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How To Test Electrical Outlet Wiring


As a homeowner in North Providence, Rhode Island, it can be daunting to think about the day-to-day maintenance tasks that come with owning a property. From mowing the lawn to fixing leaky faucets, the list of responsibilities seems endless. However, one area of maintenance that should not be overlooked is the electrical system of your home.

Electrical issues can not only be a nuisance but also pose serious safety risks. That is why it is essential for homeowners to have a basic understanding of their home’s electrical system and how to test it, especially the outlets. In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to test electrical outlet wiring, with the help of B&K Electric, a family-owned and operated electrical business based in Warwick, RI.

Before we delve into the details, let’s get to know B&K Electric a little better. For over seventeen years, B&K Electric has been proudly serving the residents of Cranston, Warwick, and all of Rhode Island. As a family-owned business rooted in community and customer service, B&K Electric is dedicated to providing top-quality electrical repair, panel maintenance, and installation services to their clients. Make B&K Electric your go-to electrician for your home or business in the Warwick area and the greater Providence Area.

Now, let’s get into how you can test your electrical outlet wiring to ensure your home’s safety and functionality.

Step 1: Prepare for Testing

Before you begin, make sure to gather all the necessary tools and equipment. You will need a voltage tester, a screwdriver, and a flashlight. It is best to invest in a quality voltage tester to keep yourself safe and ensure accurate results. Always be cautious when working with an electrical system. If you are unsure or feel uncomfortable, it’s best to leave the task to a licensed electrician.

Step 2: Switch Off the Power

The first and most crucial step in testing electrical outlet wiring is to ensure the power is switched off. Locate your home’s main electrical panel, which is usually found in the garage, basement, or utility room. Open the panel and find the circuit breaker corresponding to the outlet you wish to test. Flip the switch to the off position. To ensure the power is completely off, use the voltage tester to test the outlet by inserting the probe into the small slots of the receptacle. If the voltage tester lights up, it means the power is still on.

Step 3: Remove the Outlet Cover

Once you have confirmed the power is off, use a screwdriver to remove the outlet cover. This will expose the wiring and terminal screws.

Step 4: Test the Voltage

Using the voltage tester, test each terminal screw, one at a time. Place one probe on the screw and the other on the ground terminal, which is usually a green screw in the outlet’s corner. If the voltage tester lights up, it means that the outlet is still live, and the power is not completely off. This could indicate a wiring issue and should be addressed by a licensed electrician.

Step 5: Test the Grounding

Next, you can test for proper grounding. Using the voltage tester, touch one probe to the ground terminal and the other to the metal box or the ground wire connected to the outlet. If the voltage tester lights up, it means your outlet is correctly grounded.

Step 6: Test for Correct Wiring Connections

To ensure the wiring connections are secure, reinsert the probe into the small slots of the outlet and hold the other end against the screw terminal. If the voltage tester lights up, it indicates that the wiring connections may not be done correctly and should be inspected by a professional.

Step 7: Check the Polarization

Polarization is essential for the safety and functionality of your electrical system. To test for proper polarization, simply insert the voltage tester into the small slots of the outlet. If the top slot lights up, your outlet is properly polarized. If it is in reverse, the bottom slot will light up, indicating a wiring issue that should be fixed.

Step 8: Check for GFCI Protection

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets are crucial for protecting against electrical shocks and should be installed in areas where water is present, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor areas. To test if your outlet has GFCI protection, simply press the test button and then the reset button on the outlet. If the power shuts off when you press the test button and turns back on when you press the reset button, it means it has GFCI protection.

Step 9: Replace the Outlet Cover

Once you have completed testing the outlet, replace the cover and ensure all screws are tightly secured. Turn the power back on at the main electrical panel and test the outlet using a small appliance or electronic device.


Regularly testing your electrical outlet wiring is essential for your home’s safety and functionality. Follow these simple steps to ensure your electrical system is in top condition. However, if at any point, you feel unsure or uncomfortable, always leave the task to a licensed electrician like B&K Electric. Keep your home and family protected by regularly maintaining your electrical system.


Electrical Outlet Wiring,

B&K Electric,

Home Maintenance