Installing Recessed Outlets

I finally dragged myself to the hardware store to pick up some of the items I needed for all the little electrical finishing. Then I promptly bought half the wrong stuff.

Of course.

The world would end if I only had to make one trip to the hardware store for a project. End.

But I could do at least one project. After painting the family room wall, I still had to replace the outlet covers and I wanted all the outlets and covers to be white (instead of a random mix of ivory and white).

I found a recessed outlet that would be perfect to go behind a bookcase that will go on this wall. I never even knew these existed until I saw them in the store but how handy to have these behind furniture instead of the plug poking out.

You don’t need a lot for this little project. I had my favorite screwdriver, pliers, and my voltage tester.

The voltage tester tests for two different voltages. I admit, I’m not entirely sure which one is found where so I always test for both. One voltage is represented with a blue light, the other voltage is a green light. On my voltage tester, you just hold down the power button to switch between the two.


Shut off the power at your electrical panel. Use the voltage tester even if you are pretty sure you got the power off to whatever you are working on. Electrics (or electriks if you are reading a steam punk book like I am) can be wired weird. I have one appliance in my kitchen on a different breaker than everything else in the room. So always test.

If you have a different voltage tester, be sure to read your instructions. Mine just needs to be pointed at the power source and it will flash red if it is live (as in you did not shut off the right thing). I just pointed this at my laptop and got a “hot” reading.


Once you have verified the power is off, you can start pulling out wires. I was glad to see all the bits on the old outlet matched all the bits on the new outlet so it would be easy to swap out.

The screws don’t come all the way out, you just loosen them until you can unhook the wire from around the base of the screw.

I cannot emphasize enough how helpful it is to take pictures of the outlet and wires before you remove anything. No matter how careful I am, the wires get moved around a little so there is that, “Wait, was that on top or in the middle?” moment.

Hook the wires around the screw in the direction they are turned to be tightened so that they kind of grip the wire. It’s much easier than hooking it in the other direction.

Once it is all on, I turn the power back on first to make sure I did it right and everything works before I cram it all back in the wall. That is surprisingly hard.

Outlet changed! A little project that took about 20 minutes and it’s cheap! Standard outlets are less than $2, the face plates are less than $1, the recessed outlet did cost about $6 so it was the “expensive” part in this project.

Tricky projects, like this phone plug on the same wall, where there is no box in the wall for the face plate to screw into and the hole is so large, the screws don’t even have drywall to grip, have a pretty simple solution too…

Double sticky tape. Sometimes, you just don’t need to over think things.

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