How do I install electrical receptacles and switches?


Ron Cowgill shows you how to install a regular light switch, a three way switch, a dimmer switch, a receptacle and GFCI receptacle.


If you are a bit intimidated by electrical projects around your house, you don’t have to be. We’ll share a few tips with you today on how to change an outlet and keep it very simple.The first thing we want to talk about is an outlet. A standard outlet around your house that looks just like this. Before you go pulling this out of the wall, the first thing you want to do is go turn the circuit breaker off for that outlet or switch that you are going to replace. A couple of tools that you will want to use to change those outlets and switches around your house, the first is wire strippers and you will notice that there are several notches in here based on the wire size that you are working with. When you put the notch around the wire and tug and that insulation will come off exposing the wire you are working with. We also have a pair of Lyman pliers and these are good to bend the wire into a hook so you can place it over the screw terminal. In this case we have a green wire again, and you want to make sure we put that on the green terminal.Another tool you will need is a five-in-one screwdriver. This you pull it apart and it has several bits and tips on the end. This one is the Phillips side with two different sizes. You also have the flathead side where you have two different sizes. This all assembles into one neat little tool no matter what screw you run into, you will be able to take it apart with this one little screw driver. A great tool to have.The first device we will talk about is a standard outlet. Your standard outlet will have two bronze terminals, two silver terminals and a ground. Your white wires always go to the silver terminal, your green or bare always go to the ground terminal and your black or red wires always go to your bronze terminals.In some case you may need to use a GFI outlet. A GFI outlet will look like this. It has a test button. Most of them that you see have a red and black button on them. This particular one is all white. People like this one. It looks a bit better in their home. These need to be placed in a kitchen, a bathroom, out in your garage, outside and even in an unfinished basement. If this outlet detects any change in voltage, this outlet will shut itself off in one tenth of a second.The standard singer pull switch, you notice it only has two terminals and it will also have a ground terminal. It doesn’t matter where those wires go; you simply put those two wires on there from the old switch on to your new one, hook up you ground wire and you are ready to re-install your switch.Another switch you may run into is a three-way switch. You notice this is a little bit larger and you also notice that it has three terminals instead of just two. This switch allows you to control a light from two separate locations. So for instance, if you enter your kitchen from one space and there is a switch there and you come in from the other side and there is another switch there, both of those switches control the same light, that’s a three-way switch. So, now that you know what type of switch you have, you can go to the store to get that replaced.When you have a three-way switch, two the terminals are the same color, you will also have two wires coming from that old switch that you need to put on the same side and you will have a third wire that is a different color that will go on the darker colored terminal and again you have your ground terminal and that is where the green wire or bare wire goes.A couple of reasons you may need to replace your outlet. If it gets used a lot it will break, the plastic will crack or the openings will come apart or it just stops working. Those are some simple reasons to why it may stop working. So, what you will want to do is just pull it out of the wall and take your flat tip screw driver, place it on the terminal and turn it counter clockwise. Lefty loosey, righty tighty. Just remember that so. You want to loosen it up so turn it counter clockwise, grab the wire, and pull it off. Once you have it disconnected, you can slide it on to your new terminal for your new outlet. You have bronze terminal to bronze terminal. These black wires go on to the bronze side, and if you notice on the other side, you have white wires. The white wires always go on the silver terminals, so you will disconnect those and place them on the silver terminals, and here you have a bare copper wire, that bare copper wire is the ground. That ground wire goes on the green terminal. Once you have those wires installed on this new outlet, you can re-install it. Now when you are ready to change the switch, you notice that you have two wires, that’s a standard single pull switch which is what we have here. Both color terminals are the same, so it doesn’t matter where these two wires go. Disconnect the first wire and slide it off, bring up the new switch, it goes on here. Here is where you always need to take your pair of pliers and spin this around so it will go on the terminal correctly. The wire should always wrap around the same way you are going to tighten it, so that way the wire always stays on.When you have a three-way switch you have two wires that are same color, make sure both of those wires go on the same color terminals. You will have an odd color wire and that will go on the third terminal of the switch. Again you will find that you have a ground wire, all of these devices that we have talked about today have a ground wire. There is a reason they are there and that is to protect you and your family from electrical shock.This dimmer switch happens to be a rotary dimmer. Push on and off. It is the standard dimmer you would find in most homes. The reason you would want one of these in a dining room where you don’t want the lights on 100%, you may want to dial them back, set for mood lighting. There is a bunch of reasons you may want to do it on top of energy savings.Now that we have removed the switch here. We know we have a single pull switch and we have two wires. If you pull out that switch and you see there are three wires going to it, you will want to disconnect those three wires and keep in mind two of those wires are going to be the same color and one will be a different color. When you buy your three-way dimmer, notice we have two colors that are the same and one that is different. The two wires coming out of the wall would be connected to the two colors that are the same individually and the third wire gets connected to the odd colored that is coming out of the wall. So, our single pull dimmer, which is just a push rotary dimmer. We are going to remove the two wires from the switch and we will take the first wire and connect it to one wire on your dimmer and the second wire gets connected to the terminal on your wire on your dimmer. In this case we have a ground wire on the dimmer and this gets connected inside the box to the other ground wires. Take the two wires coming in and twist them clockwise, then you take your wire nut twisting it clockwise onto the wires until there snug. You can pull on the wires in the wire nut and if it doesn’t come off, it is ready to go. Install that dimmer back into the box and put your cover plate back on and now you will have control over your lighting.If for some reason you go down stairs, and you turn your circuit breaker back on and you come upstairs test the outlet you have just installed and it doesn’t work, what you want to do is go back and double check your terminals and make sure the wires that you have installed are tight and in the proper location, and if there are any other wires or wire nuts in that box check them to make sure they are tight, once you have double checked all your connections, you can turn your circuit breaker back on and check you outlet, you should be fine.


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