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How to Install an AFCI Outlet

Today you’ll learn how to install an AFCI outlet.

Do you have old electrical outlets?

If so, they’re a fire hazard.

This little device is way safer than a traditional outlet.

You’ll see why.

Getting Started

Explosions are exciting.

Especially when you’re about 4 feet away.

Bill’s gonna show you why AFCIs are way better than normal outlets.

It’s pretty intense to say the least.

It’s always cool to see how a professional contractor works.

Bill White is one of the best electricians here in Pittsburgh.

Bill helped with a GFCI tutorial a few weeks back.

Bill and Jeff

If you missed that tutorial you should check it out.

GFCIs are required by electrical code in bathrooms and kitchens.

AFCIs (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters) can be used anywhere but the Bathroom and Kitchen.

Bill talks about this more in the video tutorial.

The installation of an AFCI is very similar to a GFCI.

Here are the supplies you need for this project

After watching Bill in action you’ll be able to install an AFCI in 10 minutes.

Plus, your house will be much safer from fires.

How to Determine Line and Load Wires

To properly install an AFCI outlet you need to determine the line and load wires.

Line wires feed electricity to the outlet.

Load wires take the electricity to the next device.

Turn power off at breaker or fuse

First things first: turn the power off at your panel.

Do this either for the entire house or just for the circuit you’re working on.

The easiest way to get started with this is to plug your lamp into the outlet.

Then turn off the breaker that you think controls that outlet.

Turn power off at the breaker

Double check the outlet has no electricity running to it.

Use a voltage tester.

Double Check Power with Voltage Tester

Remove the old outlet from the electrical box.

Remove Old Outlet from Box

At this point you need to determine which set of wires supply electricity to the outlet.

These are called the Line wires.

Unscrew one set of wires from the outlet and cap them with wire nuts.

Push the outlet and wires back into the electrical box and turn the circuit on.

Cap One Set of Wires

NOTE: if you have one set of wires in box you don’t have to do this step.

Bill shows you how to do all this in the video 😀

Plug your lamp into the outlet.

If you have power then the outlet is connected to the Line wires.

If you don’t have power then the outlet is connected to the Load wires.

In our case the Line wires were connected to the outlet and the lamp lit up.

Test for Line and Load Wires

Yep, that’s a nice simple tip from Bill.

And it’s a safe way to figure out the Line and Load wires.

The next step is to install your Leviton Smartlock Pro AFCI outlet.

Bill will show you how to do this in 10 minutes.

How to Install a Leviton SmartlockPro AFCI in 10 Minutes (or Less)

Oops, almost forgot.

Add a piece of black electrical tape on the black Line wire.

That way you won’t mix it up with the Load wire.

Add Black Tape to Line Wire

The AFCI will come with a piece of yellow tape over the Load terminals.

So the Line terminals will be exposed.

Make sure you pay attention to the Line and Load terminals on the back of the AFCI.

Otherwise you could wire the AFCI incorrectly.

Always wire the ground wire first.

This is the bare copper wire and it goes with the green terminal screw.

Create a loop on the ground wire and ensure the loop encircles the green screw in a clockwise fashion.

As you tighten the screw you’ll ratchet down on the copper wire.

Add the Ground Wire First

New outlets have pressure plates for the brass and silver terminal screws.

This makes it quicker to wire an AFCI.

Strip about 3/4 of an inch of insulation off the black and white wires.

Black wires go with brass screws and white wires go with silver screws.

Don’t worry, Bill walks you through this in the video.

Watch the video…don’t miss the EXPLOSIONS at the end!!

What’s Next

Your home will be much safer if you install a Smartlock Pro AFCI.

You should also install a GFCI outlet in every bathroom and kitchen for added protection.

If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and need help, join one of our online courses – they’ll make your bathroom renovation much easier!

Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.

Thanks as always for reading, watching and making our Do-It-Yourself community the best.

I love reading your comments, see you below.



AFCI Outlet Installation

  1. Barbara Curtis says:

    Will be modifying some branch circuits and would like to use the SmartLock Pro AFCIs to do it to increase our home’s safety.

  2. Chris Johnson says:

    I would like to update circuits in my home and I think these receptacles are very important protection safety component.

  3. Ryan Heath says:

    I live in a 1960’s house that has no GFCI/AFCI outlets in bathrooms or kitchens. My wife and I are also expecting a baby for Christmas. I would use my AFCI to install in the bathroom or kitchen to bring them up to current code.

  4. Thomas Conrad says:

    I will install them in my office. My toddler son already fried a USB hub by taking the loose Lightning connector and plugging it straight into the surge suppressor while Mommy was working on the computer next to him. His younger sister is even more curious and I may end up spending a small fortune on these since the kids are smarter than the protective covers but too naive to stay away. These at least provide another level of protection.

  5. simplydab says:

    I’d use this in our home office. Between the computer equipment, TV, DVD player, etc. there’s a lot of expensive electronics in that area, and to have additional (electrical) security would give us peace of mind, not to mention the potential savings should something go wrong!

  6. Sandra Lea says:

    I recently moved into a home that needs some updating, this is definitely what I need. Thanks.

    1. Glad to help Sandra, let me know what else you need help with and we’ll give you a hand.

  7. Les sheppard says:

    Have an older home wired with aluminum wire. Have had to periodically go through and tighten receptical connections. Have lost several as the loose connections have actually burnt the recpt. beyond further use. Could have burnt the home down. Very concerned and pleased you gave me an option for my families protection.

    1. Yah, aluminum is very tricky Les. You might want to call Leviton’s technical service people and ask them if their AFCI is compatible. Always good to double check.

  8. Roger says:

    This would be great for a new edition I’m putting on the house. Of course I’ll have to buy a few more of them but what a great idea.

    1. New addition, that’s awesome Roger. What are you gonna put in that space? I can’t remember if we talked about this or not.

  9. Squafdonoboles says:

    I live in a mobile home and think this may be good protection.

    1. It would certainly help 😀

  10. ShyJuan Clemons says:

    I’d use them in my living room and my cartooning area. The living room TV has a bunch of attached electronics but very few outlets. My cartooning /desk area is on the same line so I think having an AFCI would make a safer environment.

    1. Cartooning? Now that sounds fun. It would make it safer for sure ShyJuan 😀

  11. dan says:

    Watching Bill cut through the wire make my hair stand on end.
    I’d like the SmartLock Pros AFCI because our house has shared neutrals (3wire) going into the service panel which means that I cannot use the panel circuit breaker AFCIs that only can be put into the panel breaker slots. Unless I rewire the house of course to 2wire+ground to the panel. So these “point of use” outlet AFCIs will work be the only ones that I can use for my house.

    1. Make sure you can use them Dan, wish I had a good answer for you. But that’s why I have Bill do these tutorials now 😀

  12. Bill Logue says:

    We are remodeling an 80 year old house. I could really use an AFCI outlet with the old wiring. Heck, I could use several AFCI outlets, but this would be a good start.

    1. It sure sounds like you have your hands full Bill…80 years old!!!

      Holy cow.

      Good for you to renovate such a cool house. You should post pics in our Private Facebook Group.

      People would love to see your progress

      Here’s the link to sign up

  13. Lillace Christianson says:

    Hi, Jeff! Would wiring installed in 1999 be considered old?

    1. Not at all Lillace. You likely have Romex and are in good shape. But it wouldn’t hurt to have an AFCI and check that your GFCIs are working. Hit the Test and Reset buttons on your GFCIs in the bathroom and kitchen, hopefully they still work. But if they don’t swap them for new ones.

  14. anna says:

    My house was built in 1984 so has no arc fault protection. Budget is really tight so receiving one of these would be much appreciated.

    1. Ah, those 1980s homes…we live in one too Anna. Yes, the AFCIs would be a great addition to your house 😀

  15. michael sklar says:

    I’ve installed GFCI in the kitchen. Now I need to do the next step, and would appreciate an AFCI outlet.

    1. You’re right Michael, AFCIs are the next step after GFCIs. Good way to put it buddy 😀

  16. Mike says:

    I would use it on my father’s 1970’s house. He’s 83 and my Mom has passed away. I’m always looking for ways to make his house safer and elder friendly now that he lives by himself.

    By the way, EXCELLENT video by you and Bill. I would nominate this as the episode of the year for the most beneficial to the public.

    1. Thanks so much Mike. You’re a good son for thinking of your Dad. Sorry to hear about your Mom.

      The AFCI could definitely make your Dad’s house safer when it comes the electrical. Make sure he has operational GFCIs in the bathroom and kitchen, too 😀

  17. Ingrid says:

    As always, a very good video. I’m impressed how much I take for granted the safety of my outlets. These would certainly update my old receptacles.

    1. You’re right Ingrid, good wiring can make a huge difference in home safety. And having both AFCIs and GFCIs in the home are two extra but crucial steps when it comes to electrical safety 😀

  18. Karl Bosworth says:

    I volunteer in the facility maintenance section at the Tucson Gospel Rescue Mission and would use them to update the outlets in the Women’s and Children’s Center (WCC), first, and then the Men’s Center (MC). The WCC is a fort-year old facility that was renovated about 6 years ago to convert it from a motel. The MC is much older and is a conglomeration of permanent and temporary facilities built over the last 70 years and never really renovated.

    1. You’re a great buy Karl. Good for you to think about installing the AFCIs in the WCC first then MC. That sounds like the right order in my head.

  19. Jeremiah says:

    I’d like to replace all my receptacles in the bedrooms with AFCIs. Can’t wait to get started.

    1. Awesome, glad you liked this tutorial Jeremiah. After watching Bill it clears up a lot of details. Hope you can do it yourself 😀

  20. Christine Taylor says:

    These are pretty handy. I’d install them in my kids bedroom first! I am a little confused about the installation, however. I thought Bill flagged the load wire with the black tape, but when it came to attaching the load wire he used the un-flagged wire. Can you explain what I missed here? Thanks!

    1. He flagged the Line wire Christine, so that’s where it got confusing. The Line feeds the outlet with power and the load takes that electricity to the other outlets downstream. But yah, these would be perfect in your bedrooms.

  21. Alice Reinhardt says:

    I just took a class in wiring, and would love to be able to make my home safer by adding an AFCI. Your video was so informative, and made it look easy to install.
    I am 64 years old and trying to learn how to make my home safer

    1. That’s fantastic Alice, did you take the class through a local school? We get the community college course schedule in the mail and it has all sorts of great classes. Good for you!!

  22. Charles Bonner says:

    I purchased a house that was built in 1979. These will make me sleep much better at night!

    1. Our house is from 1980 Charles, anything we can do to make is safer makes me sleep better as well. Especially with kids 😀

  23. Bob says:

    Great stuff! Have really enjoyed your series and no doubt learned a few things. Using a light to test for a live circuit is a great idea, – if you are within sight of the lamp. I often work alone, and if I need to kill power to an outlet, I plug in my radio and turn it up loud enough to hear at wherever the breaker box is (almost always at the other end of the house!). Then, one at a time turn off each breaker until the radio dies and you’ve found it! Good idea to label the circuits as you identify them, too, as so often they are incorrectly identified, or not at all.

    1. Great idea Bob, I need to do that with our circuits. They’re all mislabeled in the panel and it drives me bonkers. Totally need to do that project some day 😀

  24. Kathy says:

    My house was built in 1965. Nothing has been updated. I still have original everything, including electrical. I’d use one in 2 places–my kitchen or bedroom. I’m always tripping the breaker in the kitchen, trying to run the dishwasher and microwave at the same time. My blow dryer trips the breaker in my bedroom if I don’t turn things off before I use it. I think the SmartlockPro AFCI would be an invaluable tool for me!

  25. April Matney says:

    We currently have no AFCI outlets in our home and would love to add them into our second story where all our bedrooms are located to help keep my family safe. LOVED the video! Very informative and helpful! Thank you for sharing all your wisdom!

  26. simplydab says:

    Received our prize today -thanks for the quick fulfillment!! Well be hooking this up one day this week after work, for sure!!!

  27. Raul says:

    what do i do if i have more than 4 wires in the box, do i need to install a bigger box and use a pig tail for the load side?
    Also what options do I have if the first device in the circuit is a switch and not an outlet?

  28. Gerald finco says:

    Would like to do some updates on receptacles

  29. Lisa G says:

    The AFCI that I bought has instructions that say it must be installed as the first outlet in the branch circuit. Is there no value in replacing all plugs in the circuit with AFCI? Or you only need one, because arcing on any one of the plugs on the circuit will trip this first plug which turns off the whole circuit?

  30. Bill says:

    I want to install a few in my older mobile home. Can I pull out wire from breaker box add an AFCI outlet mount to wall then run new wire back into breaker box. Of course wire back to breaker box will hook up as line to the AFCI, the old wire would be load. Now that circuit is complete. RIGHT ?

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