Tuesday, December 31, 2013

How to Replace an Electrical Outlet

I am in the process of installing under-cabinet lighting to show off my new backsplash.  I despise visible wires so I needed to find a way to plug in my under-cabinet lights someplace "invisible".  hehe.  My cousins just did the same thing and they gave me the idea to switch out the single microwave outlet in the cabinet above the microwave for a double one.  Then I just need to drill some holes in the bottom and sides of my cabinets and I can plug the lighting in there.

This was my first experience with electrical work and it was much easier than I anticipated so I figured I would share a how-to.  I did a little research and an electrician would charge anywhere from $100-$200 for this type of work.  The actual outlet only cost about $5 so I think it's totally worth it to DIY this one!

Here's how it's done:

1. Figure out your circuit's current in order to purchase your new outlet.  Most household circuits are 15 amps.  However, some appliances, such as the microwave may need 20 amps, as was the case with mine.  You can tell the difference because a 20 amp outlet has a "T-shaped" prong hole, whereas the normal 15 amp outlet just has straight prong holes.

New outlet and cover

2. Turn off the electricity to your outlet via the circuit breaker!!!

3. Remove the existing outlet by unscrewing the top and bottom long screws.  Note the colors and how the different wires are attached.  The black wire is the "hot" one, which carries the current, the white one is neutral and the brass/bare one is the ground.

4. Remove the white and black wires from the existing outlet by loosening the screws on either side of the outlet and pulling them out.  Remove the ground wire with pliers.

5. Attach the wires to your new outlet.  Insert the black wire in the hole next to the brass-colored screw (black = brass), then tighten the screw.  Insert the white wire into the hole next to the silver screw.  Use pliers to wrap the ground wire around the green screw on the top (ground = green).

6. Insert the new outlet into the receptacle, screw into place and cover with your new outlet cover.

Now I am hoping that I get the energy on New Years Day tomorrow to install the under-cabinet lighting!  Has anyone else installed under-cabinet lighting themselves?  I'm considering doing some above-cabinet lighting too, but I can't decide... any thoughts?

Until 2014... HAP-py New Year!!


  1. I was wondering do you know what the load is on the microwave? They usually put single outlets in for a reason.

    1. Yes... the microwave draws 14 amps and the lights less than 1, so we're still below the 16 amp limit for a 20 amp circuit.


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