Whether you are attempting to rewire your whole house or just replacing that balky three-way switch in the hallway, there are a few very basic safety precautions you should always take. These few, but important, principals of electrical safety are the result of many a shocking moment experienced by yours truly in my thirty-plus years in the building trades.
The net, the bookstores, the public library - and maybe even your own bookshelves - are rife with "How To" tombs dedicated to electrical repairs and wiring you can use for step-by-step guidance. This is not such an article. Electrician Fayetteville NC team discusses about what you should know before you ever pick up that screwdriver or wire nut, starting with:
The Power Is Always On
The biggie. Most electrical mishaps occur because the victim "thought" the power was off before working the circuit. Just like "a gun is always loaded", you must assume the power is always on, even if you've turned off the breaker (or pulled the fuse) yourself.
How can this be? Lots of ways. The breaker labeled: "Kitchen" may indeed be just the kitchen lights and not connected to that faulty duplex receptacle above the counter. In fact, in most modern electrical installations, the circuits for lights and receptacles will not be the same. Perhaps the breaker is marked "Kitchen Plugs". This may be referring to the kitchen wall receptacles and not the back-splash device you intend to replace.
The only way to be sure the power is off is to check the circuit with a testing device that tattles on the current. These devices are numerous in configuration and use, but for everyday homeowner use the "Widget" type is best. (Yes there truly is a device called a "Widget") This is a small light bulb with two insulated wire probes with conductive tips. When touched to the proper wires, the bulb lights up when current is present. Which leads us to the next tip:
Your Widget Is Always Broken
That's right ... you have to test the tester. The only response you can trust from your Widget is a positive one; if the bulb lights up, you know there is power. If it doesn't, that does not automatically mean no power is present. The bulb could be burnt out, for instance. To assure yourself your Widget is working, test a known live circuit just prior to testing the one you wish to work.
If the test is positive, it still doesn't indicate absolutely that the device you are testing (a light socket, duplex receptacle, etc.) is not "hot". The device itself could be faulty. You need to check the actual "hard" wires - the ones coming out of the
wall that the electrical device connects to - to be certain. Which, in turn, gives us our next precautionary tip:
The Wire Doesn't Know What Color It Is
Conventional wisdom has it that the black (or red) wire is hot, the white wire is neutral and the bare wire is ground. Don't bet on it ... you could be betting your life. There are many instances where the white wire carries power, not the least common of which is that the circuit - or an electrical device on that circuit - is wired incorrectly. The white wire will not instinctively refuse to accept power, nor will the black wire demand it. Always check - to the bare ground - both the black and white wire for power before assuming the circuit is dead.
The most basic electrical safety tip of all, of course, is to be assured that you know what you are doing as you effect electrical repairs or wiring. If you aren't, call an electrician. It's expensive, sure, but it beats the cost of a funeral, no matter what the price. If you need electrical repair service around Fayetteville NC, call us today at (910) 407-5678 for free quote.