How to Wire an Electrical Socket

Want to put in or enlarge a plug socket? Wiring one is a pretty simple job. As with any electrical work, though, always call in a certified electrician to check you have completed the work safely and make sure the power supply is switched off before starting (and be sure it is legal for you to be carrying out such work as some jurisdictions are very strict about electrical work).


  1. Image titled Wire a Plug Socket Step 1
    Prepare the socket.
    • Turn off the power to the socket.
    • Unscrew the face plate and make a note of the wire connections to the earth, neutral and live terminals.
    • Unscrew the back box from the wall.
    • Place the new double back box on the wall over the top of the existing hole.
    • Use a spirit level to check it’s straight and draw around the edge.
  2. Image titled Wire a Plug Socket Step 2
    Drill the holes. Drill a series of closely-spaced holes with the masonry bit to enlarge the hole for the double back box. Use a cold chisel and hammer to break the rest of masonry away to form a neat hole for the socket. If you have plasterboard walls, you can use a plasterboard saw to enlarge the hole.
  3. Image titled Wire a Plug Socket Step 3
    Add the back box. Check that the back box fits into the hole.
    • Tap out the round inlet holes in the box and thread the wiring through the box.
    • Fit rubber grommets around the holes in metal back boxes to protect the wires.
    • Mark, drill, and plug the fixing holes.
  4. Image titled Wire a Plug Socket Step 4
    Work on a ring circuit. If you are working on a ring circuit, twist together the wires for each terminal (live, neutral and earth), push them into the terminals and screw tightly in place with an electrical screwdriver.
    • If any of the bare wire ends are damaged, snip off the end and use the wire strippers to remove around 20mm of the sheathing.
    • Fold the bare wire back on itself and pinch together with pliers.
    • Twist together all the wires for a particular terminal and screw down tightly.
  5. Image titled Wire a Plug Socket Step 5
    Do the finishing touches. Push the face plate against the back box, checking none of the wires are caught or stretched.
    • Fix the face place with the two long screws that are clipped to the inside of the late.
    • Fill any cracks or holes around the socket with filler and paint. Turn on the power supply.
  6. Image titled Wire a Plug Socket Step 6
    Test that the socket works. If not, turn off the power and re-check the wiring, sometimes a terminal screw can work loose. Call in an electrician to check your work if there is a problem.


  • The earth wire should already be clearly marked with yellow and green sheathing. If not, you can buy small rolls of earth sleeving. Snip a section off and slip over the earth wire before connecting to the terminal.
  • DIY stores sell surface or flush-mounted sockets. A flush-mounted socket is the neatest solution but you must drill and chop out the wall to fit the back box. Surface-mounted sockets are easier to install as the wires are fitted into the box, not the wall. However, they are more easily knocked and damaged as well as looking more utilitarian.
  • A competent DIYer can replace a socket in their home except in the kitchen, bathroom, utility room and some other ‘special’ locations. Check with your local building control officer before tackling the work, just to make sure.
  • Wrap some masking tape around your drill bit so that you know exactly how deep to drill the hole for the new socket back box.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 socket back box and faceplate
  • 1 cold chisel
  • 1 plaster filler
  • 1 hammer drill and masonry bit (12-18mm)
  • 1 electrical screwdriver
  • 1 pliers
  • 1 wire strippers or craft knife
  • 1 gloves
  • 1 spirit level
  • 1 pencil
  • 1 goggles

Article Info

Categories: Electrical Maintenance