How To Change a Razor Receptacle to GFCI
In the bathrooms of many of our homes that are Pre-1980's you will probably have a plugin in the wall with a large front cover and a small single plugin the middle. These where for razors most of them are so large because there is a small transformer behind there that reduces the voltage so it can be used by razors that did not need 120 volts of electricity. You have probably over the years tried to use it for other things like hair driers and curling irons but it either would not work or not work well. Many people would like to have a working receptacle in their bathroom and I will tell you here how to change one of these old razor type plugs out and install a new and much safer GFCI receptacle.
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- Multi ended screwdriver
- utility knife or wire strippers
- voltage tester
Very first step as always when working with electricity is find the proper breaker and turn it off. If you are not sure which breaker controls that plug than turn off the main breaker to the house. Once the power is turned off remove the old razor plug from the wall and determine if the existing line has a ground wire.
TIP: The ground wire will usually be a bare copper wire or it may have a green plastic covering.
If the existing wiring does not have a ground wire then the GFCI plug you want to install will not work properly and you should not install it. You will want to contact a licensed electrician at this point to determine if they can help you to ground this circuit properly so that the GFCI can be installed.
If the wiring is grounded then you should be fine.Next determine if there is more than 1 pair of wires attached to the existing plug, if not then disconnect the wires from the old plug and discard it. Connect the wires to the new GFCI at the terminals marked "line" on the back by following the instructions that came with your new GFCI.
If there are more than one set of wires connected to the old plug than you must determine which pair are feeding the plug. To do this you can use a voltage tester. Remove all of the wires and discard the old plug. Figure out which wires are pairs and then use wire nuts or electrical tape to cover the exposed bare wire on the end of each pair but one set. Keep those exposed wire safely away from any exposed metal and do not allow anyone near who might touch them. Have someone else turn on the power for a sort time while you use the voltage tester to check the exposed wires for electricity .
TIP: Place the voltage testers dial on "ACV" , "200" then contact the black lead to the white wire and the red lead to the black wire. DO NOT TOUCH THE BARE WIRE OR THE BARE LEADS. BE CAREFUL!!
Continue checking each pair ,being sure to turn off the power while changing to each different pair. When you get a pair that reads between 118 and 121 on the meter you know these are the pair that are feeding this plug and they get attached to the "line" screws on the GFCI all the other wires go to the "load" screws as described in the instructions that came with you GFCI. Don't forget to attach the ground wire as well.
Once all wiring is secured attach the new GFCI to the metal electrical box in the wall. Now turn the power back on and test the new GFCI by first pushing the "reset" button on the front and then plugging something in to try it. Your new plug should be powered up now and working, if it does work try pressing the "test" button on the front and you should now not have power to the receptacle. Just simply press "reset" again and everything is fine.
You can find covers that are big enough to cover the large hole in the wall and they have a hole in the center to accommodate the new GFCI you have just installed.
Not all electrical codes are the same everywhere so you may have to check your specific codes in your area to completely finish your application. Good luck!