Electricity is essential to life in the digital era, and electricity powers everything from the lighting in your home to the smartphone in your hand. Around your house, electricity is essential for everyday things like washing clothes and watching TV, and homeowners should know how to handle basic electrical repair and maintenance work. While working on electrical wiring may seem daunting if you have no experience, the following are some easy tips you can use to stay safe when working on electrical wiring around your property:
Insulate As Much As You Can
Electrical conductivity is the principle that describes how easy it is for an electrical current to travel through something. Many metals have high conductivity while plastics and rubber have low conductivity. This is why you should consider using alternatives to metal hardware when working on electrical components. Nylon flat washers, plastic bolts and rubber feet can all help to reduce conductivity, and you can order large quantities of washers online or request a quote from a manufacturer or distributor of natural nylon washers.
You should also try to use insulated tools when working on electrical wiring. Tools with rubberized handles or plastic handles can reduce the chances of receiving a severe electric shock. Additionally, you can ground wiring by attaching the ground wire to a dedicated grounding post when installing or repairing an electrical fixture. The ground wire is typically green or bare copper while the power or hot wire is black and the neutral wire is white. When an electrical component is grounded, an electrical current is redirected if a conductive surface comes into contact with a live wire. Grounding is very important when working with metal electrical fixtures, and while older fixtures may not have ground wires, grounding is common practice today.
Turn Off The Electricity
Before you attempt any electrical work, it’s vital to turn off the power at the main breaker. In homes, breakers are usually located in a dedicated panel that can be found recessed inside of walls. Check your closets, basement or attached garage if you’re having a hard time locating the breaker box. Each breaker should be clearly labeled to identify what it controls. If your breakers are not labeled, you may need to try turning each one on and off while someone else monitors what electrical components around your home turn on and off. Once you have identified what each breaker controls, take a moment to label your breakers to make life easier in the future.
Even with a breaker turned off, you’re encouraged to use a handheld wire tester to ensure that the power is actually off in a particular area. These testers are relatively inexpensive devices that can be safely placed against a piece of electrical wire or electrical fixture to determine if electricity is actively flowing. The device should provide a visual and audio alert if electricity is still reaching the wire or fixture. If it is, you will need to recheck your breaker box to ensure that you have switched off the proper breaker.
Inspect Old Wiring
If you have an older home, take some time to inspect its wiring. This may require you to check in places like attics, basements and crawlspaces as wiring can be run through a number of places. The protective coating on an electrical wire is usually made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), but older wires may be coated with less protective coatings. Over time, the protective coating on an electrical wire can break down or crack and break. When this happens, the bare wire can be exposed and lead to the potential for dangerous electrical shocks or fires. If this is the case, you will want to contact a licensed electrician to replace the wiring.