How To Change A Plug Socket

Whether you need to replace a faulty plug socket or want to upgrade to a USB alternative, our step-by-step guide shows you how to change it.
Written By: Richard Morgan | Updated:
How To Change A Plug Socket
Richard Morgan/DIY Works

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 number 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.

To give you an idea of what is involved in changing a plug socket, below is a step-by-step guide with photos at each stage.

How To Change A Plug Socket


1. Isolate The Circuit

Before attempting to change a plug socket, you must 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 turn off the circuit to your consumer unit, 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, use a screwdriver to remove the two screws on each end of the faceplate to reveal the wiring.

how to change a plug socket uk

Richard Morgan/DIY Works

3. Loosen The Terminal Screws

With the plug socket’s 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.

Changing Plug Socket

Richard Morgan/DIY Works

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.

Plug Socket Wiring

Richard Morgan/DIY Works

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.

how to wire a plug socket

Richard Morgan/DIY Works

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 fix the wiring in place firmly.

how to wire a socket

Richard Morgan/DIY Works

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.

how to change a plug socket faceplate

Richard Morgan/DIY Works

8. Turn The Circuit On At The Consumer Unit

Once you are happy with the socket’s fit, you can 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 shown in our video below, you can plug in a socket tester and check that 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 easily, but additional steps are required, and the difficulty will depend on whether or not you want a flush wall socket.

To give you an idea of what’s involved, we walk you through how to tackle the hardest of conversions, which is 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. Our preferred method is to use an SDS hammer drill with a masonry bit (as shown in the photo), but 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.

How To Change A Single Plug Socket To A Double

Richard Morgan/DIY Works

5. Securely Fit The Back Box

Once you are happy that the back box can fit inside the wall securely, you can begin to 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.

single to double socket

Richard Morgan/DIY Works

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 securing the socket, 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 have completed the conversion.

8. Touch Up Repairs

Depending on your accuracy 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.

Conclusion

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.

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