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Video:How to Wire Split Outlets

with Steve Fraasa

Learn how to wire split outlets so that you can fix your outlets without having to call in an electrician. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to wire split outlets.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Wire Split Outlets

Hello, my name is Steve Fraasa for About.com. Today we are going to show you how to wire a split outlet.

Turn Off the Circuit to Wire a Split Outlet

The first thing you have to do is find your circuit breaker and turn off the circuit that controls that switch and receptacle. Once you turn the circuit breaker off, return to the receptacle you are going to change, using a standard volt meter, check to insure that there is no voltage on this circuit.

The receptacle is controlled by the switch will have two hot wires running to it. One is continuous power and the other is the switch leg. The red wire is the switch leg.

Before you begin wiring your receptacle, you'll need to break the bridge that connects the two terminals on the hot side of the receptacle. The hot wires are connected to the gold colored screws. Using a pair of needle nose pliers, grab the bridge that connects the two posts and bend it forward and backward until you separate it and have independent control of both sides of the duplex receptacle.

Connect the Wires to the Receptacle to Wire a Split Outlet

The next thing you want to do is connect the wires to your receptacle. Starting with the ground wire create a loop in a clockwise direction so when you insert it over the ground screw it will tighten the loop rather than loosening it.

Next you will want to connect the neutral wire. You connect that to the silver terminal on the opposite side, again creating a clockwise loop, slip it over the silver terminal (the silver screw) and then close the gap with a pair of needle nose pliers and tighten it securely.

You do not have to remove the bridge, as you see here, because it is a common wire so you don't have to separate it as you did the hot wires. You'll see on the backside there are holes that you can actually insert a 14-gauge wire into the hole, making it easier to make a connection, but it is not considered as secure as putting it on the terminal itself.

Connect to Your Terminal Posts to Wire a Split Outlet

Now you can make the connections to your terminal posts on the hot side of the receptacle where you separated them. Connect the red wire, which in our case was the switch leg, and then to the terminal above you connect your black wire.

So now, the switch circuit will be on the bottom and the top part of the duplex receptacle will be controlled continuously by the black hotwire. As you did on the other side, tighten both hot wire terminals securely and you are ready now to put the receptacle back in the wall.

Turn On the Circuits to Wire a Split Outlet

Go back to the circuit panel, turn on the breaker, come back and test the receptacle to insure that you have wired it correctly. If the wall switch is off, you insert your probes into the lower part of the duplex plug and it should read zero voltage.

When the switch is on, you should be getting full voltage which you can see here is 120 volts and if we test the upper plug it should read continuous whether the switch is on or off as you can see here it is hot. Now, all you have to cover it up and your project is complete.

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