Kitchens often have electrical outlets over countertops and near sinks where water can splash on them. This poses a shock hazard if you come in contact with something plugged into a wet outlet. Change those outlets to the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) type to prevent getting shocked. These outlets switch off automatically when they detect that something is wet and shorting out. With a few simple tools, you can replace the outlets near your kitchen sink with a GFCI outlet and improve the safety of your kitchen.
The Supplies You'll Need
- flat-blade screwdriver
- wire cutters/strippers
From the electronics supply store:
- a GCFI outlet for each outlet in the kitchen you want to replace
- a cover for each GFCI outlet
Removing the Old Outlet
- Switch off the power to the outlet at the circuit box for your house.
- Remove the cover from the outlet and set aside.
- Remove the two screws at the top and bottom of the old outlet that hold it in the junction box.
- Pull the outlet out of the junction box, followed by the wires.
- Clip the black, white and green (or copper) wires as close to the back of the outlet as possible.
- Remove the old electrical outlet and set aside. You may want to keep the old outlet and cover plate in case you need to replace a bad outlet elsewhere in the house.
Installing the GFCI Outlet
- Strip a half inch of insulation from the end of the black, white and green wires. If you have a bare copper ground wire, no preparation is needed.
- Attach the green (or copper) wire to the green screw post and secure.
- Push the white wire into the hole in back of the new outlet marked "Neutral" and screw down the connector to secure it.
- Push the black wire into the hole marked "Hot" and screw down the connector.
- Push the wires into the junction box, followed by the GFCI outlet.
- Secure the outlet to the junction box with the screws at top and bottom.
- Attach the cover plate with the screw in the center.
- Turn the power back on to the outlet at the circuit box.
Testing the GFCI Outlet
- Plug something into the outlet, like a blender, and turn it on.
- Press the "Test" button on the GFCI outlet and the blender should immediately go off.
- Turn off the blender and press the "Reset" button on the outlet.
- Turn the blender back on to make sure it works.
Problems That May Require Professional Help
If you encounter any of the following situations, you may need an electrician to come in and finish the work for you.
- Your outlets are two prong and don't have a ground wire.
- The wiring doesn't match the standard black/white/green color coding.
A licensed electrician will need to sort through your wiring to make sure the GFCI outlet is wired up safely. Contact a service like Crown Electric Ltd for more information.