. Reconnect each wire to the corresponding post.
  7. Screw the switch back into the electrical box and remount the cover plate.
  8. Turn power back on at the breaker. Test the switch to confirm normal operation.

The key is paying close attention to the existing wiring configuration before disconnecting anything.

When to Call an Electrician

While many basic electrical issues can be addressed without an electrician, there are times to call a professional:

Electrical work can be dangerous. I make smart decisions on when to DIY and when hiring a pro is the best choice. A little money spent can prevent electrocution hazards.


With the right safety precautions, many minor electrical issues like faulty outlets and switches can be addressed without an electrician. However, know your limits. More complex electrical work should be left to the professionals. Taking the time to troubleshoot problems and doing repairs correctly will keep your electrical system running safely.