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Outlet Eyesores

cartoon of man getting electric shock

Did you ever wonder what it would take to get rid of the brown, dirty electrical outlets that get so much use in your house and replace them with something that looks nice?  It can be done in just one afternoon with a couple of screwdrivers and a boxful of nice electrical outlets. 

red torch

Count the outlet covers and light switches you want to change. It could be the whole house or just a room or two. Keep track of those outlets that have just two places for cords and those that are more unusual, such as those that have two outlets next to a light switch. 

Go to the hardware store with the list and make sure you buy the plates and the outlets themselves. Make sure everything matches. White or colored plates look nice and often match the paint background.

Have a flathead and Phillip’s screwdriver ready along with your bag of new equipment. 

If it’s at all dark, have a flashlight. If you’re positive you can isolate out certain areas of your house with the circuit breaker, go ahead and turn off the selected circuits but make sure you test the outlets by plugging something in before you get started. 

If you’re not sure, turn off the entire house so you know you won’t get too close to live electricity. 

  • Unscrew the old plate with a flathead screwdriver and remove the outlet by unscrewing the screw that holds it in the electrical box. Pull it away from the wall, keeping track of the two or three wires connected to it. 


  • Unscrew the wires from the old outlet, keeping the top one above the bottom one and noting if there is a green grounding wire. Use steel wool if the wires are tarnished. 


  • The wires should have a C-shape because they’ve been wrapped around the post on the back or side of the outlet. 


  • Now, take the new outlet and determine which way is the same orientation as the old outlet. Very tightly screw on the wires where they belong on the new outlet. 


  • If you keep your configuration the same as the old one, you should have no trouble. Make sure the wires are completely unable to be pulled off. Finally, screw the outlet onto the electric box.


  • Finish off the outlet by screwing on the old electrical plates. Do this throughout the home or area and you’ll instantly see a nice finished look with new outlets for added safety. 

IMPORTANT - Different rules may apply in various countries please ensure you check before undertaking any electrical work. 

If in any doubt please consult a qualified electrician.

Please remember in the UK when attempting any electrical installations and some minor electrical work, at home that you are obliged to get the completed job tested by a fully qualified electrician and obtain a minor works certificate. Failure to do this may render your house insurance invalid and you may have difficulty selling your home.   

June Jackson (Hints and Things)





Originally contributed by localcontractorbids.com but it would appear this site is no longer online.

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