If for any reason you are not comfortable with electricity, do not fix this yourself but rather call a qualified electrician.
Very much like a wall switch, most receptacles have one screw that attaches the cover plate which you need to remove. First thing you’ll need to do, though, is to cut the power to the entire house by flipping the main breaker in your circuit panel off. If you have a voltage meter, it’s always a good idea to double check to make sure the power supply has been disabled.
Now, remove the screw that attaches the receptacle to the wall and pull it out to access the wires. Normally, you’ll have black wires on one side and white on the other.
On the back of the receptacle, it’s also marked which side is white and which is black so you won’t make a mistake. You also might have a copper wire attached to the bottom. That’s a ground wire that needs to be re-attached to the new plug-in as well.
Simply undo the screws that hold the wires in place and replace the receptacle, making sure you attached the wires to the new unit nice and tight and push the receptacle back into the wall. It’s important to make sure that none of the wires are touching anything other than the contacts on the receptacle, otherwise you could have a short circuit.
Reattach the unit with the cover and you’re all set.
Oh yeah. Don’t forget to turn the power to the house back on so you can try out your newly installed plug-ins.
Joel Wensley is a licensed mechanical contractor in the state of Michigan, a member of the Comfort Institute, and is also the president of Mechanical Heating & Cooling in Dearborn Heights.