How to Install an Electrical Outlet

DIY Electrical: How to Install an Electrical Outlet

I installed new windows in my house – three left to go and I will have ALL NEW windows!! When I finished, I noticed that the lower portion of the outlet under one of the windows was not working. It was a fire waiting to happen so I replaced it right away! Follow along as I share how to install an electrical outlet…

how to install electrical outlet


First and foremost, use all safety precautions and turn off the power to the outlet at the breaker. When in doubt, consult a professional!

Remove the old outlet and box, if necessary. My outlets were the type where the box, outlet, and cover are all one piece. While these are very handy, I really like the rectangular shaped outlets and have been slowly replacing them around the house.

how to install electrical outlet old outlet

how to install electrical outlet old one piece outlet outside of hole

I had to cut the opening larger for the box to fit into as the box on the one-piece outlets was quite a bit smaller. I carefully cut the drywall out using a box cutter so that the new box would fit.

 how to install electrical outlet cut larger opening for new box

If replacing the box, there are little openings in the back that need to be pushed forward. These act as a stress-relief for the wiring to keep it from being pulled out of the outlets. Wrestle Push the wire through the openings, then secure the box in the wall. (There are screws with little “wings” on them that sandwich the drywall to keep the box in place.) I broke the lower part of the drywall doing this which will end up being something else for me to fix!

 how to install electrical outlet new box installed in wall

Carefully trim the casing away from the wiring. The casing is the plastic covering that houses the three wires (not each individual wire). The wires need to be free so they can be wrapped around the corresponding terminal (screw). Using the wire strippers, strip the casing away from each individual wire so that approximately 5/8″ of the bare wire is exposed.

Outlets come in all shapes and sizes. All of them have terminals on the sides to loop the wire around, and some also have a small hole in the back where the wire can be directly plugged in. The outlet I was using was also labeled – “white” and “hot”~ these wires should never touch ~ with a green terminal for the green or bare copper wire (the ground). Since I was dealing with three sets of wires, I plugged one set in the back, then looped the other set over the corresponding terminals. The three ground wires were looped over the ground terminal. All of the wiring should be firmly secured so it doesn’t slip off and create a hazard.

 how to install electrical outlet back of new outlet with terminals labeled

Wrestle Arrange the wiring in the box, then secure the outlet using the attached screws. Install the cover and turn the power back on.

 how to install electrical outlet broken drywall after installing outlet

For more information on how to install an electrical outlet, I highly recommend this book: Wiring 1-2-3 from The Home Depot. It is clearly written with lots of photos. I purchased this book a couple of years ago when I remodeled my kitchen and it has been my go-to resource for anything electrical! If in doubt, always consult a professional!!

 how to install electrical outlet wiring 123 book from Home Depot

Have questions on how to install and electrical outlet? Leave a comment below!

Disclaimer:  I was not compensated nor asked to mention The Home Depot or the Wiring 1-2-3 book. This book is my personal reference and I really do use it – just thought I’d share the info!

Originally posted 2013-11-12 08:00:55.


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