Creative Outlet

Happy Monday! Hope you had a fantabulous weekend!

One of our biggest peeves when we moved into the Little House and got to work was the electrical outlets. Rather than trim around or tape over the outlets in the house, each and every one was painted over, faceplate and all. This is bad on two levels; first, we think that the painted outlets look tacky, as if you were just too lazy to bother with them. Secondly, it’s dangerous! Painting an outlet increases the chance of electrical fires and potentially electrical shock (says my Electrical Engineer husband).

That’s why we’re replacing each and every outlet in the Little House. Every time we paint a new room, we go ahead and replace the outlets and faceplates. It not only make the Little House safer, but gives the newly painted rooms a cleaner, finished look (at least we think so)!

We bought all new outlets and wall plates from Home Depot. They’re incredibly inexpensive! We have five outlets in our bedroom (great for an older home), so we were able to do this entire project for $7.30 before tax.

Installing the outlets couldn’t be simpler. The first (and most important) step is to TURN OFF THE POWER! Because the LH is older (with lots of added breakers and whatnot) we always turn off the main power to the house, not just the breaker for the bedroom. Yes, we lose a few degrees of air conditioning to the 100 degree Texas heat, but we’d rather be warm than electrocuted. Just personal preference. And just to be extra certain, we test each outlet before removing it to ensure that there is, in fact, no power going to it.

The next step is to remove the existing outlet from the wall. Typically, there will be two screws (one at the top and one at the bottom) holding the outlet in. Simply remove those screws and you’ll be able to pull the outlet out (it’ll still be connected to the wall via wires).

Once you’ve pulled it out, you’ll see that the wires are connected to the outlet via small gold screws.  You should be able to loosen the screws and remove the wires. If your home is older (like ours) you’ll probably only have two wires. If, however, your home is newer, you may have a third wire going to another screw. This is your ground wire. Go ahead and remove it, too.

Now that you’ve removed the old outlet, you can install the new one. Hook the wires around the screws on the side of the new outlet. If you have a ground wire, go ahead and attach it around the small green screw at the bottom. Tighten all of the connector screws against the wires for a good connection.

Once your outlet is completely connected, you can place it back in the wall (you might have to squish the wires back into the junction box in the wall to get it to fit back). Screw the outlet back into the wall, checking to make sure the outlet is level before you tighten the screws.

Finally, install new your new faceplate over the outlet. Be careful not to tighten the screw too tight or you could crack the faceplate (we might know from experience). Oh, and don’t forget to turn the power back on!

By now, we’ve changed out almost every outlet in the house (only the guest room to go!) and have the process down pat. It took us less than 45 minutes to change all five outlets and the light switch in our bedroom (light switches work exactly the same as outlets, should you need to change one of those).

I have to say that we are in no way professionals and these steps are only suggestions based on how we change our outlets. If in doubt when messing with anything electrical, call in a professional!

How was your weekend? What were your biggest peeves when moving into your place? Have you ever changed out the outlets in your house or do you call in the pros for all your electrical needs? Doesn’t Kev look dapper in his cutoff high school football t-shirt?


9 thoughts on “Creative Outlet

  1. We only change our outlet plates when we repaint in our apartment. Since we don’t own, it doesn’t make sense to pay for everything, but I can’t handle looking at painter’s white plates. It makes everything look so dirty!

  2. Thanks for this tutorial! I’ve changed a lot of the face plates in our house, but not the outlets (I thought it would be too difficult). So in some rooms we have beige outlets with white face plates. UGLY. Now I think I might try this…

  3. Whaaaa? No lecture from the electrical engineer about the importance of a ground wire (or the importance of using an ungrounded outlet in locations where a ground can not be provided)?

    • Had the EE husband written this I’m sure there would be plenty on how it should be wired. However, since I wrote it (and am just a lowly Mechanical engineer scared to death of all things electrical) you were spared that lecture. 🙂

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