If your bathroom still has the old two-prong outlets, you are at risk of getting an electric shock from a wet or faulty appliance. With some simple household tools and a few minutes of your time, you can replace those dangerous outlets with a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. These outlets shut off the power to the device if it gets wet or there is a short. Here are the DIY steps to keep your family safe in the bathroom.
Tools and Supplies You'll Need
- flat-blade screwdriver
- wire cutters and strippers
From the electrical supply store:
- GFCI outlet for each outlet you wish to replace
- decorative cover plate for the outlet
Removing the Old Outlet
- Switch the power off to the bathroom at the circuit breaker box for the house.
- Remove the cover plate from the outlet by loosening the screw in the center of the plate.
- Remove the two screws that secure the outlet in the electrical junction box.
- Pull the outlet out of the junction box with the wires behind it.
- Cut the wires as close to the back of the outlet as possible.
- Discard the old outlet and cover plate.
Installing the GFCI Outlet
- Remove about a half inch of insulation from the black and white wires coming out of the junction box.
- Connect the green wire on the GFCI outlet to the green or brass screw located in the back of the junction box.
- Push the bare end of the white wire into the hole marked "Neutral" in the back of the GFCI outlet.
- Push the bare end of the black wire into the hole marked "Hot" in the back of the outlet.
- Push the wires into the junction box, followed by the outlet.
- Secure the outlet to the junction box with the screws at the top and bottom of the outlet.
- Fasten the new cover plate to the outlet with the single screw in the center of the plate.
- Switch the power back on to the bathroom at the circuit box.
Testing the GFCI Outlet
- Plug a hair dryer into the new outlet.
- Turn the hair dryer on.
- Press the button on the GFCI outlet marked "Test" and the dryer should go off.
- Press the button marked "Reset" and the dryer should come on again.
Problems You May Experience
These issues will require the help of one of your local electricians.
- There is no ground screw (green or copper) at the back of the junction box. The electrician will need to run a ground wire to the outlet before the GFCI outlet can be installed.
- There are more than three wires going to the old outlet. This outlet may be controlled by more than one light switch. You'll need an electrician to sort through the wiring to determine which wires to connect to the GFCI outlet.
- The old wiring doesn't conform to the black/white/green building code standards. If you live in a very old house, the wiring may need to be updated to meet current building safety standards.
For more information, contact contractors like Starlite Electric Ltd.