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How to Insulate Your Electrical Outlets and Switch plates

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How to Insulate Your Electrical Outlets and Switch plates

Many people know they pay too much in energy bills each month but aren’t sure what to do about it other than shell out thousands of dollars for new windows. There are some small things you can do to help stop the financial bleeding however. One of them is to insulate your electrical outlets.

How do you know if you even need to do this trick? You can check this yourself pretty easily. It’s best when tested on a cold windy evening. Hold a candle next to the outlet. Any cold air blowing in from outside would cause the candle’s flame to flicker and dance around. Any smoke being generated would also start blowing so you can see the movement. Of course you could also have big air leaks in your windows if you haven’t properly insulated them, but if you’ve done that step already and have the candle flame closer to the outlet than to a window you can be pretty sure the draft is coming through those electrical switches.

If this happens to you, there’s good news.

 Insulating your outlets takes very little money and almost no time. You can purchase foam covers, called foam gaskets, for mere pennies and they are easy to install. Simply unscrew the outlet cover exposing just the outlet and the gaping holes around it. The foam cover looks like the outlet cover so you just slip it over the outlet and then cover it with the actually outlet cover. Screw it back on and then move onto the next one. If you have a large home you’ll take some time doing this to each one, but it will be well worth it. Not only will you be more comfortable and feel less draft in your home, but you’ll spend less money on heating and cooling bills. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Although it is not recommended for anyone

 But a licensed electrician to install a new electrical outlet, it is a relatively simple task whenever you have the proper tools and take the proper safety precautions. That being said, this is a task that should only be performed by a highly trained and licensed electrician. These professionals undergo extensive education and training to ensure that all jobs are performed with the utmost safety, quality and adherence to local building codes. If you choose to do this on your own, you run the risk of exposing your home to unnecessary shock and fire damages. Furthermore, if anything falls out of line with local decorative bolts, your home can be difficult or impossible to fix until the wiring is brought up to standard.

Whenever you or your electrician starts the process of installing a new outlet,

The first step is to always turn the power off to the outlet that you are replacing at the breaker. If you do not know which breaker powers the outlet that you are targeting, you will need to turn each breaker off until you determine which is responsible for that outlet. Once you have done so, you can start working on the outlet.

After the breaker has been shut off, remove the front plate of your outlet. This will expose the outlet, allowing you to unscrew it and pull it out of the wall box. If your outlet is grounded to the main electrical service, it will have three wires. If it is ungrounded, it will only have two. These wires are typically white and black. If you have an older home, this may be different. Older wiring can be unsafe, and often requires replacement by a trained professional.

Take close note of where each wire is on the current outlet before removing them.

The white wire should be the neutral wire, and the black wire is the hot wire. Most new outlets clearly mark where each wire goes on the back or side of the outlet, making the installation of the new outlet fairly easy. After connecting the wires, double-check their tightness to ensure a proper fit. You can then slide the outlet back into the box and attach it firmly with screws. Place your cover plate back onto the outlet and turn on your breaker panel. If everything works fine, then you have successfully replaced the outlet. If your breaker panel trips, then you have probably shorted or improperly wired your electrical outlet.

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