How to Replace Kitchen Outlets and Avoid a Direct Short
When Replacing Outlets and There are Two Circuits be Sure to Make This Important Adjustment to Avoid Tripping the Circuit Breaker.
Replacing 120 volt Outlets
Electrical Question: I have 4 standard 120V 15A outlet plugs in my kitchen that I recently wanted to replace.
- So I went to Home Depot and bought some new plugs and installed them.
- When I turned on the breaker switch, I saw a spark behind the breaker and it flipped back to the off position.
- I consulted with an electrician and he asked me if I had broken off the tabs on the “hot” side of the outlets. I didn’t.
- So I went back and sure enough the old plugs were missing the tabs. I removed the tabs on the new outlets and now everything works fine.
- My question is why did this happen and have I done any damage to the breaker or the new outlets that I should be concerned about?
Thanks in advance,
This electrical question came from: Chris, from Winnipeg, Canada.
Thanks for your electrical question Chris.
When there are Two Circuits be Sure to Make This Important Adjustment
Application: Replacing a 120 Volt Receptacle Outlet.
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate – Best if wired 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.
Two Electric Circuits and Outlet Tabs
- Typically there are two circuits that provide power for kitchen counter top outlets.
- One wiring method is to have one circuit supply power to the top outlet, and the other circuit provides power to the bottom outlet.
- When this method is used the outlet tab on the hot or brass side must be removed to avoid a direct short between the two circuits.
- Typically a direct short circuit does not damage a circuit breaker, and inspecting the outlet and electrical wiring inside the junction box will reveal if these components sustained any damage that will required repairs or replacement.
Before replacing outlets make sure to identify the circuits and turn off the power.
More about Electrical Wiring
Wiring Electrical Outlets for the Home
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.
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.
Kitchen Electrical Wiring
Fully Explained Photos and Wiring Diagrams for Kitchen Electrical Wiring with Code Requirements for most new or remodel projects.
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 Wiring!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, [amazon.com], I use for the detection of Standard 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.
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