If you’re like many Michigan homeowners with old outlets in your home, you may need to install GFCI outlets. This is a quick run-down on how to do it yourself – but if you feel uncomfortable with any step in the process, you absolutely need to hire a professional electrician to do it for you.

How to Install GFCI Outlets in Your Home

You need:

  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Flashlight
  • A new GFCI outlet
  • A new GFCI outlet cover

Follow these steps to install GFCI outlets.

  1. Shut off the power to the outlet by turning off the circuit breaker. To make sure you have shut off the power, plug in a nightlight or alarm clock and turn it on. Then, turn off the breaker. If the nightlight or alarm clock doesn’t shut off, you have flipped the wrong breaker switch, so go back and try again.
  2. Have someone hold a flashlight for you so you can see what you’re doing.
  3. Remove the outlet cover.
  4. Remove the old outlet from the outlet box. Usually, you’ll see two screws at the top and two at the bottom. When you unscrew those, the outlet will hang by its wires.
  5. Remove the three wires attaching the outlet. Keep track of the color of the screws and the color of the wires, because you need to put them back the same way for the outlet to work.

    A black wire, which is considered a “hot” wire, connects to a brass-colored or gold-colored screw.

    A white wire, which is considered a “neutral” wire, connects to a silver screw.

    A green or copper wire, which is a ground wire, connects at the bottom of the outlet to a green screw.

  6. Attach your new GFCI outlet just like the wires were attached to the old one. You absolutely must make sure the wires attach to the screws they belong with, which is listed in Step 5.

    NOTE: On a GFCI outlet, you’ll see two screws at the bottom which are covered in tape. Do not touch the tape. Leave it in place. That’s only there for electricians who are doing special projects.

  7. Use the outer screws to fasten the new GFCI outlet in place.
  8. Put on your new outlet cover. You can’t use the old outlet cover with a GFCI outlet.

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