How to Wire Basement Outlets. Do-It-Yourself Instructions

After Framing your basement you will be ready to add the basement wiring. Electrical wiring can be complicated but not beyond the skills of most do-it-yourself homeowners. This website will walk you through the basic steps to install outlets, lights and switches in your basement. Videos of outlet and switch wiring in your basement will also be available on our website.
See Video-How to Wire Basement Outlets

Steps to wire basement outlets, switches, lights and other electrical fixtures

  1. Plan Your Basement Wiring Project
  2. Basic Electrical Codes Relating To Basement Wiring
  3. Locate And Install Electrical Outlets
  4. Locate And Install Electrical Switches
  5. Locate And Install Ceiling Lights
  6. Locate And Install Smoke Detectors
  7. Run The Wire, Conduit or Cable Between The Boxes
  8. Run The Wiring Home Runs
  9. Wire The Basement Switches, Lights and Outlets
  10. Add A Circuit Breaker

Steps to Wire Basement Outlets.

Step 1. Plan your Basement Wiring.

Carefully plan out the locations of your outlets, switches and lights. Be sure to add enough lights to brighten each room as needed. Basements usually have few windows and may require more light than the rest of your house. When starting your basement wiring project you should install enough fixtures to meet your local code and then plan for any additional outlets, switches or lights as needed for your basement plan.

Turn off power to outlet at breaker panel. Insure that power has been turned off to both sockets by plugging in a lamp or using a test device in all sockets one at a time.

Remove the outlet cover plate

Remove the upper and lower screws that hold the outlet to the electrical box.

Pull forward on the outlet until it has cleared the box and the wires are extended.

The outlet should have the one of the following wiring configurations. 1. One black wire on the brass terminal on the side of the outlet (receptacle), one white wire on the silver terminal on the opposite side of the outlet (receptacle) and a bare copper wire connected to a green screw which is integral to the outlets (receptacles) mounting bracket. This wiring configuration indicates that you are at the last electrical outlet (receptacle) on this circuit (depending on the use of the outlet (receptacle) it may be the only outlet (receptacle) on the circuit. 2. Two black wires on the brass terminals (one on each terminal) on the side of the outlet (receptacle), two white wire on the silver terminals (one on each terminal) on the opposite side of the outlet (receptacle), * In all three cases a bare copper wire is connected to a green screw which is integral to the outlets (receptacles) mounting bracket. Ground wires can be connected in a variety of methods - there may be 2 copper wires on the ground terminal or the ground wires may be joined inside the electrical box. * Remove the wires from the terminals. * If there are other wires in the electrical box that are not connected to the outlet (receptacle) they should be inspected. Make sure that the wire coverings have not been damaged and check all wire nuts to make sure they are tight - tighten if necessary. * Install the wires on the new outlet (receptacle). Additional information on wire terminations. * It does not matter which of the black wires is connected to which of the two brass terminals as they are common to one another. Wrap the wire around the terminal screw in a clockwise direction. The insulation on the wire should meet up with the plastic body of the outlet (receptacle) and the end of the wire should not protrude past the body of the outlet (receptacle). * It does not matter which of the white wires is connected to which of the two silver terminals as they are common to one another. * Do not forget to connect the ground wire to the green terminal. * Bend the wires and push the outlet (receptacle) back into the box. Push the wires out of the way of the mounting screw holes. Failure to do this could cause the outlet (receptacle) mounting screws to push into the wire covering a cause a short circuit. You should be able to push the outlet (receptacle) into the box to the point where the mounting frame touches the electrical box. Do not use the screws that mount the outlet (receptacle) to the electrical box to draw the outlet (receptacle) into the electrical box as this could break the plastic housing on the outlet (receptacle). * Screw the outlet (receptacle) frame, loosely, to the electrical box. If you are in a high rise building your electrical boxes may be connected using conduit. If the conduit comes into the electrical box at the top or bottom, it may be necessary to cut the length of the mounting screws so that they do not hit the conduit holding nut on the inside of the box. As an alternative you can use the mounting screws from the outlet (receptacle) that you removed. Visually inspect the inside of the box to ensure that the screws are not applying pressure to any wires. Align the outlet (receptacle) so that it is perfectly vertical and tighten the mounting screws. * Install the outlet (receptacle) cover plate. * Turn the breaker back to the "on" position in the electrical panel.

This page "HOW TO WIRE BASEMENT OUTLETS" is part of the website. More detailed information on how to finish a basement can be found at our website.

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