See How To Change A Plug Socket On Your Own In Simple Steps

Do you want to replace an old socket to modernise your house? Or maybe you need to change a scorched or damaged socket! You’ll be happy to know that replacing a plug socket doesn’t require an electrician and can be done by most DIY enthusiasts!

A male hand pulling an electrical cord plugged into a wall socket

Electrical outlets and sockets are essential, and as a homeowner, you have to be sure they are in working order. Replacing a socket is similar to changing a light switch. Fear not! There’s nothing complex or scary about it. Read below to find everything you need to know about the safety checks and the electrical installation of a plug socket!

Planning & preparation

Before you start with your DIY project, there are some things you should know. Keep on reading to know all the basic information about plug sockets.

The two main types of sockets

These days, electrical sockets can be flush-mounted or surface. Keep in mind that different socket designs may have different fitting requirements, and it’s always best to check the manufacturer’s instructions.

  1. Flush-mounted sockets look more modern, and since they don’t stick out of the wall so much, they are less prone to accidental damage. They are available in a range of sizes, finishes and colours. Some more modern designs also feature USB ports and Wi-Fi extenders. A USB socket is just as safe as any other electrical socket. However, you must never take risks with electrical safety. You should only purchase a reputable brand, making sure it has a BSI kitemark and CE logo.
  2. The traditional surface-mounted white box sockets are easier to fit. All you need to do is screw the box to the wall, with the cable run in and the plate attached. 

Staying safe

Electrical work can prove dangerous, so be sure to always follow instructions and work on your electrics only when they have been turned off and isolated at the fuse box(consumer unit). Don’t take risks with electrical safety. Here are all the safety precautions you should follow:

  1. Switch off the main power at the circuit panel. 
  2. Remove the circuit fuse to isolate the circuit you plan to work on. To avoid accidental replacement, put this in your pocket.
  3. You may also switch off the breaker and lock it if you can.
  4. Attach a note to the unit to advise other people around that you are working on the circuit.
  5. Use a tester, multimeter or voltage tester/meter for lighting circuits to check the circuit is dead. All homes should be fitted with a fixed RCD (Residual Current Device) as they offer the highest level of protection.
  6. If your cable doesn’t reach the socket’s terminals without straining, don’t pull it. Use a terminal block or specially designed crimp to attach a new short length of cable. 
  7. For your safety, all products must be installed following local building regulations. In case of any doubt, consult a competent person registered with an electrical certification scheme or find further information online or from your local authority.

close up to hand switching off main power

Wiring safety

Before you fit a socket, always check the manufacturer’s instructions, as some models could have different fitting requirements. However, as a general rule, if your wall cable doesn’t reach the socket’s terminals without straining, never pull it. In that case, contact a qualified electrician. Keep in mind that plugged sockets may have more wires attached to them than those you find connected to a light switch.

Is your wiring after or pre-2004?

If the wiring in your house is pre-2004, you’ll find these connectors inside:

  • (L) Live = Red
  • (N) Neutral = Black
  • (E) Earth = Green and Yellow

If the wiring is after 2004, you’ll find these wires:

  • (L) Live = Brown
  • (N) Neutral = Blue
  • (E) Earth = Green and Yellow

Step-by-step guide: How to replace a damaged socket

You are now ready to change your old plug socket. Follow our step-by-step guide to get it done easily and safely. If you have any further doubts or queries, then it’s best to contact an electrician.

What you’ll need

  • Insulated screwdriver
  • Voltage indicator or multimeter
  • Pipe and cable detector
  • Hammer action drill with masonry bits
  • Wire strippers
  • New double socket
  • Wall plugs and screws
  • Green / yellow sleeving(if required)

Insulation tapes, electric cables insulated, screwdrivers, nippers in construction concept.

Step 1

Locate your fuse box and identify the circuit you’ll be working on. When you do, isolate the circuit by removing the fuse or flicking the micro-circuit breakers to the OFF position.

Step 2

Use a tester to check that the socket is no longer live. You may also double-check by plugging in a lamp before isolating your circuit. If the light has gone off, you are free to continue. 

Step 3

Using a screw, remove the retaining screws and gently manoeuvre the socket’s front to reveal the wiring.

Step 4

You must replace the wires like-for-like no matter if you have single, double or triple wiring.

Step 5

After you loosen the screws, free the wires and put the old socket to one side.

Step 6

If any of these wires are frayed, leave 5 mm of wire clear using side cutters and electrical wire strippers.

Step 7

Cover bare earth wires with green or yellow sleeving.

Step 8

The metal boxes should be earthed, so run a short length of earth cable between the backbox’s earth terminals and the faceplate. Keep in mind that the order and positioning of the Live, Neutral and Earth terminals on your socket may be different from the old one. That’s why it is essential to check the terminal labels on the socket carefully.

The hands of an electrician installing a power socket

Step 9

Ensure that the socket’s terminal screws are open. Then, connect the brown or red wiring to the Live terminal, ensuring no bare wire is visible and that the connection is secure.

Step 10

Repeat the same process connecting the blue or black wiring to the Neutral terminal and the green & yellow wiring to the Earth terminal.

Step 11

Tighten the terminal screws so that they are firmly fixed but keep them not over-tightened.

Step 12

Carefully take the faceplate back into position, making sure that wiring is not trapped or caught.

Step 13

Reattach your plate with the retaining screws. Use a spirit level to check it is level and make sure not to over-tighten it.

Step 14

Replace your fuse board and restore the power at the consumer unit.

Step 15

Using the tester, make sure the unit is correctly wired and functioning.

Socket tester showing socket working correctly

How to replace your single flush socket with a double socket

If you have a flush-mounted socket, it’s easy to replace it with a surface-mounted dual socket. Now, there are 2 ways to manage this. You can either get a socket conversion box or use a standard double socket, drill and plug the wall. Keep in mind that if you want your socket to be flush-mounted, you will need to take out the old box and make a bigger recess for a new one. Below are all the steps you need to follow.

Step 1

The first thing you need to do is to isolate the circuit. Using a socket tester, double-check that it’s dead. Then unscrew the faceplate with a pry bar or pliers and disconnect the cables from the single socket mounting box’s terminals. If you find the earth core exposed, run yellow/green sleeving over it.

Step 2

Remove the knockout in the new surface receptacle box and then pass the cables through. Mark the fixing holes on the wall with a pencil. Then, take away the box, check for any hidden wires or pipes, and drill and plug the wall behind.

Step 3

You can now screw your new box in place and connect the cables to the terminals. Complete your project by fitting the new plate, and check it’s correctly wired using the tester.

Plugging in a United Kingdom ( British) three pin fused plug into a double wall socket

How to fit a flush-mounted socket to a solid wall

When you want to include a flush-mounted socket to a solid wall, you must cut a recess into the plaster and the masonry behind it. Below is a step-by-step guide to help you out.

What you’ll need:

  • Screwdriver
  • Socket tester
  • New wall socket & recess back box 
  • Goggles 
  • Pipe and cable detector
  • Club hammer and bolster
  • Dustpan and brush
  • Pencil
  • Masking tape (if your drill doesn’t have a depth stop)
  • Wall plugs and roundhead screws
  • Wire strippers
  • Small spirit level
  • Hammer action drill with a masonry drill bit

Step 1

Test for any hidden pipes and electrical cables using your pipe and cable detector.

Step 2

Isolate the relevant circuit at your circuit panel and sure the circuit is dead.

Step 3

Having your new socket box, a pencil and a level ready, hold up your mounting box in the position you want and get it even using the level. Then draw around the box on the wall.

Step 4

Take your hammer action drill with a masonry drill bit and make some holes within the outline slightly greater than the mounting box’s depth. If you don’t have a drill with a depth stop, you can wrap some masking tape around the bit to know where to stop.

Step 5

Take a bolster and club hammer and start chipping out the masonry and plaster, cutting down to the depth of the holes you drilled before.

Step 6

With a dustpan and brush, clear away all the plaster debris and check how the box fits.

Step 7

Hold the box in place and mark the position with your pencil. Then, drill the holes and put in your wall plugs.

Step 8

Remove the knockout access holes carefully and insert the proactive grommet. Then, insert the cable through the access hole.

Step 9

Make the final connections as we explained above.

Step 10

Fit your faceplate.

Step 11

Go back to the circuit panel and switch the power back on. Test it to ensure electrical safety.

electric socket and wires on brick and cement wall outside the house

How to fit your flush-mounted socket in a stud wall

The easiest way to flush-mount a socket into a stud wall is with a cavity fixing box. This box sits against the wall’s face and has either rotating or spring-loaded lugs that press against the plasterboard‘s back.

What you’ll need:

  • New socket with cavity fixing box
  • Stud detector or hammer
  • Pencil
  • Spirit level
  • Screwdriver
  • Pad saw, or plasterboard saw
  • Socket tester

Step 1

Use a stud detector to check for where the studs are. If you don’t have one, tap the wall gently with a hammer handle and listen for the sound to change when you tap over the framework.

Step 2

Check the area is free of any hidden cables or pipes with your thread and pipe detector.

Step 3

Isolate the relevant circuit at your fuse box and make sure the circuit is dead.

Step 4

Holding the cavity fixing box in the place you want it, use a level to keep it level and draw around the box in pencil.

Step 5

To provide a guide for your plasterboard saw blade or pad saw, get your screw to push and twist it through the wall inside the pencil outline at diagonally opposite corners. 

Step 6

Start the saw at one of the holes and, following the box outline, cut out the shape.

Step 7

Push the box in if it fits snugly in the hole, feeding your cable through the opening.

Step 8

Turn or push in the securing lugs to grip the plasterboard’s rear side firmly.

Step 9

Connect the wires and fit your new plug socket.

Step 10

Go back to your circuit panel and switch the power back on. It’s important to take proper testing to ensure safety. And that’s all!

close up to hand switching on power is circuit box

Is safety a priority in your house? Then, you should change any ruined socket as soon as possible. You may also want to increase the style in your home or just change your decoration. You can always leave the job to a professional electrician or an electrical handyman service, but this is a DIY project you can manage yourself! All you need to do is to follow our instructions and step-by-step guide. The result will be a brand new socket connected and working safely before you even know it! And one last tip; If you want peace of mind over the smooth-running of your electrical appliances, you can take a look at appliance insurance for any future unfortunate damages. 

Scroll to Top
Send this to a friend