Basic Electrical Wiring
In this awesome article you'll find...
- Basic Electrical Wiring
- Pulling Wire
- Stripping the Wire
- Wiring Fixtures
- How To Know When to Call Electrician
- Know The Signs
- Flickering Lights Have Many Causes
- Unlicensed Electrical Work Can Result in Unpaid Fire Insurance Claims
- Dimming Lights May Require Breaker Box Update
- Aluminum Wiring Without Proper Fittings Can Be Dangerous
- A Non-working Outlet Can Be Caused by a Wall Switch
- Loose Breaker Box Connections are Fire Hazard
Electrical wiring can be one of those home improvement jobs and DIY projects that doesn’t get performed by a lot of homeowners. This is probably because of the fact that electricity is so dangerous. But by respecting electricity and taking the basic safety precautions you can easily do your own basic electrical wiring yourself. All you need are a few basic tools, although buying the best electrician’s tools will save you time, money and frustration in the end. Use this guide to understanding the basics of electrical wiring to wire for outlets, switches and lighting fixtures of all kinds.
One common misconception with pulling wire is that is can be done by yourself. The fact of the matter is, when wiring in an existing home, pulling wire yourself just doesn’t work. Crimps and kinks in the wire can easily happen. With a helping hand guiding your wire as you pull, the wiring in an existing structure will go smoothly.
Whether it’s for an outlet, switch or light fixture, pulling wire needs to be done without damaging the wire itself. Fish tape is a common tool that electricians use to pull wire through existing walls and cavities without damaging the wire. Furthermore, if you’re working at all with cable or ethernet wires and cables, the Fluke Intellitone Pro 200 is a great tool to have.
Stripping the Wire
More often than not, if you’re wiring for the first time, you’re probably going to cut it short. It’s always a good idea to pull a little extra wire for outlets, lighting fixtures and the like when you’re pulling wires from the service panel to the circuit area. This way, you’ll be sure to get the most wire for your project. Remember, more wire you can always cut off; less wire and you’re going to need a whole new line.
Strip the wire around outlets and lights from its protective sheath about 7-10 inches. A good reference is to use your longest finger to your wrist for the proper amount of wire to strip. Now the wiring can be exposed and stripped as needed.
Outlets and other lighting fixtures typically need 1-2 inches of exposed copper or aluminum to get the job done safely. Too much exposed wiring and you could have an electrical jump or short circuit.
Once wires have been stripped to the proper length, it’s best to wire them according to the manufacturers specifications. Average and typical wiring for outlets usually consists of inserting a bare and straight copper wire into the back of the switch or outlet. This locks the wire in place preventing the need for a screw or wire nut.
Some lighting fixtures need to be screw tightened (Ryobi tools are great for this!). These wires should be wrapped around the screw in the same direction as it turns (to the right). That way, when the wire is tightened, it doesn’t back out from the screw before you get it snug.
How To Know When to Call Electrician
Know The Signs
Sometimes it is extremely difficult to know when to call an electrician. Likewise, it can also be difficult to realize when you actually have an electrical problem. The following information will help you identify the signs of knowing when you should call a professional electrician and avoid any DIY fixes or advice for buying a new home.
Flickering Lights Have Many Causes
Your lights may be flickering. Are all the lights in the house flickering or just one lamp or one room? If one lamp is flickering, see if tightening the bulb stops the flickering. If the lamp still flickers, the problem may be in the lamp wiring or the wall outlet. If several lights are flickering, a complete circuit may be involved. The flickering of all the lights in the house indicates that the problem is probably in the main breaker box or the service entrance to the house.
Unlicensed Electrical Work Can Result in Unpaid Fire Insurance Claims
Unless you have extensive electrical knowledge, these problems call for a licensed electrician. In some cases, insurance companies refuse to pay fire claims if it can be established that the probable cause was electrical work performed by unlicensed contractors. In many localities it is illegal to perform electrical work without a permit.
Dimming Lights May Require Breaker Box Update
If your lights dim considerably when a major appliance comes on, the breaker box in your home may be too small. In older houses, it is quite likely that the electrical service has not been updated to accommodate the many electrical appliances found in modern homes. If circuit breakers frequently require resetting, it is quite likely the electrical service is inadequate.
Aluminum Wiring Without Proper Fittings Can Be Dangerous
Some older homes have aluminum wiring. Being less expensive than copper, aluminum wiring was used in the 1970s in about 2 million houses and mobile homes. If there is a possibility that your older home could have aluminum wiring, it may need to be checked and updated with switches, outlets and fittings that are designed to allow aluminum wiring to be used safely. Detection of a hot switch or outlet calls for immediate action. Oxidation or rust of the wire in the numerous connections can cause overheating and fire.
A Non-working Outlet Can Be Caused by a Wall Switch
If half or all of a wall outlet has no power, check for a wall switch that may be controlling the outlet. It there is no switch, there is a problem in the connection or circuit.
Loose Breaker Box Connections are Fire Hazard
When having electrical repair performed, all the connections in the breaker box should be checked for tightness. A loose connection can cause overheating and fire.
If your electrical contractor has a website or Facebook page, you should use this as a source of information about maintaining a home that is safe electrically. The sites can also keep you informed about available new electrical equipment like the best stud finder that can also be used to find wires in your walls. Knowledgeable electrical contractors find the internet a remarkably effective means to communicate with their customers.
If you have not found the need to use the services of a licensed electrician, it would be an excellent idea to establish a relationship with one. They would be happy to provide an electrical safety-inspection of your home. The reward would be the peace of mind that comes from the knowledge that you have done everything possible to protect your home and family.