How to Safely Replace an Electrical Socket

An electrical socket normally doesn't matter if there’s no escalating problem. And if you’re clueless about how it works behind your walls, you probably don't know how to fix an electrical socket safely when it's warping, damaging or failing.

Electrical power is one of the inventions that take our lifestyles to a whole new level. Whether in cooking, lighting, heating and cooling our homes, electricity is beneficial. But to efficiently use electrical power, there is a need to use electrical sockets or also known as receptacles.

Our main access point for electricity is through electrical sockets. It will be a disaster to power your home and other appliances if sockets are unavailable. With electrical sockets, you can plug any electrical device and enjoy the convenience. But since electrical outlets are one of the essential parts of a wiring system at home, it is very prone to damage.

A faulty socket can be a result of overuse or electrical faults – for example, electrical surges. Hence, if you have a defective plug, you’ll face a significant problem as you can no longer enjoy electrical power. The right thing to do when this happens is to replace your electrical sockets safely.

Steps to Safely Replace Your Socket at Home

Dealing with electricity without proper safety precautions can be risky. For your safety, follow these steps if you want to safely replace an electrical socket.

STEP 1. Gather All the Required Tools 

Electricity is inherently dangerous. Thus, it is essential to have the tools and materials that will help you deal with power safely. 

Tools needed:

  • Small Flat Head Screwdriver
  • Phillips Screwdriver
  • Wire Cutters
  • Non-Contact Voltage Tester or a Multimeter

STEP 2. Turn the Power Off 

In your electrical service panel, locate the circuit breaker of the damaged electrical socket that you’ll be replacing and the electricity to the room. Switch the breaker to the OFF position and place a piece of tape over the breaker to notify others that the breaker should not be switched back on. 

STEP 3. Test for Power

In the location of your damaged electrical socket, you should test first if there is no power running through the wires to avoid accidents. To be extra safe, use a non-contact voltage tester in checking. Then, insert the probe tip of the tester into each of the socket’s slots. The tester should indicate no voltage.

Reminder: Make sure your voltage tester has operating batteries and is functioning correctly by using it to test an outlet or switch to know it is activated or not. Some testers light up when they sense current; others emit an audible sound, some do both.

STEP 4. Opening the Electrical Socket

In opening the electrical socket, remove the centre screw on the socket faceplate. To remove the faceplate, use a flat head screwdriver or use the appropriate screwdrivers to remove the screws that hold it to the wall. 

Check again if there’s power. Insert the voltage tester probe into the spaces opposite the receptacle body, then touch all the wires inside the electrical panel using only the tester (not the hands). The tester should indicate no voltage.

 STEP 5. Examine the Wiring

Gently pull the electrical socket out of the wall or the box. Then, take note of how wires are attaching the plug. Your goal here is to recreate the same wiring connections on the new receptacle. In most instances, you can see three wire colours connecting to the socket. 

  • Hotwires are the black wires.
  • Neutral wires are the white or silver wires.
  • The ground wires are the bare copper or green wires. 

STEP 6. Removing Electrical Socket

Electrical sockets have two methods of connecting the wires: screw terminals on the sides of the outlets, or push-in “back-wire” slots in the back of the socket.

But some electricians assume that the connections to the screw terminal are more secure, so it’s better to avoid making connections to the back-wire. But if your old socket has back-wire links, one way of detaching wires is by inserting a small nail or flat screwdriver next to each wire into the release hole. 

The wire connection should be loosened and pulled free from the body of the socket. If your outlet has connections to a screw terminal, loosen the screws and remove the wire loops around it.

STEP 7. Connecting the New Socket

Strip first 1/2 inch (~1.5 cm) of insulation off the end of each wire then bend a U-shaped loop of the stripped portion of each wire. 

Secondly, attach the wires to the screw terminal of the socket by looping clockwise direction around the screw terminal on the receptacle, and tighten the screw firmly to secure the cable between the screw head and the outlet being careful not to catch the insulation between the screw and outlet. Always remember, do not connect more than one wire to a single terminal.

Using the method of attaching wires, connect the bare copper or green insulated circuit wire to the green screw terminal on the socket. For white neutral circuit wire, connect it to the silver-coloured screw terminal on the receptacle and the black (hot) wires to the brass-coloured screw terminals.

If the old receptacle is using back-wired, don’t use the back-wire fittings on the new receptacle unless they are the type that a screw can tighten. Instead, cut off the bare end of each wire, then using a wire stripper, strip about 3/4 inch of insulation from the wire. The wire should be bent into a U-shaped loop to attach to the side screw terminal.

STEP 8. Mount the Receptacle

Tuck the wires back into the box in the wall as you gently push the outlet and the connected wires. Secure and tighten the electrical socket using the socket screws until the face of the outlet is almost flush with the wall. Then re-install the faceplate onto the new receptacle.

STEP 9. Turn the Power On

Back to the electrical service panel, remove the tape covering the flipped circuit breaker. Restore the power by switching the breaker to the ON position. Then to finish the process, test the electrical socket using a Non-Contact Voltage Tester or Multimeter to confirm that the outlet is working correctly.


You can be an electrician on your own. Being knowledgeable enough on how to install a new electrical socket at home will make you save money. You can also assure the safety of your family and prevent a residential fire in the future. Thus, simply knowing the steps will help you provide an immediate solution to the electrical issue of your electrical socket.

For more information about replacing your electrical socket, installation and emergency electrical repairs, contact Sutherland Shire Electrician for honest and affordable electrical services to every homeowner and business owner in Sutherland Shire.

With the outstanding amount of dedication that each of our team members gives in every operation, your electrical issue is treated with high-quality service, fast and without delays.

Call us at (02) 8378 2825 for an appointment or inquire with us via email.

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