Electrical Receptacles In Your Home

The type of electrical receptacle that you may find in your home will depend upon its use. You may have several receptacles that should be replaced with newer or task-specific models.   

Here is a list of receptacles that you may encounter in daily use, and how to replace them for more useful models:

Two slot receptacle

This is the most common type of receptacle found in the home. It has two parallel slots and a round hole for a grounding pin. Many older homes may have fifteen amp outlets with only the two parallel slots. 

These should eventually be replaced, not only for the ability to use grounded tools and appliances but also for the additional safety that a grounding pin provides.

Changing a receptacle is relatively simple. You only need to turn off the circuit breaker that controls power to the receptacle. Plug something into the receptacle to ensure that the power is turned off when the breaker is flipped.

When you are certain that the power to the receptacle is off, remove the cover plate from the receptacle and then remove the receptacle from the wall by removing the screws that secure them.

You will then remove the wires from the side terminals with a screwdriver and attach them to a new grounded receptacle in the same fashion (black wire to gold terminal, white wire to silver terminal, and green or copper colored wire to green terminal).

Bathroom receptacles

Bathrooms and other potentially damp or wet areas must have GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) receptacles installed. These receptacles can detect fluctuations in current that may result in insufficient grounding, and will shut off power to the receptacle until a reset button is pressed.

If the condition that initiate the shutoff, such as water exposure or dampness, is still present, a GFCI outlet will shut off repeatedly until the danger has passed.

Installing a GFCI receptacle involves the same procedures as replacing a normal receptacle, but instead of wiring one side of a receptacle, the wires will be attached to the top "load" section of a GFCI model.

Attach the wires by the same color codes (black wire to gold terminal, white wire to silver terminal, and green or copper wire to the green terminal).

if the receptacle is in the middle of a circuit line, and there are two sets of three wires, attach the second set to the bottom "line" portion of the receptacle in the same manner. Receptacles connected to the "line" section of a GFCI receptacle will also be protected, so there is no need to replace them.

USB receptacle

You may also choose to replace some receptacles with models that feature USB ports between the two outlets. This will save valuable receptacle space when charging cell phones and tablets.

Installation of a USB receptacle is the same as that of a regular receptacle, but you will need a new cover plate. Prices vary, but more expensive models will be more powerful and provide faster charging.

For further assistance, contact a local electrical contracting company, such as Williams Electric Supply.