How to Avoid Problems When Replacing Electrical Outlets
I replaced some outlets and now circuit breakers are tripping off, what did I do wrong? Outlet Wiring Connections, Wiring Switch Controlled Outlets, Common Problems When Replacing Electrical Outlets and How to Fix Them.
Electrical Wiring Methods for Replacing Outlets
Electrical Question: I replaced some outlets and now circuit breakers are tripping off, what did I do wrong?
- I have 6 outlets in a room that I replaced. The bottom half of the outlets are wired separate from the top half.
- When I wired the light switch I noticed it had two black wires on the bottom screw and one white wire on the top screw.
- I turned the power on and the light came on. At first I did not touch the switch. Then I turned on the switch and the main breaker blew along with 3 other circuit breakers. What happened?
This electrical question came from: Royce, from Carlton, Minnesota.
Dave the Electrician’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Royce.
How to Replace Electrical Outlets
Application: Replacing a 120 Volt Receptacle Outlet.
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate. This electrical wiring project is best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools and a Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and the number of outlets that will be replaced.
Precaution: Identify the outlet circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Notice: Installing additional outlet wiring should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.
Electrical Wiring for Receptacle Outlets
- Outlet Wiring Connections
First make sure the circuits to this area are off, and then check all of the wiring and connections. Make sure that any bare ground wires do not come into contact with the side receptacle terminal screws.
- Wiring Switch Controlled Outlets
Because there is a switch that is wired with the wall outlets, then I am assuming that at least one of these outlets is a switched outlet. With that in mind I would ask you if you removed the bridge or tab that is found between the top and bottom outlet?
- Outlet Circuit Breaker
This question stated that the main and three other circuit breakers have tripped, so there is a very good chance that there is more than one circuit that is supplying power to this area and it is very possible that during the process of replacing the outlets that the connections have created a direct short between two circuits.
- Multi-Wire Outlet Circuit
Another possibility is that there is a multi-wire circuit that feeds this area and that the wall switch has been wired to the neutral wire which has created a direct short back to both lines of the multi-wire circuit, which would trip of two circuit breakers.
Common Problems When Replacing Electrical Outlets and How to Fix Them
- When replacing electrical outlets it is very important to identify the circuits that supply power to the outlet and area where you will be working.
- Make sure to replace the wire connection configuration the same way they were configured with the original outlet.
- If there is a switch that controls part of the outlet then the outlet must have the bridge or tab removed in the same manner as the original outlet.
More about Wiring Electric Outlets
The following may also be helpful for you:
Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.
The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.
Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..
The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.
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