How to Rewire Your Outlets and Switch Plates for Increased Safety, But Nobody Will Tell You

Improperly wired outlets and switches can be a serious safety hazard. As a homeowner, it's important to understand the basics of rewiring outlets and switches to protect your home and family. With some simple precautions and the right materials, you can do it yourself.

Why Rewiring Outlets and Switches is Important

Outlets and switches that are worn out or improperly wired can lead to fires, shocks, and other dangers. Here are some of the main reasons you may need to rewire:

Faulty, Loose, or Damaged Wiring

Old wiring can become brittle and crack over time, exposing live wires. Loose connections can cause arcing and sparks. Damaged wires are a shock or fire hazard. Rewiring ensures all connections are tight and insulating covers are intact.

No Ground Connection

Two-prong ungrounded outlets are outdated and dangerous. Rewiring to add a ground wire reduces the risk of shocks and allows GFCIs to work properly.

Overloaded Circuits

Adding more electronics and appliances over the years can overload circuits. Rewiring to balance loads across circuits prevents tripping breakers and overheating wires.

Old Outlets and Switches

Outdated outlets may not adequately grip plugs, leading to shock or fire hazards. Old switches can fail over time. Replacing them improves safety and reliability.

How to Prepare for a Rewiring Project

Rewiring outlets and switches yourself requires preparation to ensure success and safety.

Turn Off Power at the Breaker

Turn off the circuit breaker for any outlet or switch you'll be working on. Verify power is off by plugging in a lamp and switching it on.

Buy the Right Materials

Have new outlets, switches, wire connectors, and electrical tape ready before starting work. Make sure all parts are rated for the amperage on the circuit.

Allow Enough Time

Rewiring outlets and switches takes time, especially for beginners. Make sure you have a few hours set aside so you don't feel rushed.

Follow Safety Precautions

Work carefully to avoid shocks and shorts. Wear safety goggles and avoid working alone so someone can call for help if needed.

How to Replace an Electrical Outlet or Switch

When rewiring outlets and switches, follow these key steps:

1. Turn Off the Power

Turn off the circuit breaker controlling the outlet and verify power is off before starting work.

2. Remove the Old Outlet/Switch

Unscrew the outlet/switch and disconnect all wires. Be careful not to let wires fall into the electrical box.

3. Prepare the Wires

Strip about 1/2" of insulation from wire ends. Make sure they are straight and free of corrosion.

4. Connect New Outlet/Switch

Refer to diagrams on the new part and connect all wires securely with twist-on connectors.

5. Mount New Outlet/Switch

Carefully tuck wires into the electrical box and mount the outlet or switch. Install a new wall plate.

6. Turn Power Back On

Turn the circuit breaker back on. Test that the outlet or switch works correctly using a lamp or voltmeter.

Safety Tips for DIY Electrical Work

It's crucial to exercise caution when rewiring. Here are some extra safety tips:

Replacing old outlets and switches goes a long way in protecting your home and family from electrical hazards. With proper materials and safety precautions, you can do it yourself and save on electrician costs. But don't hesitate to call a pro for big jobs or if you don't feel comfortable working with electrical wiring. Safety should always come first.