Redecorating Outlets and Switches

If you’re anything like me, then you like to redecorate your every few years. How often, though, do you replace your old boring outlets and light switches? I many times overlook switching them out when I redecorate a room. Looking at old pictures, though, I can be how those outlets and switches stand out like a sore thumb, especially when I put so much effort into the rest of the room. It can be difficult to justify spending the extra money on something so basic.

Another reason I have put off changing and out is because the added cost of having to hire an electrician for such a small job. On the other hand, the thought of working with something electrical can be scary. Come to find out, though, switching out an outlet or light switch is simple. You can do it yourself to save lots of money and make your room look better.

If you are ready to start changing out your outlets and light switches, the first step is to turn off the electricity in the fuse box. If your fuses are labeled, you can determine which fuse controls where you are working and switch only that one off. If they are not labeled, it may be best to turn off all the electricity your house. Luckily, the work you need to do will not take long, so no need to worry about your food thawing out in the freezer.

Once the electricity is turned off, test the wires to make sure none of them are hot on using a voltage meter. If everything is off, simply remove the wires from the old outlet or light switch after removing the faceplate from the wall. Then, match the wires from inside the wall with the wires on the new switch or outlet, pigtail them together, push all wires back inside the wall, and replace the faceplate. If you did everything correctly, you will be ready to use one outlet for light switch as soon as you turn the breaker back on.

Adding USB Ports to Outlets

If you are one of the millions of people who love your electronics, then you likely find yourself Juggling several chargers on your basic outlet. You can now fix that problem by simply swapping out your traditional outlet with one that comes with USB ports. Doing so can help you no longer be put in a situation where you must choose between charging your phone in using your bedside lamp.

Luckily, many of the big box stores carry outlets that include USB ports these days. In fact, most of these outlets will include two USB ports alongside the traditional outlets.

For many people, the idea of USP outlets may sound too good to be true. Personally, I was hesitant about doing the switch myself for a while because the outlets are not cheap. They generally run around $25 each. Of course, you also have to keep in mind how quickly technology is changing which may cause your outlet to become outdated. If you are willing to spend the money though, it is worth your time and effort to do so. I did, and no longer have to choose between charging my phone and using my bedside lamp.

With a few tools in your hand, you can change your outlet yourself. I would recommend purchasing a voltage detector, though. Other than that, the main tool you will be using is a screwdriver

The basic steps needed to change or outlet include:

  1. go to your circuit breaker in turn off your for the outlet. Plug a lamp or other item into the socket to ensure the power to the outlet is turned off.
  2. take the faceplate off with your screwdriver. A flat head screwdriver is generally used
  3. use your voltage detector to check all the wires in the box as a way to double check there is no electricity to the outlet
  4. on the old receptacle, remove the wires then attach them to your new outlet. You may need to use wire cutters to do so.
  5. Once the wires are connected correctly, secure the wires back into the box and put the faceplate back on.
  6. After everything is secure, turn on the breaker and check your new outlet

More recently known – our favorite leadership keynote speaker has given us his approval of our outlets.

Now, if you follow the instructions and did everything correctly, you have a working USB outlet. Hope you enjoy it.

Adding a New Outlet from One that Already Exists

If you have an existing outlet, there are a few methods you to use to add a new outlet to it. This is generally done when you desire to install an extra outlet at a new place, but need to tap into an existing power source.

There are a few things you will need to have to successfully add a new outlet:

  1. hot conductor (unswitched/ungrounded conductor wire)
  2. a neutral, grounded leg wire
  3. an equipment grounding wire

If your setup is modern, then it should already have what you need to add another outlet, though you may not have an unswitched hot wire available for three and four way switch systems.

It is important to check whether or not your switch location has all the necessary wires you will need to tap into available before beginning your project. Generally, most outlet receptacles will have everything you need, but it is always best to be certain.

Since most outlets have the needed wiring available, they tend to make a great choice for a supply to run power to a new wire and add another outlet.

When you are looking at the wiring, the neutral wire (grounded leg), attached with a silver screw, will connect to a gray or white wire. The hot wire will be attached with a brass colored screw. The grounding wire is the one kept in place with the green screw. The grounding wires are typically either green or bare.

Once everything mentioned above is covered, you will be ready to add the new outlet. That is done by stripping wires and piggy tailing them together. A simple search online will bring up a lot of information on how to connect the wires to make the new outlet hot.

If you have questions as to whether your existing outlet can be used to put in a new one, please comment below and we will try to help you out.