Guide to Replacing an Outdoor GFCI Outlet

Two cords plugged into a shabby exterior outlet | Construction Pro Tip
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Here's the problem:

This receptacle outlet is not flush with the building finish surface; it is not GFCI-protected, and there is no weather-proof cover. On the pages below, we’ll show you an inexpensive fix that can be completed in minutes.  Always turn off the power to the outlet before starting any repairs!

New pigtails and connectors poking out of outlet cavity | Construction Pro Tip
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Install new pigtails and connectors 

It’s a good idea to replace the old existing wire connectors in the receptacle box and install new pigtails.

Blue outlet box thing | Construction Pro Tip
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Electrical Box Hack

This is a great tip for making your own box-extension out of a single-gang PVC outlet box. Start by removing the nails or screws from the box along with any plastic ears or tabs that stick out. Shave them off flush to the box with a utility knife, multitool, or hacksaw. Next, insert a couple pieces of copper wire to line into the screw-holes on the new box so they protrude out from the box and inch or so. Use these wires to line up the face of the new box with the face of the old buried box.  

Sharpie resting on temporary outlet box | Construction Pro Tip
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Mark the box

While the box is in place, trace around the box with a marker using the wall as a guide. This will be your reference line of where you need to cut the box.  

Cutting an electrical box with a hack saw | Construction Pro Tip
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Cut the box

Cut the box in two at the line. Fit it over the old box and trim if needed. 

Connecting the GFCI | Construction Pro Tip
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Connect the GFCI (Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter)

Make sure the receptacle matches the same amperage as the circuit breaker in the box. Then connect the:

  • Bare copper wire to the green grounding terminal
  • White wire to the silver (nickel) colored terminal
  • Black wire to the brass colored terminal

Be sure to use the LINE terminals on the GFCI receptacle (not the LOAD terminals) 

Bare outlet in a stucco wall | Construction Pro Tips
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Secure the receptacle

Discard the short 6-32 flathead machine screws that came with the new GFCI receptacle. Instead, use new 2-inch long 6-32 flathead machine screws to fasten the new GFCI receptacle and the blue box extender to the existing receptacle box. 

Installing the cover on an outdoor outlet | Construction Pro Tips
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Install the cover

Install a proper “in-use” heavy-duty weatherproof receptacle cover, turn on the power, and check your work with a receptacle tester. Remove the plastic slide/tab from the bottom of the in-use cover to allow for the cover to be closed when an extension cord is being used.That’s it. Turn on the power and you’re good to go!

Like this story? Check out our guide to installing an electrical outlet anywhere.