How do I Install a GFCI Receptacle?

How do I install a GFCI Receptacle? What Tools do I need? I have no electrical background, can I do it myself? These are all common questions that most people have when doing a Home or Office improvement without the use of a professional electrician. Here is a Step by Step Explanation written by a Layman for Laymen.

Step One:

Turn off Power to the receptacle you are going to be working on. Avoid shocks and burns and make sure that no power is going to the unit. The easiest way to do this is to plug a radio or lamp into the unit and then turn it on. Next go to the Service panel or breaker box. Find the fuse or breaker that protects that receptacle, and place the breaker in the OFF position or remove the fuse COMPLETELY.

This should turn the lamp or radio off. Unplug the lamp and plug it into the other receptacle to make sure the power is off to both outlets. When you see the lamp or radio not turn on then you know power is off completely. Un-plug your device and move to the next step. If the device comes back on, stop everything and call an electrician.

Circuit Breaker

Step Two:

Now it’s Time to get tools…first look at the wall plate. What Type of screw driver do you need? For our GFCI Receptacles, you only need a Flat Head screw driver to take off the wall plate and to install the unit. Make sure you keep this handy through the entire installation process.
Install GFCI Outlet

Step Three:

Using the screw driver, rotate the screws counter-clockwise to remove the wall plate and GFCI Receptacle from the wall. If you are replacing an old receptacle, pull it out of the wall without disconnecting the wires.

Step Four:

Using your screw driver, Disconnect the Line wires (these are the wires NOT under the colored tape that should be in place.) from the GFCI you currently have wired, Making sure to not let the wires touch. Remove the GFCI and set aside.

Take the new GFCI Receptacle and attach the wires. The White wire goes onto the Silver screw topped terminal marked WHITE. The Black wire goes to the Brass screw topped terminal marked HOT. Wrap the wires around the terminal and Tighten down the wires with your screwdriver.

If there is a Grounding wire (it will be attached to top of old receptacle, look for a Bare Copper wire or Green) attach it to Green screw at the top of the receptacle. Do this only if there is a Grounding Wire.

Step Five:

Fold the wires into the Box, Keeping the grounding wire away from the White and Hot terminals. Set receptacle into wall and screw it back into place with the faceplate you removed in step one.
GFCI Outlet Wiring

Step Six:

It’s time to test your work. This is important to do because if you miswire the GFCI it may not prevent injuries due to electric shock. Also, if you have mistakenly connect the line and load wires The GFCI will not operate like an ordinary receptacle and it will not interrupt a ground fault. Here is how to test the receptacle.
  • The GFCI is shipped from the factory in the tripped condition and cannot be reset until it is wired correctly and power is supplied to the device. Plug your lamp or radio from step one into the GFCI and leave it plugged in and turned ON. Go back to the service panel and turn the power supply back on. Press the RESET button on the GFCI and the Green LED should light up and the radio/lamp should turn on. If the lamp/radio stays off, or you cannot engage the RESET button the wires have not been connected properly. Go back to Installation steps and Check to see if you have connected the GFCI properly. There will be a pamphlet with the GFCI with install instructions so refer to that as well.
  • If the lamp/radio turns on, press the TEST button in order to trip the device. This stops the flow of electricity making the device turn off. The Green LED will also turn off. If the power goes off, you have installed the GFCI correctly. Congratulations! To restore power, press the RESET button and you are good to go.
Now that you know how to install a GFCI receptacle, you can shop HomElectrical to find a variety of GFCI receptacles and improve your safety today!
Wattson Lumen
Wattson Lumen

As a Georgia-born, amped up electrical supplies enthusiast, international Popstar, and unqualified lifequard, Wattson prefers to lighten your day with humor and led lights (Just don't ask him to jump in if you're drowning).

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