Old plug sockets can really let down the appearance of your home but replacing them with some of the latest examples on the market can make a huge difference. USB wall sockets in particular are becoming increasingly popular due to the large amount of USB-powered devices and they are also an easy way to modernise your home.
Before attempting to change a plug socket, it’s crucial that you take safety precautions. In terms of changing sockets, you will want to know where your consumer unit is and be able to isolate the circuit that you are working on. We also strongly recommend investing in a socket tester for confirmation that the socket is off and for testing after the socket is changed.
Below we walk you through what’s involved with changing a plug socket with photos at each stage.
How To Change A Plug Socket
1. Isolate The Circuit
Before attempting to change a plug socket, it’s vital that you isolate the circuit. To do this, plug in a socket tester so that it outputs a sound because this is confirmation that the socket is still live. You can then go to your consumer unit and turn off the circuit, which should stop the sound coming from the socket tester. If you have turned off the circuit but the socket tester is still on, this would suggest that you may have turned off the wrong circuit.
2. Remove The Old Plug Socket
Now that the circuit has been isolated, you can proceed to remove the old plug socket faceplate from the wall. To do this, simply use a screwdriver to remove the two screws on each end of the faceplate to reveal the wiring.
3. Loosen The Terminal Screws
With the plug socket faceplate pulled away from the wall, you can now access the terminal screws at the back of the socket. Using a screwdriver, loosen the terminal screws and pull the wiring away from the socket.
4. Prepare Wires For New Plug Socket
Depending upon whether any of the wires are frayed, you may need to strip them to leave at least 5mm of wire clear as shown in the image below. You’ll also need to cover any bare earth wires with the appropriate sleeve.
5. Wire The New Socket Into The Terminals
With the wires prepared and ready to be wired into the socket, you’ll first want to check the positioning of the Live, Neutral and Earth terminals of the new socket. Whilst in position, you can begin to wire the plug socket starting with the brown (or red) wiring into the Live terminal. After, proceed to connect the blue (or black) wiring into the Neutral terminal and then the green/yellow wiring into the Earth terminal. It’s important to note that you’ll need to open the terminals of the new socket beforehand too.
6. Tighten The Terminals
Now that all of the wiring is secured in the correct terminals, you can begin to tighten the terminal screws to firmly fix the wiring in place.
7. Reattach The Plug Socket Faceplate
With the wiring secured, you can now place the faceplate into position on the wall and reattach the two screws holding it in place. To ensure that the faceplate is level, use a spirit level and tighten the screws accordingly.
8. Turn The Circuit On At The Consumer Unit
Once you are happy with the fitment of the socket, you can proceed to turn the circuit on at the consumer unit. If you need to readjust the socket, switch off the consumer unit beforehand for peace of mind.
9. Test The Socket
Now for the moment of truth, you can test the socket to see if it’s working and safe to use. As you can see from our video below, you can simply plug in a socket tester and check the results are all green/safe to use.
How To Change A Single Plug Socket To A Double
If you want to change a single plug socket to a double socket, it can be done with ease but there are additional steps required. Depending upon whether or not you want a flush wall socket will determine the difficulty.
Below we show you how to do it by tackling the hardest of conversions that involve changing a single socket to a double flush socket in a solid wall.
1. Isolate The Circuit & Remove The Single Socket
As with any plug socket work, you must isolate the circuit before starting and you can do this at the consumer unit by turning the circuit off. Once switched off, test that the socket is off using a socket tester and proceed to remove the socket as discussed in steps 2 to 4 in the above guide.
2. Mark Out The Wall Using A Double Socket Back Box
With the single socket removed, use a double socket back box and draw an approximate outline around it. This outline will be used as a guide for chopping out a section in the wall to put the back box and socket into.
3. Chop Out The Space Required For The Double Socket Back Box
Depending upon your personal preference, there are two methods by which you can chop out the space required for the socket in the wall. The first method that we used is to use an SDS hammer drill with a masonry bit (as shown in the photo). Alternatively, you can drill holes into the wall and then use a bolster and club hammer to chop it out.
4. Remove Any Debris
Before placing the back box into the space you’ve created in the wall, remove any debris beforehand to give you a more precise fit. If the back box doesn’t fit, you’ll need to chop more of the wall out so that it does.
5. Securely Fit The Back Box
Once you are happy that the back box can securely fit inside the wall, you can begin to securely fix it. You’ll want to drill and plug the holes and also cut a channel for the cables to pass through the box as shown in the image below.
6. Install the Plug Socket Faceplate
With the back box securely in place and the wires threaded through it, you can begin to install the double plug socket. To do this, follow steps 4 to 7 in the above guide.
7. Test The Double Socket
After the socket has been secured, you can turn on the circuit at the consumer unit and use a socket tester to perform the tests. As long as the socket tester confirms everything is safe, you’ve now completed the conversion.
8. Touch Up Repairs
Depending on how accurate you were with the hammer drill or chisel, you may need to repair the wall surrounding the socket. In this particular example, we used a decorator’s filler around the socket and once it had dried, we painted over the filler using the matching emulsion paint of the wall. It’s also worth pointing out that before you carry out any decorating work, you’ll want to use masking tape to avoid filler or paint going on your brand new sockets.
Changing a plug socket is a DIY task that anyone can do but it’s crucial that you take the appropriate safety precautions. Hopefully our guide to changing a plug socket encourages you to give it a go before calling an electrician. However, if you need any assistance, feel free to contact us and we can help out where possible.