Skip to Content

The Best Way To Replace An Electrical Outlet Box On Drywall

Moving to an old apartment is hectic. It’s not because moving is stressful. It’s because you have to repair and replace many old parts in the house.

Are you struggling to replace that old electrical outlet? But you don’t want to call in the electrician? By reading this article top to bottom, you don’t have to.

So, what is the best way to replace an electrical outlet box on drywall?

To replace an electrical outlet box on drywall, follow four steps. First, you have to unscrew the old outlet from the drywall. Next, carve the outlet hole in proportion to your outlet size. Then, place the new outlet on the box. Finally,  connect all the wires and insert the outlet in the hole.

Are you getting the hint? Replacing the outlet box isn’t much of a complicated task. If you want to look into further explanations, keep reading this article. 

Hopefully, you’ll get some insightful information!  

When is it Time to Replace Your Old Electrical Outlet Box?

Replacing your old electrical outlet box isn’t necessary. But if it’s not serving the purpose, you must change it immediately. 

There are many times when it becomes crucial to replace an electrical outlet box. You can check the following list to identify whether you should replace yours too:

  • The outlet isn’t working at all. It has completely expired.
  • The wires of the outlet have degraded and are not working.
  • You are noticing sparkles or excessive temperature when connecting to the outlet.
  • The outlet cover cracked and the wires became exposed.
  • You see flickering lights when the outlet is plugged in.
  • If you have to upgrade appliances, chances are you’ll need to upgrade your electrical outlet too.

I’d like to make a small note here. Sometimes you might need to pin down drywall anchors for using different types of electrical appliances. Make sure you fix any damaged or loosen drywall anchor before you use them. 

Back to the main topic. I guess you got the idea. Keep the above checklist in your mind. It’ll help you to figure out the right time to replace your old electrical outlet box. 

Did you check any of the scenarios from the above list? Are you looking for the exact way to replace an electrical outlet box? 

I’ll tell you how but first you have to collect a few things for the operation. 

Things You Need Before Starting the Procedure

Most of the elements you’ll actually find around your house. But if you’re a novice DIYer, you can check out Amazon to buy these things.

I’ll list down the things below:

Items

  • New electrical outlet box
  • Wire connectors
  • Screw Outlet Cover

Tools

  • Wire stripper
  • Voltage detector
  • Handheld Sawzall
  • Screwdriver Set
  • Drywall Saw

It will take only 5 to 10 minutes to complete the whole procedure. But if you don’t have much expertise, it will take a bit longer. Whatever the time takes, it’s pretty easy to perform. 

As you’re ready, it’s time to get into action! Follow the next section below and you’ll know how to replace the outlet. 

Warning: The Only Thing You Can’t Avoid 

Before you jump right into the steps, I have a precautionary measure for you. Throughout the process, you’ll see me giving you some optional steps. But there’s one step you can’t avoid at any cost.

I’m talking about turning off the power in your house. Yes, this means cutting off the power circuit. Yes, even if your electrical outlet isn’t leaking any voltage, you must cut off all the lines.

If you don’t power it off, you will get electrocuted when replacing the old outlet. It’s extremely dangerous. Even experts have to cut off all the powers before starting any procedure. 

There’s another small but significant step I want you to follow. You must place a sheet on the area where you’ll do the replacement.

It is just to keep your place clean and avoid any debris or crust touching the ground. Yes, it’s not as dangerous as the circuit breaker. But it’s an essential hack to keep your space clean.  

That you are prepared in every way, cheers on starting your electrical outlet box replacement!

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Replace an Electrical Outlet Box on Drywall

Replacing the old electrical outlet box on drywall isn’t too hard. But it can seem confusing if you don’t follow the steps correctly. To ease your pain, I have given step-by-step instructions below. 

Hopefully, you’ll be successful in replacing the electrical outlet. Here’s what you have to do: 

Step 1: Unscrew the Old Outlet 

The first step is to take the old electrical outlet from the box. And you must check if there’s any voltage with a voltage detector. Don’t operate when the power is running or else you’ll get electrocuted! 

As you are safe from the electrical power supply, it’s time to loosen up the screws. You’ll see the wires at the end. You have to trace the wires behind the walls.

There is hot, neutral, and ground wiring. Pull them out or if you want, chop them off. You don’t need these! 

This is how you finish the first step. The old electrical outlet is in your hands.

Here’s what you’ll do in the next step.  

Step 2: Carve the Perfect-Sized Hole 

It’s pretty common to have an oversized electrical outlet box. If your old outlet box and new box are of the same size, skip this step.

But suppose, your new outlet box is bigger and bulkier than the old one. If it’s the reason, it’s your time for some carving!

All you have to do is measure the size of the new box. Then, carve the drywall hole according to that measurement. For this, you can use a handheld Sawzall. It’ll save your time and make your work more efficient.

If you don’t have a good Sawzall, here is a table full of good recommendations. Check it out if you need a new Sawzall:

Battery Powered Electric SawzallCheck Current Price
Milwaukee 2621-20 M18 SawzallCheck Current Price

Slice the sides of the old box out and remove all the crusty bits. As everything’s nice and tidy, it’s time you move on to the next step.

Step 3: Place the New Outlet Box

It’s time to place the electrical outlet box! Take the existing wire and connect it with the box. You have to connect it behind the box. 

Then, carefully place it in the hole you have smoothened in the drywall. If you have carved it as per the right measurement, you’ll notice the box has aligned perfectly. Drill the box to the drywall to make it more secure. 

Bonus Step: Connect Additional Gauge Wire 

Here’s a bonus step. You can use an extra piece of gauge wire to secure the connection. But it’s not mandatory. You can skip this part if you want. 

For this, you’ll need a 12 by 2 gauge wire. Strip the wires and splice them open. Though you use a stripper to remove stripped screws or broken screw heads, here you’ll use it differently. You’ll take a stripper and cut only about half to three-quarters of the wires.

Keep one inch on the edge. Then, attach a wiggle connector at the end of each wire. Just insert the wire in through the connector and you’re good to go. Take these wires and attach them to the outlet box.      

Step 4: Insert the Outlet Inside the Box

You’ve reached the most important step. You have to screw in the new outlet now. Take a screwdriver and connect the wires with the outlet.

Insert the outlet carefully into the box. Make sure everything’s secured and tight. Then place an upgraded plat on top of the outlet. It will act as protection for your electrical outlet. 

Screw the sides tightly and check everything’s alright. That’s it. You’re done!

FAQs

Is it necessary for an outlet to be attached to a stud?

No, an outlet does not have to be attached to a stud. There is a special type of hardware that helps in this type of connection. It allows the electrical outlet or switches to fit without using a stud. And you have to do it after the initial construction has occurred.

Is it safe to replace an outlet?

No, it isn’t safe to replace an outlet if you are a novice. The first thing you have to ensure is that the outlet doesn’t have any power. If you don’t cut off the power supply, there’s a chance you’ll get electrocuted. So, it’s wise to take the help of an electrician to safely replace an outlet.  

How often should outlets be replaced?

The outlets should be replaced every 15 to 25 years. That’s the shell life of most GFCI outlets. But you’ll see outlets failing after 5 to 6 years. This is a random scenario when the outlet gets worn out faster. So, the main catch here is that you should change the outlet whenever it’s necessary.  

Final Thoughts

Finally, you got all the information you need. I guess replacing an electrical outlet is as smooth as butter for you now. Anybody asks, what is the way to replace an electrical outlet box on drywall? You know the answer!

Still, I have a small tip for you. If you don’t feel confident enough, contact a professional. Don’t do DIYs with electrical appliances unless you understand the basics. You should decide which way to go.

Best of luck!