How to Replace an Electrical Plug Socket (UK)

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Replacing a damaged or faulty electrical socket outlet should be a fairly straightforward task, but if you aren’t completely confident in your ability then use the services of a qualified electrician.

Beware – electricity can kill so make sure you’ve switched off the power going to the socket before doing this job.

I always switch off the consumer unit and remove the appropriate circuit fuse / miniature circuit breaker. This reduces the risk of electrocution should the consumer unit be switched on again by accident.

Related: Different Types of Fuse Ratings in Plugs

Check that there is no voltage present at the socket using preferably electricians test lamps, socket tester or a test meter. These are available from most DIY stores or electrical wholesalers at a reasonable cost (always handy to have around the home if only to check fuses etc).

Unscrew the two 3.5mm fixing screws that hold the socket in place. If the socket won’t come free you may have to score around its edges with a sharp knife to cut through any paint or wallpaper and it should come loose.

When you pull the old socket away from the wall, take note of the connections on the back of the socket and the colours of the conductors. Use your smartphone to grab a photo.

Connections (Old colours )

Wire colours on old electrical power sockets

  • RED (live) – connects to the ‘L’ connection
  • Black (neutral) – connect to ‘N’ connection
  • Green (earth) – connect to ‘E’ connection

Wire colours on old electrical power sockets

  • BROWN (live) – connects to the ‘L’ connection
  • BLUE (neutral) – connect to ‘N’ connection
  • Green (earth) – connect to ‘E’ connection

If the socket has a metal back box then this should also have a G/EARTH wire connected to it.

Disconnect the conductors from the damaged / faulty socket and reconnect to the replacement one. Take care that you have connected the right conductor in the correct L, N, or E connection as not all sockets necessarily have the same connection in the same position ( i.e. the L connection on the new socket could be where the N connection was on the old one ).

When you are satisfied the connections are correct and tight, re-fix the socket using the two new 3.5mm screws that come with the new socket. If they are not long enough, use the old ones.

Replace the circuit fuse / miniature circuit breaker in the consumer unit and switch it on so you can check it’s working correctly.

There are various socket testers available on the market, although they don’t give you test results like you would get from an electrician, they do indicate that the socket being tested is connected correctly and has an earth present, which is obviously very important.

You simply plug it in and indicator lights on the front will tell you if everything is ok.

New socket and socket tester
New socket and socket tester

Tools required

  • Electricians test lamps
  • Medium straight screwdriver
  • Side cutters (snips)
  • Wire strippers
  • Pliers
  • Utility knife