Upgrading the electrical wiring in your home can seem like an intimidating task, but it doesn't have to be! With some basic knowledge, the right materials, and a trusty screwdriver, I can upgrade my outlets to handle more amps in no time. This will allow me to plug in more high-powered appliances without tripping breakers or overloading circuits.
Gathering the Right Materials
Before I start this project, I need to make sure I have all the right materials on hand. Here is what I will need:
- Screwdriver - A basic screwdriver with interchangeable heads works best. I will need both a Phillips and flat head.
- Wire strippers - To strip the insulation off the new copper wires.
- Voltage tester - To make sure the power is off before working. Safety first!
- Higher gauge wire - I will be upgrading from 15 amp to 20 amp outlets, so I need 12 gauge copper wire.
- Wire nuts - To connect the new 20 amp wire to the existing 15 amp wire.
- 20 amp outlets - To replace the existing 15 amp outlets.
Turning Off the Power
Before doing any electrical work, I need to shut off the power to the circuit I am working on.
- I will go to the breaker box and switch the correct breaker to the off position.
- I will then use my voltage tester to confirm that the power is off at the outlet I am replacing.
- For safety, I will put a piece of tape over the breaker switch so no one accidentally turns it on while I work.
With the power off, I can now start the rewiring process safely.
Removing the Existing Outlet
I will first need to remove the existing 15 amp outlet from the electrical box:
- I will unscrew and remove the cover plate using my screwdriver.
- Next, I will unscrew the two screws holding the outlet in place and carefully pull it out.
- I will unhook the existing wires from the outlet. I will need to remember where each wire was connected.
- If there are any wires capped off and tucked into the box, I will leave those as-is.
With the old outlet removed, I am ready to install the new 20 amp replacement.
Installing the New 20 Amp Outlet
Installing the new 20 amp outlet involves connecting the wires properly:
- I will connect the neutral (white) wires to the silver screw terminal on the outlet. These may be daisy chained with a wire nut in the box already.
- The hot (black) wires get connected to the gold brass screw terminal.
- The ground (copper) wire gets connected to the green screw terminal.
- I will mimic the same wiring setup as the old outlet.
- I will tidy the wires into the box and secure the outlet with the long screws.
- Lastly, I will screw the cover plate back on over the outlet.
With the outlet wired up, it's time to restore power and test it.
Turning Power Back On and Testing
The final steps are to turn the power back on and make sure the outlet is functioning properly:
- I will go back to the breaker box and switch the breaker back to the on position.
- Using my voltage tester, I will verify power is running to the new 20 amp outlet.
- I will plug in an appliance and test that it works, such as a hair dryer or toaster oven.
- If it works properly without tripping the breaker, my upgrade is complete!
- Finally, I will remove the warning tape from the correct breaker switch.
Upgrading my outlets took some basic electrical knowledge but was ultimately simple with just a screwdriver. Now I can utilize the outlets to their full potential without overload concerns. Handling small electrical projects safely is very rewarding!