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JMR asked in Home & GardenDo It Yourself (DIY) · 1 decade ago

Did I wire this wall outlet properly?

Out kitchen wall outlet (just one - all of the others are working fine) quit working. It's a duplex outlet, and neither plug on it works. It only had a electric ignition stove plugged into it, so I don't think it could be the copper prongs inside becoming too far apart for a connection, because we rarely plugged and unplugged anything from it. Just the stove stayed plugged in all the time.

This is the old outlet that I took out: This is the left side of it, and as you can see, it has darker tan/yellowish screws for both terminals on the left. Two black wires (which I presume are the hot wires, from everything I've read) were connected to these two darker tan/yellowish screws. This is the right side of the old outlet. As you can see, there are two silver screws...each of these were connected to wires with a white covering over the wire itself (sort of a shield/sheath of some type)...but the wire covering itself underneath the sheath looks sort of black like the first set of wires on the left.

This is the new outlet that I installed. I shut off the power, took one wire at a time off, and made sure that I matched them up as they were. I put both black wires on the tan/yellowish screws, and the presumed white wires on the silver screws to the right.

It's still not working. We have a dining room outlet (the only other known outlet to have gone out in the house) that may have gone out at the same time. None of these are GFCI outlets, so there's no buttons or anything to reset. I've checked the breaker, it's on. No adverse effects from the outlet showing that anything is "wrong" when the power has been on.

What gives?

Also, if I do want to test the power with a tester that I I touch it to the screws/wires on either side? Black and silver, to make the hot and neutral connection? Black and black or white and white seems like it would cause an issue to test that way (I haven't tried anything yet).


And pardon the "missing screw" on the silver side of the old, someone threw that away and I kept this old plug just for reference to make sure I wasn't doing anything wrong. Also note that there was no ground plug at all. I know the dangers of this and all of that...right now we're just trying to get it working. We'll be selling this house at some point "as is" so we aren't going to make a big issue with getting everything rewired, etc.

3 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I'm in Oregon,USA and it seems from your writing that you may be in UK or Canada so our Codes would differ. It appears that you connected everything fine. Black is Hot and goes on the brass screw and white is Neutral and goes on the silver screw. In older times they didn't use Grounding wire however the metal box if connected to metal conduit may be grounded and the receptacle attaching screws ground it. To test,set the tester for AC volts and touch the Red lead to the Hot and the Black lead to the Neutral and see if there is a reading. If nothing happens then the wire is dead and there is a problem in the circuit. There could be a loose connection in another receptacle in the circuit or at the Breaker or at the Neutral Bar or a bad Breaker. The Main Service Box is very Dangerous for inexperianced persons. Please find a qualified person to help there.

  • 1 decade ago

    Believe it or not, it's hard to tell from the pictures. The proper way to wire an outlet is the white or gray wires to the silver screws & black (or whatever color it may be) to the brass screws. Or white wire to wide opening slot & black to the narrow opening slot.

    Legally, the way to change a 2 prong to a 3 prong is to install a GFCI outlet. In your situation, the stove shorting out to ground will make the metal case of the stove "hot". Touching the stove & the sink (grounded?) will produce a (lethal?) shock.With a GFCI outlet, the outlet will "see" current going out, but not back in, this will trip it, saving someones (your) butt. The GFCI should have a ground, but does not need it to work properly. Stickers are included with GFCI's that state "No equipment ground", so someone using the outlet knows that a ground isn't there.

    Home inspectors LOVE to put the 2 prong outlets changed to 3 prong outlets on their inspection reports!!

    If the GFCI doesn't fit in the old box, you, 1. change the box, 2. add a "handy" box extension ring, 3. add a wire mold extension box, to get the needed depth.

    As for the outlet not working, you may have a bad breaker, the handle being on, doesn't necessarily mean the breaker is really on. Use a "contact" type tester for this. "Non contact" tester sometimes give false readings. I have a cheap, $5 tester that I use for most trouble shooting. It looks like a plastic screwdriver with a metal blade sticking out of it. It's yellow & I bought it at Lowe's or Home Depot. It works just like a non contact tester, but requires you to actually put it on a metal part. You could also use a volt meter. Using a voltmeter, you should have about 120 volts from the breaker load screw to the neutral bar ( or even the panel box) in the panel. If you find one that is "on" & no voltage, you have a bad breaker.

    The other, non working outlet is most likely on the same circuit. It may have a bad connection at it, causing both outlets to not work.

    Sometimes, the wire breaks right where it was striped. The old timers used a knife, which may have caused a nick in the wire. Pushing the replacement outlet back, the wire may have broke.

    You could measure the voltage from a known, good outlet. Read the voltage from hot to neutral at the good outlet. You should have this same voltage, from the good hot, to the stove neutral. This would indicate a good neutral at the stove. Reading from the stove hot, to the good neutral would indicate a good hot at the stove. You MUST BE CARE FULL doing this, any part of the "circuit" at 120 volts or the "hot" WILL SHOCK you. You may need to use any extension wire, to get the "wire" close enough for the meter leads.

    The inside of a panel is no more dangerous than any other part of the wiring in you home, except for:

    1. If you have the main breaker in the panel, ( it may be outside, elsewhere) you have a somewhat UNLIMITED amount of current (amperage) at the main breaker. In this part of the country, about 3,000 amps. Even with the main breaker elsewhere, you have 60- 200 amps at the main lugs, this is enough to blow a screwdriver in two.

    2. Sometimes with newer vinyl insulation cables, the installer may have been heavy handed with the stripping, exposing the copper where one wouldn't expect it.

    3. You have 220 volts on side by side breakers.

    You are NOT in the UK, they use very different outlets. Canada uses the same, just at 50 Hertz, rather than our 60 Hertz.

    Source(s): 19 years as an electrician 2008 National Electric Code
  • 1 decade ago

    the hot side of the new outlet is the brass screws...the neutral side of the new outlet is the silver screws... you need to test your wires to find out which ones are the hot test this touch a wire to a tester lead then put the other lead of the tester one the ground..DO NOT TOUCH A WIRE TO THE GROUND WIRE OR YOU WILL TRIP THE BREAKER OR START A FIRE...if you cant figure this out call a electrician

    Source(s): i just know
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