How to change an outlet to a GFCI


As I wrote about a few days ago, we are having work done to our backyard. Already we are almost a week behind schedule because of the rain, according to our landscaper/contractor, and we have barely started…Anyways, the drama on Friday was the electricity.
I got a call at work from John because the pool guys were in the backyard using a jackhammer to start on the concrete, and our fuse blew. Of course, the outside outlets in our house are not up to code and are not GFCI outlets, and don’t have the reset button. So I had to leave work to drive all of the way home to flip the fuse in the basement.
On my way home I was thinking that this problem could be a big one…how many times is our fuse going to blow while they are working? So, I stopped off at Rona to see how hard it would be to replace the outlet. I picked up a new outlet for about $20.00, and a new cover for about $6.00. To call in an electrician would about $200, and it needed to be done right away, so I decided to try it myself. What could possibly go wrong right??? **Please note that I am not trained, licensed, nor do I claim to have any sort of electrical knowledge, I am simply (maybe stupidly) brave enough to try. For any trained electrician, I am going to apologize for my lack of knowledge, vocabulary, and the fact that I didn’t hire you! If you are going to try this yourself, then I suggest you do some research yourself…
Here is what the outlet looked like before…

First thing…and MOST important…TURN OFF THE POWER…make sure you have turned off the power to the area you are working on.
Then, the challenge for this plug was to get it off. Someone had used what seemed like construction adhesive to seal it to the wall, so I had to use an exacto knife to cut it out and pick it off. Then there was one screw to remove in order to get the face plate off.

Once the face plate is off, there are two screws holding the outlet in place. Unscrew both of them and you will be able too pull out the entire assembly like this…

Now here comes the hard part… (*Note: when I read that part out loud in my head, I have a very sarcastic tone… this is not hard!) Loosen the screws for the white, black and grounding wires, and attach them to your new outlet. The back of the new outlet will be labelled clearly. There were arrows pointing to one side saying, “white wire”. The grounding wire is the wire with no plastic covering and that is attached to the screw at top of your new outlet.

There were a couple of extra screws on the back of the outlet, but as you can see, they had a strip of yellow tape over them, so it was pretty easy to decide what wire goes where.
Then, after connecting the three wires, gently push the wires back into the box and screw the new outlet in place.

After everything is in place, at this point you could try to turn on the power and try plugging something in to see if it works. Then, do a little happy dance because you just saved yourself $200, and screw on your new face plate. I had to drill two new holes in the plastic face plate because there were no holes. Also, a piece of foam for insulation, came with the new faceplate to slip in between the faceplate and wall.

The faceplate I bought has a spring in it so it closes itself.
The last step is to caulk around all of the edges. You don’t want to skimp on calking because obviously, it’s important to keep the water out!
Anyways, it took about 15 minutes total…easy. I was thankful it worked, because the pool guys looked at me like I was crazy when I said I was going to fix it…I would have felt pretty dumb if they couldn’t work for the rest of the afternoon and we had to call in an electrician…lol



One response »

  1. ahhhhh…….you gave me confidence to change the plate on my front door lock ……..and I did it with Peter’s help!!! ………………………..way to go! ……………………….


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