At least 200 people will be saved from death due to electrocutions if all houses in the United States have the ground fault circuit interrupter or GFCI. That is why the law requires the installation of outlets with GFCI in some areas of the house, especially outside, near the pool, bathroom, comfort room, and kitchen. Replacing an electrical outlet with a GFCI may or may not be about following the law. But doing so will surely improve safety of your house. You may hire a professional electrician to perform the job, though it’s not needed for an easy job like this. Here’s how to replace an electrical outlet with a receptacle-type GFCI:
- Safety first. Turn off the power source to the electrical outlet or better yet, turn off the power source of the house, just to be sure. Look for the breaker panel and then switch off the outlet’s breaker panel. Have a note on the electrical panel that it should not be touched. Now go to the outlet and test its receptacle using a circuit tester. This will ensure that the outlet’s power is already deactivated.
- Remove the old electrical outlet. Loosen the screws that secure the outlet’s cover. Pry off the cover after removing the screws. The cover is either attached to the outlet or it only serves as a frame for it. Pull the outlet out of the electric box. You’ll see its connected wirings. Take note where these wirings were connected because you have to connect those wires in the same manner to the new GFCI outlet. Disconnect the wires using the most appropriate means. Unscrew the screws if the wires are secured by screws or remove the wires if they are simply attached to the outlet. What’s important is that you have removed the existing electrical outlet. Spread the wires apart so they won’t touch one another.
- Determine the hot lines. These lines are those that are coming from the electrical box. Test the lines by turning on the power back again. Do this after separating the lines. Test the lines using the circuit tester and take note of which are the hot wires. Turn off the power source again and label the hot wires, if you need to.
- Attach the new GFCI receptacle to electrical wires. Connect the hot wires to the two GFCI receptacle terminals that are labeled “LINE.” Also, connect the white electrical wire to the chrome screw and the black wire to the bronze screw. Loop the wires in clockwise direction around the outlet’s base if the receptacle has no hole. Connect also the ground wire to the ground screw in GFCI receptacle. If there are two ground wires, attach the shorter wire to the GFCI ground screw and connect this wire to the other wire.
- Put the GFCI receptacle into the electric box. Carefully secure the wires in the box and then follow it with the receptacle. Screw the GFCI receptacle with the provided material and then put back the outlet cover.
- Test the newly installed GFCI outlet. Turn on the power source first. Use a circuit breaker again to test if the new outlet has electric power. If yes, then push the GFCI receptacle’s “TEST” button. You’ll hear a click as a sign that the internal breaker has tripped off. Test the receptacle again for any power. There should be no power or else, the GFCI is not working as expected. Push the receptacle’s reset button to reactivate its power. The outlet can now be used normally and safely.
Besides installing a GFCI receptacle, you may also install a circuit breaker type of GFCI or the portable type. Both have the same qualities as the GFCI outlet only with a different form.