replacing electrical plugs

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I bought an old condo after moved out from my parents' house. I would like to replace all almond-color electrical plugs with white plugs. The plug and the cover are pretty cheap at HD.
I pulled out one and it doesn't seem too complicate but I'm not sure. What do I need to know before I will give it a shot?
You advice is greatly appreciated.
Angela
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First on the list would be that what you appear to be posting about is called an outlet, not a plug. I'm sure if you google "replacing an outlet" you will find plenty of websites with info and pics.

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Goog wrote:

Step #1: Know where the breaker box is, how to locate a particular circuit and turn off the breaker for it.
Step #2: Know which wire goes to which color of screw in the outlet.
Step #3: Know how much insulation to strip from the wire, how to do it, how to make an eye in the bare wire and which way to place the eye on the screw.
--

dadiOH
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Andy comments:
1) Make sure the outlet is dead before you mess with it. Plug in a lamp and throw the correct breaker to make it turn off. Repeat it on and back off. This is very important. You might have a bad bulb and the outlet may still be live. You need to make the outlet dead...... for sure.....
2) When you remove the old outlet , you should see the following: A white wire that goes to the silver colored screw, which is on the side of the outlet with the longer slit. This is the "neutral" wire.
A black wire that goes to the gold colored screw, which is on the side of the outlet with the shorter slit.(This is the "hot" wire)
A bare copper wire that goes to a little green screw at one end of the outlet. This is the safety ground wire. Sometimes the installer doesn't use this. However, you should make sure it is connected on your new outlet. It connects the safety ground to the little pencil sized hole beneath both of the slits on the outlet, and may or may not be used, depending on what you plug in..... But it is important to have it.....
If your outlet has more than one wire going to any of the screw terminals, then try to copy it the same way for your new outlet. It means that several outlets may be "daisy chained" and you need to do the same thing.
If any of this doesn't seem to fit what you see when you look at the inside of the old outlet, then stop, put everything back, and find a ham radio operator or a neighbor's husband who wears jeans to work and drives an old truck..... You will need their advice.......
Good luck,
Andy
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AndyS wrote:

As no one else has mention this, Angela's existing recepticals may have back stabbed connections, in which case she should cut the wires as close to the receptical as possible, then strip them to make the screwed connections on the new ones.
Jeff
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Jeffry Wisnia
(W1BSV + Brass Rat \'57 EE)
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wrote:

I've heard that opinion before. Why are back stabbed connection no god?
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wrote:

If the wire isn't inserted properly, it will have a less than adequate contact inside the receptacle, which will ultimately cause an open circuit. Older receptacles were designed to accept #12 conductors, which due to potentially higher amperage draw, I suppose, added to the potential for an open circuit

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jeff_wisnia wrote:

There is usually a release hole on backstabbed outlets that I've seen. Pushing a small screwdriver or another piece of wire in this hole will release the wire, so no cutting is needed.
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wrote:
[snip]

I've replaced several so loose you don't need the release hole.
--
Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.us
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I'm sure a google search will give you pictures and descriptions of how to do this. Other than the basic mechanics of stripping the wire and looping the end around the screw in the direction so that tightening the screw, closes your loop of your wire, white wires go to silver screws and colored wires go to brass screws, green or bare wires go to green grounding screws, you need to be conscious of any outlets that are controlled by a wall switch. Often when this is done, half the outlet remains live, and half is controlled by the switch. The wiring scheme looks the same as any other daisy-chained outlet, except there is a small brass tab on the "hot" side of the outlet, that must be cut first. If it's not cut, the switch will have no affect on the outlets it should control. Also, be aware that there may be other wires in the outlet box, that are not attached to the outlet. These may be from another circuit and may be alive, leave them alone
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RBM wrote: ...

I don't suppose somebody wants to try explain Edison circuits... :)
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I hear ya. These are the pitfalls for amateurs. If it's a relatively new building, and was wired to code, the neutrals of any Edison circuits will be pigtailed... and if not, separating the neutrals off the receptacle can be dangerous and or painful

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Or, what is an electrical plug.
http://www.made-in-china.com/image/2f0j00dBJtDEyFEaouM/Electrical-Plug-with-Cord-KH-99221-.jpg
This, from a google search.
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Christopher A. Young
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No worry. She's not doing anything with the outlets. She wants to replace the PLUGS.
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Christopher A. Young
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And if it is a "split" receptacle thetie tab also needs to be removed, or the breaker will trip IMMEDIATELY when turned on.
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We're not talking about recepticles. We're talking about PLUGS. Please stay on topic.
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Christopher A. Young
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Stormin Mormon wrote:

You are not talking about receptacles. Others are. Get a clue.
This is the same kind of "thinking" as conservatives that claim that the Democrats want to institute "death panels". Just ignore reality, and charge forward.
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I read the subject line. Conservatives read the House bill on health care. Liberals whimper when Conservatives are correct.
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Fortunately, they are not correct. If you actually read it, you'd know that.
Do you really think asking your doctor questions about options for a terminally ill family member is the same as a "death panel"? Really? If so, I feel sorry for your family.
This kind of scaremongering makes the right wing look really psycho. And it's all they are doing.
Top posted, to not break the previous responders form.
Stormin Mormon wrote:

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Don't buy the cheap outlets in the bulk 49 cent bin at the end of the aisle. Look for "spec" or "commercial" grade ones, they'll be a few dollars each, but will last longer and your plugs won't fall out of them.
Some outlets let you just plug the wires into spring-loaded holes in the back. Don't do that. Wrap the wires around the screws and tighten them. (Some outlets let you insert wires into slots and then tighten them with screws. That's ok, providing you can feel the wire fastened tightly in the slot when the screw is tight.)
And get a 3-light outlet tester so you can make sure they're all hooked up right. Use it on the old outlets *before* you disconnect them, so you can see if the connections are right to begin with (and then again to make sure the outlet is dead before you open it up.)
If you have any outlets where one plug is controlled by a wall switch, look very carefully: you'll see the metal tab connecting the two hot screws has been broken off. You'll need to duplicate this on the replacement. Make sure to remember which hot wire is which (one of them comes from the switch) when you reconnect it, so you'll know which half is switched. If you forget to break the tab, you just won't be able to switch the outlet off. You *may* find this also on some of your kitchen outlets, where one of the hot wires will be red. If you forget to break the tab on that one, expect rather more spectacular results when you try to put the breaker back on.
If the old wiring doesn't have a ground, you *should* replace the outlets with GFCI's, and use the "no equipment ground" sticker that comes with them. Also any outlet near a sink, any outlet in the bathroom and any outlet outdoors (in the U.S., maybe any outlet anywhere in the kitchen?) should be GFCI.
As you work, keep notes of which outlets are on which breaker. This will come in very handy someday.
If you find that some of the outlets are in holes in the wall without boxes, or have multiple wires connected to one screw, or just plain don't work ... well, you know where to find us.
Chip C Toronto
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