How do I replace an outlet?

Hello everyone,
Just received 2 PorterPorts and want to replace my electrical outlets. Can someone point me to a web link or give me directions on how to do this? I was told it's fairly easy to do so I want to give it a try.

You can easily electrocute yourself with home electricity, so if you have any doubts about what you are doing, hire a pro.

With that caveat, the first thing to do is make sure the outlet you are swapping out is OFF AT THE CIRCUIT BREAKER. Plug a lamp into it so the lamp is on, and flip circuit breakers until it turns off. Double check your work.

Now, make sure its OFF again...

The front plate of an outlet usually has a single standard screw in the middle. Take out the screw, remove the plate. Sometimes the plate gets put on while the paint underneath is still wet, so they will stick. You might find running a razor blade around the outside will help free it and avoid tearing your latex paint.

The outlet should now be exposed; there should be two standard screws holding it into the electrical box, one at the top, and one at the bottom. Remove those and pull the outlet out so the wires are exposed. You should generally find a bare copper wire (safety ground), a white wire (neutral) and a black wire (hot). Look at your new outlet and it should have polarity designations on it. Typical home outlets have the wires connected with either screws or the wires are held in with a little tension device. If they are held in with screws, unscrew 'em. For the ones that look like the wires just go into little holes, there is usually a hole next to the wire where the release is--you stick a small screwdriver into it to depress a tab and pull out on the wire.

Connect your new outlet to the wires; usually the bare copper safety ground will attach to a screw painted green or with green lacquer on it on the body of the outlet. Push the wires and the outlet back into the electrical box, attach with the screws on the top and bottom, and replace the face plate. The outlet usually has some play to it so you can adjust it side to side to make sure the front plate lines up right. Once its adjusted, flip the breaker back on and look for fireworks. If you don't get fireworks, try a lamp and see if that works. If that works, plug in your expensive electronics...

Again, make bloody sure the outlet is not hot when you work on it. If there is someone else in your house, make sure they know *not* to flip the breaker back on while you are working. I think its the trades practice to put a piece of tape over the breaker to make it real obvious the breaker is off for a reason...
I would suggest, at least the first time find a friend who has done some basic wiring and get them to show you what to do. It is very easy for anyone with even the most basic skills. Just make sure the power is off from the breaker panel!!!

Reader Digest and many other publications have diagramed instructions for doing things like this, but a few minutes with a friend would be of greater value.

Be careful.
If you have to ask you should probably call an electrician.
So the ground wire, I just wind that around the screw and tighten?

Audire, have you read the above responses or are you just not getting the message? When dealing with electricity, if you don't know what you're doing, then get someone who does.
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Elizabeth, you are right. The whole process is quite easy. I just don't want to hear from a friend of Audire that he fried himself when he didn't know what he was doing. You are an above average audiophile (that's not supposed to be an insult) plus handi-person. That doesn't mean everyone else is as good as you.

The grounding wire does go around the screw, but you need to be sure you have the other wires at the proper terminals or you will reverse the polarity of the outlet, and affect the sound quality of your system.
When you wind the wire around the screw wind it clockwise so that when you tighten the screw you are also tightening the wire loop. The screw for the hot wire is supposed to be brass and the neutral is silver colored.

Sperry Instruments makes a really handy little device that you plug into your outlet. It is a little yellow box with three lights on it that indicate whether the wiring is done correctly or not. It's best not to rely on a lamp because it will still light if you reverse the hot and neutral wires and will not tell you if you got the ground right. You can also use the tester to confirm that the power is off.

Your local Home Depot or any large hardware store should have a number of DIY wiring booklets as well as the Sperry or similar tester.
Watch out if your house has aluminum wiring. You need special connectors for this stuff, and it may not be compatible with your outlets.

Failure to properly address aluminum wiring will cause a fire hazard. Improperly done joints will oxidize and arc out under load.

ALuminum wiring is illegal under most codes now, but is common in construction from 1970 through the mid 80's.
Thanks everyone for your instructions and also for your warning. I was able to change the outlet without any problems. Yeah!

Now for my question:
The other outlet I wanted to replace was different so I left it alone. One of the sockets is controlled by a switch and I saw that there were 2(it looked like 2) red wires connected to where the black wire would normally be. The 2 black wires were in one hole where there would normally be one (this socket is not controlled by the switch). Anyway, I'd prefer not to have either one controlled by a switch if possible - what do I do with these red wires? Further help would be much appreciated.
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Thanks for the info Elizabeth.
Great post, Elizabeth!
I also routinely replace dupes live, even showing my 16yr old daughter while doing it. Yet I remember as a kid I was fixing an old transformerless 5-tuber in the basement, poking around live with my requisite one-hand-behind-my-back to avoid closing a circuit, and suddenly woke up 10 minutes later 10 feet across the room, on the floor with a bruised head. Next day I noticed a small red mark on my neck. Later I returned to my basement lair, finally noticing the dangling piece of 16AWG clamped to the cold water pipe! "How convenient!", I had thought when installing it some months before....