Do I Need an Electrician To Move an Outlet?

Most electrical outlets last between 10-25 years, but they don’t last forever. Badly installed or problematic outlets can need replacement in just a few years. During renovation projects, it’s not uncommon to move an outlet.

Electrical work is rarely simple. And without electrical experience, it can be dangerous. You can install or move an outlet in your home if:

  • You have electrical training.
  • You understand your home’s circuitry.
  • You have the necessary tools and hardware.
  • You have very good medical and life insurance.

Understanding the basics will explain why you need an electrician to install or move an outlet.

What You Need To Know To Move an Outlet

A local electrician can usually relocate an outlet in about 40 minutes. To DIY (do-it-yourself) move an outlet, you need a lot more time. You’ll also need:

  • 14-2 Romex cable for an indoor outlet in a dry location
  • Blank outlet cover
  • Drill
  • Keyhole- or drywall-saw
  • Micro-ohmmeter
  • Outlet box w/swing-out mounting tabs
  • Outlet cover
  • Pencil
  • Screwdriver
  • Voltmeter
  • Wire cutters/strippers
  • Wire nuts
  • Wiring/cable with corrosion-resistant jacket (PVC is recommended) and wet-location rated conductors for outlets near showers/toilets

Some wires can’t be moved. Or the wiring may be fine but it’s too short for the new location. One of the biggest mistakes DIYers make is leaving old wiring behind a wall in a messy tangle. Always removed old wiring, even if it’s “dead to you.”

How To Identify Unsafe Outlet Wiring

Age is one way to determine if wiring is unsafe. Homes built in the 1930s vs. homes in the ’60s, ’80s… Just as technology evolves, electrical standards and practices change with time.

Something to look for when moving an electrical outlet is “backstabbing.” It’s a problem you don’t want to repeat. Backstabbing is when neutral wires’ ends are cut, and the insulation removed. The bare wires are then shoved into the back of the outlet.

Backstabbing electrical wires was commonplace in the 1970s and ’80s, but it’s a fire hazard and no longer used by professional electricians. Additional problematic home outlet wiring we encounter includes:

  • Knob and tube – This is the oldest home wiring and is often found in homes built before 1940. There’s usually a dirt buildup that makes it difficult to tell the difference between neutral and hot wires, and it’s likely ungrounded. This must be removed, not relocated.
  • Leaded sheathed – Homes built before 1950 may have lead-covered electrical wiring. It must be removed, not relocated.
  • Rubber-sheathed wiring – Rubber-insulated wiring was used in homes between 1950-1980. It crumbles and can be an arcing/fire hazard. If your home has this type of wiring, you should have annual electrical inspections. For remodeling purposes, it must be removed, not relocated.

Completing the Project: Moving an Electrical Outlet

The area to which your outlet is to be relocated must be carefully prepared. You must mark where you want the outlet installed and use the proper tools for cutting or positioning.

The final process for moving your outlet is to feed the wire through the wall mount. Snugly affix Phillips screws in each corner, then:

  1. Connect the wire to the outlet’s receptacle.
    • Black wire connects to the hot screw.
    • Copper wire connects to the ground screw.
    • White wire connects to the neutral screw.
  2. Secure the outlet in the cut-in box then install the cover plate.
  3. Screw a blank plate into the old electrical outlet.

Why You Need a Licensed, Phoenix Electrician

Arizona people value time and money. There are numerous internet DIY videos and processes, but the reality is, you need an electrician for electrical work.

  • TIO Electric is LEEDS-certified and State of Arizona-licensed.
  • You’ll save money if we find a potential or current problem. We can fix it now rather than return later and avoid another call-out charge.
  • We know Valley electrical codes and energy requirements inside out.
  • We understand your home’s electrical system and ways to safety-check every project. This includes knowing what kind of electrical load your home can handle.

We want you to know more about your home’s electrical system. When you know more, you’ll know to contact Turn It On Electric for electrical upgrades.

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