How to Replace Electric Outlets
Richard in Erie Pennsylvania asks: How to Chose and Install the Right Electrical Outlet: How should I update all my outlets to three prong grounded receptacle outlets?
Guide to Replacing Electrical Outlets
Electrical Question: How should I update all my outlets to three prong grounded receptacle outlets?
- My house was built in the mid 1950’s and is wired with Type NM copper 14/2 cable with a ground wire.
- The bare ground wire is a little smaller gauge than the hot and neutral wires and appears to be 16 gauge.
- All the outlets in the house are 2 prong polarized duplex outlets without a third U-ground socket.
- The #16 ground wire is just connected to the metal boxes.
- I would like to update all my outlets to 3 prong duplex receptacles using the existing house wiring by connecting the green screw to the box and the #16 ground wire, but I wonder if this is safe or permitted, since today all conductors in type NM 14/2 with ground cable are 14 gauge, including the ground wire.
- By the way, all these branch circuits in the house are on 15 amp circuit breakers.
This home electrical repairs question came from: Richard, from Erie, Pennsylvania.
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Richard.
How to Chose and Install the Right Electrical Outlet
- Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate, best performed by a licensed electrician.
- 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: Always replace outlets with the same voltage and amperage rating and never install an grounded outlet if the circuit does not have a ground wire provided.
Installing 120 Volt Receptacle Outlets
Installing the Right Type of 120 Volt Receptacle When Replacing Electric Outlets
- Example of Replacing Electric Outlets
- If the circuit wiring has a ground wire then the replacement receptacles may be the grounded type.
- The original electrical wiring in some older homes did have a smaller ground wire which was sufficient however the ground wire of the newer 15 and 20 amp 120 volt circuit cables are the same wire gauge as the insulated wires.
- As long as the older ground wire has not been damaged and may be tested or verified as functional then the older ground wire may be attached to the new replacement outlets that have a ground terminal.
- If the original ground wire is bonded with a ground screw to a single metal outlet box then you may install an additional grounding screw with a new ground wire to attach to the outlet, or fasten the original ground wire directly to the new replacement outlet.
- Make sure the new receptacle outlets are the same voltage and amperage as the original outlets and the circuit rating.
More about Wiring Outlets
Wiring Electric Wall Outlets and Receptacles
- Home electrical wiring includes 110 volt outlets and 220 volt outlets and receptacles which are common place in every home. See how wiring electrical outlets for the home are done.
Electrical Grounding Methods and Requirements for Outlets
- Listing of electrical codes for grounding with examples of electrical grounding codes for home electrical wiring.
Electrical Circuit Wiring
- This article looks at common 120 volt and 240 volt house wiring circuits and the circuit breakers that are installed identifying the types and amperage sizes used in most homes.
Home Electrical Circuit Breakers
- A guide to home electrical circuit breakers and how they work to protect your electrical wiring. When properly installed, your home electrical wiring is protected by a circuit protection device.
Electrical Wire for the Home
- Complete listing of electrical wire types and parts used for home projects with electrical code information serves as selection guidelines.
The following may also be helpful for you:
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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