How to Replace a Worn-Out Electrical Outlet by backwiring the new heavy duty outlet. This project is continued from How to Replace a Worn-Out Electrical Outlet – Part 1.

Leviton Heavy Duty Electrical Outlet

Having removed the worn out electrical outlet, I’ll replace it with a Leviton 5252-W Heavy Duty Electrical Outlet (.pdf file) rated for 15AMPs and 125 volts for this high-use bathroom vanity location. The heavy duty outlet costs about $5 compared to less than $1 for the residential grade outlet. You get what you pay for in terms of quality and durability.

Leviton 5252-W Heavy Duty Electrical Outlet

Leviton 5252-W Heavy Duty Electrical Outlet

The following diagram explains the terminals and connections of an electrical outlet. I’m showing the Leviton 5320-WCP residential grade outlet because the side screw terminals are easier to see versus the heavy duty outlet above; however both outlets have the same configuration.

Electrical Outlet Terminals Diagram

There is no “up” or “down” to an electrical outlet and it can be installed in the “face” orientation as shown above or rotated 180 degrees. I recommend sticking with the orientation used in your home for consistency.

Backwiring an Electrical Outlet

The new Leviton 5252 outlet will be backwired using the screw-and-clamp system of the heavy duty outlet. Backwiring is faster than sidewiring and just as secure with the screw-and-clamp system of the heavy duty outlet. To backwire the outlet, the 12 gauge wires are stripped to the length as measured by the strip gauge embossed on the back of the outlet.

Electrical Outlet Backwire Strip Gauge

Electrical Outlet Backwire Strip Gauge

Here’s a closeup of the backwire method. The wire is inserted into the hole and captured by the silver colored clamp as the side screw is tightened. The clamp face is serrated for extra holding power and the wire will not rotate.

Leviton 5252 Heavy Duty Electrical Outlet Backwire

Leviton 5252 Heavy Duty Electrical Outlet Backwire

I like to wire the ground first for safety and convenience. The ground wire is looped around the green ground screw and the screw is tightened.

Electrical Outlet Ground Wiring Connection

Electrical Outlet Ground Wiring Connection

The hot (black) wires are inserted on the side with the brass colored screws and the screws tightened to clamp the wire in place. The white (neutral) wires are inserted on the side with the silver colors screws and secured. In a middle-of-the-run series wired configuration such as this, the current flows across the metal tab (red arrow) between the terminals to reach the downstream outlets. A problem with the outlet could affect all downstream outlets.

Electrical Outlet Backwiring in Series (Middle of the Run)

Electrical Outlet Backwiring in Series (Middle of the Run)

The backwired outlet is ready for mounting in the electrical box.

Backwired Outlet Ready for Mounting in the Wall Box

Backwired Outlet Ready for Mounting in the Wall Box

At this point all that’s left to do is gently fold the wires inside the wall box, fasten the two mounting screws and replace the outlet cover plate.

This project is continued in How to Replace a Worn-Out Electrical Outlet – Part 3.

Take care,

Bob Jackson

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