Most jobs are potentially DIY as long as you know what you’re doing but there are a few notable exceptions which often include anything involving either gas or electricity.
You see, making a mistake when putting up a set of shelves can mean you’re left with a substandard set of shelves and you might end up breaking a few plates.
Making a mistake when changing an electrical outlet, however, could quite literally prove fatal.
So, we thought we’d focus on one question we’re often asked – is repairing or replacing an electrical outlet something it’s safe to do yourself?
To help you come to your own conclusions, we’ll outline the basic process below. If at any point it starts to sound even a little too daunting then you’re better off calling in a professional local electrician to take the job off your hands!
Before you start, make sure you’ve turned off the power at the mains unit or isolate the circuit. You shouldn’t be taking any chances here.
Next, ensure you have all the proper tools at your disposal – a set of screwdrivers, a replacement outlet and if you can stretch to it, a voltage tester.
Remove the outlet
Start by loosening the screws on the faceplate and keep them safe before pulling the outlet away from the socket box.
Looking for problems
At this point, it should be immediately obvious if there are any serious problems. Wires might have become loose or frayed over time or could have become detached entirely.
If there is a problem with the wiring we’d definitely recommend calling in an electrician but if there is simply a loose connection then you should be able to replace it yourself. If you want to replace the electrical socket, however, move on to the next step.
Once the faceplate is removed, you’ll notice three pairs of conductors – live, neutral and earth. The live wire will be brown or red, the neutral will be blue or black and the earth will be green and yellow.
Use a small screwdriver to undo the connections at the top of the socket outlet to release the conductors. Now, it’s time to get your replacement electrical outlet socket ready, so ensure the connections on the replacement are nice and loose.
Fitting the new socket
Take the live conductors (the brown or red ones, remember) and insert them into the ‘L’ hole, then take the neutral conductors (blue/black) and insert them into the ’N’ hole and then finally take the ground conductors (green and yellow) and fix them to the terminal marked with the earth symbol.
At every stage, tighten the retaining screws to ensure the wires are secure and make sure there’s no exposed wiring.
Putting it back together
Finally, click the faceplate onto the box, ensuring the cables all fit neatly inside. Then line up the screws with the holes and screw the faceplate onto the socket.
When it’s nice and tight and level (feel free to use a spirit level if you must), restore your power and plug in something that uses low power (like your phone) to test that it works.
As you can see, it’s a rather straightforward task. The only worry is that you’re working with electricity, which is a volatile beast at the best of times.
So, for the sake of what will probably be the same amount as a few rounds of drinks, before you reach for that screwdriver, think logically.