24 Sep

Jacked Up Plugs

Fixing The Plugs

Being a handyman service can bring some pretty interesting requests from time-to-time.  I had an interesting request earlier this week to fix a few issues in this older home that had some jacked up wall plug receptacles.  I was only told that some of the receptacles needed to be replaced, but I didn’t know what the issues were until I arrived.

Once I arrived, and started looking around, I found the issue right away.  Can you spot the issue?

messed up plug

Yes that is correct, someone broke off the ground of a plug and it was stuck inside the receptacle.  I am not sure how in the world this would happen, but it did.  Instead of trying to remove this piece, I simply was there to replace all of the jacked up plugs.

Disclaimer:  If you are not an electrician, work with electricity at your own risk.  We are not advocating you do tackle any of the jobs mentioned on this site.

Before working with anything related to electricity, be sure to turn off the electricity at the breaker box.  Each home is different, but you will typically find the breaker box either in the garage, a master closet, or utility room.  Yours should look similar to this one.

breaker box

Most times the breaker box is labeled to let you know which fuse is connected to which area of the home.  You should still take precaution and connect a lamp to the plug you will be working with, and turn the lamp on.  Trip the breaker you feel is connected to that specific plug and see if the light goes off.  If it did, then you are in luck and guessed correctly.  If not keep tripping the breakers until you find the right one.   It could also be a good idea to trip all breakers and that way you are specifically safe at all times.  If you do that though be sure to not keep things like the refrigerator tripped too long.

How to replace the receptacal

Now that the breaker is tripped, you can safely replace the wall receptacle.  It is still a very good idea to not be alone while you do this, or at least have someone available to check on you periodically.  Working with electricity can be very dangerous even for the best of the pros.

A good tip is to go slow with any replacements, and actually use your smart phone to take pictures as you go.  This will allow you to see how things looked prior to taking them apart, and helps you put things back together correctly.  For instance, if you are a newbie, pay attention to how the wires are connected, so you connect them back the same way.

Here is a great diagram to show you how the wiring should look on your wall plug.

electrical wiring example

As you can see there is not much to wiring one of these wall plugs/receptacles.  You have the “hot” wires, neutral wires, and a ground.  Make sure you securely connect all of the wires as shown in the diagram to the new receptacle.

Disclaimer: Make sure you purchased the receptacle with the correct Amps as needed for the breaker.   If you have any questions, remove the old one, and look somewhere on the side or back of the plug and you will see the amps that it pulls.  As long as it matches the amps on the breaker box you are good.

Now that you have things connected back and you securely connect the plug back to the wall, it is time to test.   Plug your lamp back into the socket, and go to your breaker box and engage the breaker once again.  If you did everything correctly the lamp should turn on.  If it does not, first ensure that the lamp is indeed turned on.  Secondly make sure you did not ruin the bulb by moving the lamp too much.   Thirdly would be to trip the breaker again, and remove the plug to make sure you connected the wires correctly.

If doing all of these things and the lamp still does not turn on you may want to call a real electrician.

I hope this has been helpful.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.  I will do my best to answer your questions or walk you through how to do something.