....I bought a contractors pack of white outlets a few months ago because I wanted to start switching out all of my off-white plugs. They have sat in a drawer for a few months now because it wasn't top priority and because it seemed REALLY intimidating. However, since I am in the middle of a room redo I wasn't about to put the same off white plates up on my new crisp paint!! All of the plates were already off because of all the painting that was going on so I decided to unscrew the actual outlets to see what they looked like behind there, and we had a problem!....They didn't look like the outlets that I had bought, the wires were going straight into the back of the outlet and not on the little side screws like my new outlets had >> it will all make sense in the pictures (hopefully!).
I decided to go to Lowe's and ask somebody why they were different. They told me that a lot of times builders will install the outlets this way (in the back rather than wrapping them around the screws) because it is faster, but the other way is better. Back home I went now determined that I could win this battle. I started poking at the old outlet to try and release the wires and -ZAP-,I was the proud owner of a nice little shock. >>NOTE FOR NEXT TIME: REMEMBER TO TURN OFF THE ELECTRICITY TO THAT ROOM!!<< It really didn't hurt, cooking can cause more damage in my opinion, but I don't imagine having electricity going through your body is a good thing. With the electricity now off, the only way I could get those wires out of the back was to break the outlet and then release them.
Then I just curled the wire slightly with some pliers and tightened the screws down around them. Screw them back to the wall, add plate, and Tada!! I timed myself on this outlet and from start to finish, including all the pauses to take the pictures for this post, it took 7 min 44 sec. Not bad, and definitely worth the pay off. I bought a 10 pack of outlets for around $14 and a 10 pack of plates for about $2. Once you get through the first outlet it is no longer scary at all! Just turn the electricity back on after the first one and try it out to make sure you are doing it right before you tackle too many.
Hope this eases any fears you may have, if I can do it, you can do it. Have you done any use-to-be-scared-of projects lately?