Practical Electrical Safety Tips

home electrician toolbox tools

Understanding rudimentary home electrical wiring and observing electrical safety precautions makes most repairs an easy task.

Among the various kinds of home repairs you can make, an electrical repair is considered by some as the most difficult. The truth is that understanding rudimentary home electrical wiring and observing electrical safety precautions makes most repairs an easy task.

Working with home electricity can be precarious if the safety precautions presented in this article are not observed. Even though you can make most electrical repairs, there are still times when it’s best to rely on the expertise of a licensed electrician.

Homes receive their electricity through wires joined to the electric company’s power lines, meter, and circuit breaker panel. Older homes will have a fuse box instead of a circuit breaker box.

Typically, the electrical service will be 220 Volts and rated for 100 Amps. Most household electrical appliances operate on 110 Volts, made by dividing the 220 Volts into different branches of 110V and 220V lines at the electrical service panel. We see this a lot in kitchen renovations in Townsville, Queensland.

For safety and protection of a home’s electrical circuits, circuit breakers are the first line of defense in preventing a dangerous electrical overload. Plugging in too many appliances or devices into a single electrical circuit creates the potential for an electrical overload, causing the circuit breaker or fuse to disconnect.

A typical current carrying capacity, or load, for circuit breakers is 10, 15, or 20 amps.

Standard 3-wire electrical wiring uses the black wire for the hot wire. The hot wire carries the AC voltage that is most threatening when making an electric home service as it carries the electrical current throughout the house.

In certain cases, such as a two – or three- way switch, you will find either a blue or a red wire serves as the hot wire. The white wire is the electrical neutral wire that returns the power to the service panel. The ground wire may be bare copper, or can be either green or yellow.

The ground wire gives the electrical current a safety connection to ground in case of an electrical short circuit failure.

Inside the Electrician’s Toolbox

There are just a few handtools required to make an electrical improvement, including a straight slot screwdriver, needle-nosed pliers, a wire stripper, and an electrical circuit tester. An electrical circuit tester can be a simple two-wire bulb, an inductive voltage tester or an inexpensive Volt-Ohm Meter (VOM). Plastic electrical tape, splices and twist-on connectors or crimp connectors complete the accessories one should have on hand.

First rule of electrical safety is that electricity around the home demands extreme caution when making electrical repairs. The reason is that electrical currents approaching only 100 mA (milli-Amperes) can be lethal if they pass through sensitive portions of the body.

Especially hazardous are any spaces that are damp or wet like kitchens, bathrooms and even basements depending on how damp or if it is a finished basement or not. These spaces require extra precautions to make sure that the electricity is turned off.

The risk of injury or death from an electrical shock has been reduced by advances in the design of outlets and plugs. Just make sure that you have or have bought the newest sockets as many today even have their own trip switches built right in, a nice secondary backup, especially in kitchens and bathrooms where water is a major concern.

The first step in electrical safety is to always turn off the proper circuit breaker or remove the fuse before starting to make electrical repair. If you’re not sure which breaker switch it is, just turn on the switch, then turn off one breaker at a time until you find the right one. You should then mark the breaker if it isn’t already so the next time you know.

Never insert any metal object, such as a penny into a fuse socket – You Could Burn Your House Down if the circuit becomes overloaded.

When testing wires with a meter, or multi-meter, be sure that the leads are properly joined and the meter’s range and function switches are set above the expected voltage or current range.

Standing on a metal ladder while working with electricity is extremely hazardous and requires extra precautions.  Similarly, undergound wires that are cut while mowing your lawn can also have dire consequences. I saw a man electrocuted on a putting green while he was mowing the turf from an undergound wire. Never handle or make contact to a bare wire or exposed wire unless you are certain that no electricity is present. If you must use a ladder, use a fiberglass or wooden ladder and still be cautious.

Always double check the circuit you are working in order to be certain that the power is off by using an induction voltage tester or some other similar electrical testing device before starting your electrical service.

You time and effort in reading this article is much appreciated. Be safe when making home electrical repairs by keeping these electrical safety precautions in mind.