How to Wire Electrical Outlets Yourself Without an Electrician's Help
Installing electrical outlets yourself can seem daunting, but with proper preparation and by following safety precautions, it is quite doable for a homeowner. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to wire electrical outlets yourself without an electrician's help:
- Turn off the main circuit breaker before starting any electrical work. This ensures circuits you'll be working on have no live current flowing through them.
- Test wires with a voltage tester to confirm power is off. Better safe than sorry!
- Wear insulating gloves and eye protection. Electricity can arc across gaps and the last thing you want is a shock.
- Follow local building codes.Improper wiring can be hazardous, so ensure your work meets the regulations in your area.
What You'll Need
- Electrical outlets and cover plates - Match the amperage and number of ports on existing outlets.
- Screwdrivers - You'll need Phillips and slotted screwdrivers. Make sure they aren't worn out.
- Wire strippers - A must for stripping sheathing off wires.
- Voltage tester - To double check power is off before working.
- Electrical tape - For covering bare wire connections.
- Needle nose pliers - For bending and maneuvering wires in boxes.
- Cable stapler - To tack cables to studs if running new wire.
Replacing an Existing Outlet
Replacing an outlet is straightforward:
- Unscrew and remove the old outlet cover plate.
- Disconnect the wires one by one by unscrewing them from the outlet and capping them off with wire nuts to keep them separated.
- Unscrew the outlet from the electrical box and carefully extract it without tugging wires.
- Match the new outlet's hot, neutral and ground wires to the existing outlet's corresponding wires.
- Secure the outlet to the box, screw wires into their terminals, then screw on the cover plate.
Be sure to turn the circuit off, test for power, and cap unused wires!
Adding a New Outlet
Running a new outlet line is more involved but can be broken down into simple steps:
- Decide where you want the new outlet placed. Be mindful of obstacles like studs.
- Determine the power source you'll tap into for the outlet. This could be an existing outlet, light fixture, or the main electrical panel.
- For cables fished through walls, staple them to studs. Use protective conduit for exposed areas.
- The power source and new outlet must be on the same circuit.
- Run 14/2 cable between source and outlet if a 15 or 20 amp circuit. Use thicker 12/2 cable for 20+ amp circuits.
- Attach the neutral (white) wire to the silver screws, hot (black) to gold screws, and ground (green) to green screw.
- Secure the outlet into the electrical box using long screws through the mounting ears.
- Flip the circuit breaker back on and test the outlet. Did it work? If not, switch the circuit back off and check the wiring connections.
- Place the outlet cover plate and plug something in to celebrate!
The key is proper planning, safe procedures, and double checking connections. Take it slow and be cautious. While wiring outlets takes diligence, the rewards of adding outlets yourself are satisfying!