How to Replace Two-Prong Outlets With GFCI Outlets

How to Replace Two-Prong Outlets With GFCI Outlets


Replacing outdated two-prong outlets with GFCI outlets is an important electrical upgrade that can protect against electric shocks and electrocution. GFCI, or ground fault circuit interrupter, outlets have a built-in safety feature that cuts off power when it detects any abnormal current flow. Upgrading to GFCI outlets adds an extra layer of protection, especially in areas where water may be present like bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and outdoors.

While a GFCI outlet replacement project is totally doable as a DIY homeowner project, working with household electrical wiring does carry risks. Be sure to follow all safety precautions and consider consulting a professional electrician if you have any doubts about your abilities.

In this comprehensive guide, I'll walk through the complete process of replacing two-prong outlets with GFCI outlets, including the supplies you'll need, step-by-step instructions, and important safety tips.

Supplies Needed

Before getting started, make sure you have the following supplies on hand:

Turning Off the Power

The first step is to turn off the power to the outlet you'll be replacing. Here's how to do this safely:

Working on an outlet that's live could result in severe electric shock, so always double check with a voltage tester. Never work on a hot outlet!

Removing the Old Outlet

With the power switched off, you can now safely remove the old two-prong outlet:

As you pull out the outlet, pay attention to how the wires are connected and oriented so you can recreate these connections later.

Pigtailing and Connecting New Outlet

Here's how to make the wiring connections for the new GFCI outlet:

DO NOT disconnect any wires from the existing outlet yet. The pigtailing technique allows you to make new connections without temporarily killing power to other outlets.

Installing the New GFCI Outlet

You're now ready to securely install the new GFCI outlet into the electrical box:

Restoring Power and Testing

You're almost done! Follow these final steps to complete the GFCI installation:

If the GFCI outlet is tripping and resetting properly, then it's wired safely and ready for use! Be sure to test GFCIs monthly.

Safety Tips

Replacing outlets comes with electrical risks, so safety should be your top priority.

If at any point you feel unsure or unsafe, stop work immediately and call a qualified electrician. Safety first!


Upgrading two-prong outlets to GFCI outlets is one of the best investments you can make for home electrical safety. While it requires working carefully with household wiring, it's an achievable DIY project for many homeowners. Follow proper precautions, take it step-by-step, and you'll gain essential electrical skills. Just be sure to always put safety first given the risks involved.