How to Change a Wall Socket

Changing a wall socket--when it has cracks or will not hold a power cord--is not difficult. Because you are working with 120 volts of electricity, it is important to cut off the power supply to the socket and test for current before removing the socket. The wall socket will have several wires connected on each side as well as a ground wire on the bottom. Use replacement sockets that are rated for the same amperage and voltage as the faulty socket.

Test wall sockets before attempting repairs to them.
  1. Turn the off the circuit breaker to the faulty wall socket. Remove the screw that secures the cover plate to the wall with a Phillips-head screwdriver. Pull the cover plate away from the wall.

  2. Touch the probes of a test light on each of the top wire terminals on each side of the socket. If the test light does not come on, move the probes to the lower two wire terminals. If the test light comes on at either of these two points there is still power going to the outlet. Make sure you turn off the correct circuit breaker and then test again until the test light does not illuminate.

  3. Remove the two screws that secure the socket to the junction box with a Phillips-head screwdriver. Pull the socket away from the wall as much as possible.

  4. Loosen the terminal screws on each side of the socket with a flathead screwdriver. Label each wire as you remove it from the terminals. Place a piece of tape on the wire and write the wire location on the tape. This will help when installing the new wall socket. There will be two wires on each side of the socket, and one green or bare wire on the bottom of the wall socket.

  5. Take the faulty socket to the hardware store and get a replacement. The amp, voltage and wire gauge readings are on the back of the socket. Purchase a replacement socket that has the same readings.

  6. Loosen the wire terminal screws on the new socket. Bend all of the wire ends into a u-shape hook so that they will hook around each terminal screw.

  7. Attach the wires to each of the terminal screws and tighten the screws to secure the wires. Do this one wire at a time and remove the tape from each wire as you secure the wire. The black and red wires attach to the brass terminal screws and the white wires attach to the silver screws. The green or bare ground wire attaches to the green grounding terminal screw.

  8. Stuff the wires into the junction box as you line the attaching holes on the socket with the junction box. Secure the socket to the junction box with the retaining screws. Attach the cover plate to the wall and secure it with the retaining screw.

  9. Turn on the circuit breaker to the wall socket.


  • Always disconnect power from electrical equipment before attempting repairs.