How To Replace Ungrounded Outlets In An Older Home

If you've moved into an older home, you will likely have older electrical outlets that have only two slots in the receptacles and lack the opening for a round grounding prong. While these types of outlets may suffice for lower powered appliances such as table lamps, they are insufficient for many appliances, including the ever-more necessary power strip.

Fortunately, it's very simple and inexpensive to replace your old outlets with those with receptacles that welcome grounding prongs. You will need very little mechanical ability and only a few common hand tools.

You will need to overcome the intimidation factor in working with electrical components. However, electrical work is safe to perform as long as you follow basic safety protocols.

What you will need to replace your old outlets

The outlets

You will need 15 amp outlets, which have the familiar two parallel slots and a round each receptacle.

Flat head and Philips head screwdrivers

Preparing to remove an old outlet

The first step in any electrical work is the most important component of the task. This involves cutting the flow of electricity to the area in which you will be performing the work. You will do this by turning off the circuit breaker that regulates the flow of power to the area.

The inner panel of your breaker box door should have a chart that indicates the area of the home that is controlled by each individual breaker. However, the chart may not be accurate, so you can use it as a guideline, but not as a certainty. Your life and health depend upon choosing the correct breaker.

Don't worry. The situation is not as dire as it sounds. Just plug a working appliance into the outlet and turn it on. Choose the breaker indicated by the chart and turn it off. If the appliance also turns off, the chart is correct, if not, try each breaker until the appliance shuts off.

Removing the outlet

When the power is shut off, you will use the flat head screwdriver to remove the cover plate that conceals and protects the outlet. You will then switch to the Philips head screwdriver to loosen the two screws that hold the outlet in place inside the gang box in the wall, then pull the outlet from the wall.

You will see either one or two sets of three wires connected to the sides and top of the outlet. Disconnect them by turning the terminal screws in a counterclockwise direction and pulling the wires from the screw terminals. Keep the wires separated after disconnecting them.

Installing the grounded outlet

You will begin by connecting the wires. If one set of three wires were connected to the old outlet, you will loop the black wire in a clockwise direction around the top brass colored terminal screw and tighten it securely.

Loop the white wire under the top silver screw and the green wire under the green screw at the top of the outlet and tighten those screws in the same manner.

If a second set of three wires is present, you will connect the second black wire the the bottom brass terminal, the second white wire to the bottom silver terminal, and the green wire to the green ground terminal. You will need to loosen the green terminal again to add the second ground wire.

Next, push the outlet into the gang box in the wall, and tighten the two securing screws. Switch back to the flat screwdriver to restore the cover plate.

Turn on the breaker and the task is complete. If this isn't a process you're comfortable doing yourself, reach out to a professional at a place like Conway Electric