How to Replace Electrical Outlets and Switches Yourself


Replacing worn out or outdated electrical outlets and switches is an easy do-it-yourself home improvement project. With some basic tools and safety precautions, you can upgrade the look and functionality of your electrical system.

Reasons to Replace Outlets and Switches

There are several reasons why you may need to replace electrical outlets and switches:

Electrical Safety Precautions

Working with electrical wiring can be dangerous. Take these precautions:

How to Replace an Electrical Outlet

Replacing an outlet is a straightforward process once you turn off the power. Follow these key steps:

1. Turn off electricity and confirm it's off

Turn off the breaker controlling the outlet. Verify power is off by testing with a contact voltage tester. Ensure electricity is off throughout the entire process for safety.

2. Remove cover plate screws

Use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the two cover plate screws holding the outlet in place. Pull the outlet from the electrical box but leave wires connected.

3. Disconnect and remove old outlet

Loosen each screw terminal and remove wires one by one. Take note of wire positions using colored tape. Remove the old outlet and pull wires out of the box.

4. Prepare new outlet and connect wires

Strip 3/4" insulation from wire ends. Wrap wires clockwise around new outlet screw terminals in the same positions as old outlet. Tighten terminal screws securely.

5. Mount new outlet in box

Push wires back into box and mount new outlet flush to wall surface. Screw on the cover plate. Carefully restore power and test with a voltage meter.

Replacing Light Switches

Replacing a standard single pole switch is a very similar process:

1. Turn off electricity and confirm it's off

Locate switch breaker, turn off power, and verify with a voltage tester. Take down any light fixtures.

2. Remove switch plate and mounting screws

Unscrew switch plate and mounting screws holding the switch in place. Carefully pull switch from box without touching wires.

3. Disconnect wires and remove switch

Make note of the screw terminal wire positions. Loosen screws and disconnect wires one at a time. Remove old switch.

4. Connect wires to new switch

Connect new switch wires to same screw terminals as old switch. Wrap clockwise around screws and tighten. Double check connections.

5. Mount new switch and install plate

Carefully tuck wires into box and mount new switch flush. Attach switch plate cover. Turn power back on and test switch.

Helpful Tips


With proper safety precautions, the right tools, and by following the correct steps, you can successfully replace electrical outlets and switches in your home. Take your time, be cautious of wires, turn power off completely, and call an electrician for any uncertainties. New outlets and switches will upgrade safety, aesthetics and functionality.