How to Remove Electrical Wire From a Push-in Receptacle

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Things You'll Need

  • Gloves

  • Circuit tester or meter

  • Medium flat-blade screwdriver

  • Small flat-blade screwdriver

  • Pliers

Cut the power before removing the wires.

Replace that old worn-out electrical outlet using simple electrical skills, and ensure a good connection for your lights, appliances and home electronics. Use simple techniques to eliminate the need for cutting the wires from the old receptacles, and save time and trouble when you install the new ones.


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Remove the Outlet and Wires

Step 1

Start with safety first when doing any electrical work. Put on your gloves. Turn off the power to the receptacle at the circuit breaker. Use the circuit tester or meter to confirm that power is off by inserting its probes into the socket openings and watching for any indication of live power.

Step 2

Remove the receptacle from the outlet wall box by unscrewing the top and bottom mounting screws. Carefully pull the receptacle slowly out of its wall box to expose the rear wiring area.


Determine if the wires are secured by screwdriver release slots on the rear or on the sides. A few types use the side wiring screws to clamp the wires that are pushed into the openings.

Step 3

Rotate the receptacle to place its face against the wall near the box if the screwdriver release slots are on the rear. Place one side of the receptacle against the wall if the screwdriver release slot is on the side. Place the blade of the proper size screwdriver in the screwdriver release slot and push down on the screwdriver while pulling on the wire with the pliers.

Move the wire from side to side while pulling it with the pliers if it's stuck in the receptacle. Vary the pressure on the screwdriver while pulling the wire from side to side to free it from an old receptacle.


Step 4

Repeat the process in Step 3 for the other wire. Unscrew the grounding screw and remove the ground wire from the receptacle. Unscrew the respective side screws if they're securing the push-in wires.


Consider hiring a licensed electrician for your project if it entails extensive or complicated electrical wiring.

Be patient and work slowly when removing old electrical receptacles; they're sometimes corroded, making the wiring very difficult to remove.


Never work on any electrical circuit without disabling power to it to eliminate shock hazard.


references & resources

Jack Brooks

Since 1985, Jack Brooks has written about construction, electronics, business, the Internet and online marketing, among other topics. His work has appeared in "Inland Empire" newspapers, feature supplements, website content and online articles. He attended Northern Virginia Community College for two years, then worked as a professional musician/songwriter for 30 years.