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How To Replace A Twenty Amp Outlet With A Fifteen Amp Outlet

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You may have moved into a home that has a twenty amp outlet that was used for a high powered appliance. However, you may need that outlet for powering electrical components that can only use a fifteen amp outlet.

Fortunately, it's relatively easy to replace electrical outlets with only a few simple tools and very little mechanical ability. While all electrical repair may be intimidating for the average homeowner, it's not inherently dangerous if you are mindful of safety precautions before and during any electrical repair service work.

What's the difference between a twenty and fifteen amp outlet?

A twenty amp outlet has receptacles that are configured differently than the more familiar fifteen amp outlet. While a fifteen amp model has the traditional two parallel slots and a round hole for a ground prong, a twenty amp outlet has one slot that is "T" shaped to allow a twenty amp plug to be used.

This configuration is a safety feature that ensures that a higher powered appliance in being inserted into a twenty amp electrical circuit. These appliances have a plug that cannot be used in a fifteen amp outlet so the line won't be overloaded.

Overloading a line will cause the circuit breaker that controls the line to shut off power to the line. If the breaker won't happen to be defective, overloading a circuit line could cause overheating and possibly even fire.

What do you need to change to a fifteen amp outlet?

A fifteen amp outlet

A flat head and a philips head screwdriver

Removing the twenty amp outlet

You must turn off the circuit breaker that controls power to the outlet. When the power is off, remove the face plate that covers the outlet by removing the center screw.

Loosen the two screws that hold the outlet inside the gang box in the wall, then pull the outlet from the wall. You will then disconnect all wires by loosening the terminal screws that secure them to the sides of the outlet.

Installing the fifteen amp outlet

You will have either one or two sets of three wires that were disconnected from the original outlet.

If one set of wires is present, connect the black wire to the top brass colored terminal, the white wire to the top silver terminal, and the green wire to the single green terminal.

If a second set of three wires is present, connect the black wire to the bottom brass terminal, the white wire to the bottom silver terminal, and the green wire to the single green terminal.

Push the outlet into the gang box in the wall and tighten the two screws to secure it, then replace the face plate and turn on the breaker. Job complete. 

To learn more, contact a company like Morris Electric Contracting & Service, Inc.