How to Replace a Broken Outdoor Electrical Outlet
Having an outdoor electrical outlet that doesn't work can be very inconvenient. Being able to plug in lights, tools, appliances, and other devices outdoors is often necessary for outdoor living and landscaping projects. Replacing a broken outdoor outlet is usually a straightforward do-it-yourself project that I can tackle in an afternoon. Here is a step-by-step guide on how I can replace a broken outdoor electrical outlet:
Gather the Necessary Materials
Before starting any electrical project, it's important that I have all the right materials on hand. Here is what I'll need to replace an outdoor electrical outlet:
New exterior outlet cover and box: Outdoor outlets need to be rated for exterior use and weatherproof. I'll need to purchase a new outlet box and cover plate made specifically for outdoor installation. Match the voltage (120V) and number of receptacle slots of the old outlet.
Wire strippers: I'll need wire strippers to strip the ends of the electrical wires to make clean connections.
Needle nose pliers: Helpful for loosening screws on the outlet and manipulating wires.
Voltage tester: An AC voltage tester is essential for safely checking that the power is off before working on the outlet.
Phillips screwdriver: To remove the outlet cover plate and outlet mounting screws.
Turn Off the Power
Before doing any work, I'll first go to my electrical panel and turn off the circuit breaker powering the outdoor outlet. I should turn off the main breaker if I'm unsure which one powers the outlet. Verify the power is off by plugging in a voltage tester or outlet tester and making sure there is no indication of live current. Working on an outlet with the power still on could result in a serious shock!
Remove the Old Outlet
With the power verified off, I can start removing the old, non-working outdoor outlet:
Unscrew the cover plate: Use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the screws holding the outlet cover plate in place. Remove the cover plate.
Unscrew the outlet: Unscrew the two screws anchoring the outlet to the electrical box. Carefully pull the outlet out from the box.
Disconnect the wires: There will be Hot, Neutral, and Ground wires connected to the outlet. Carefully note where each wire was connected. Use needle nose pliers to loosen each wire one at a time and disconnect them.
Install the New Outlet
With the old outlet disconnected, I can now wire up and install the new replacement outlet:
Connect the wires: Using the needle nose pliers, connect each wire to the matching terminal on the new outlet. Connect the Ground, Neutral, and Hot wires according to the diagram on the outlet. Follow the wiring diagram exactly. Incorrect wiring can lead to fires or electrocution!
Secure the outlet: With all the wires securely connected, push the outlet back into the electrical box. Screw in the two long screws that go through the outlet ears to anchor it firmly to the box.
Weatherproof: If the outlet is a weatherproof model, make sure to insert any gaskets or seals around the outlet edges to prevent moisture from getting in.
Replace the cover plate: Screw the outlet cover plate back on securely over the outlet. Make sure the cover plate sits flush against the wall.
Restore Power and Test
With the new outlet fully installed, I can now go back to the electrical panel and switch the circuit breaker back on to restore power.
To make sure it is working correctly:
- Plug a small lamp or other appliance into the outlet and verify it powers on.
- Use a voltage tester to make sure the Hot and Neutral terminals show the correct voltage.
- If there are any issues, double check the wiring and connections.
Taking basic safety precautions and following these steps carefully, I can now enjoy having a fully functional outdoor electrical outlet again! Paying close attention to electrical codes and diagrams prevents hazards. For any large electrical projects, consider consulting with a licensed electrician.