The ability to repair basic house wiring in you home is a skill you can acquire. Electrical wiring in a residential house is not that complicated, but it can be dangerous. A proper understanding of how the wiring and electrical fixtures work is essential.
This article will point you to the resources that will give you the knowledge that you need. If you are looking for information on a specific problem, see the article on 'Home Electrical Repair', it has listings on all of the major electrical and wiring problems you are likely to encounter in your home.
Some popular pages related to residential wiring are, 'Doorbell Wiring', 'Phone Jack Wiring', 'Installing Electrical Outlets', 'Wiring a Light Switch' and 'Wiring a Ceiling Fan'.
Understanding Residential Wiring
Most homes in the United States have two hot wires and one neutral coming into them. Supplying a stated 240/120 volts. The actual voltage received is normally slightly less 230/115 volts. This type of power is commonly called single phased power. Most residential homes have this type of basic house wiring.
The power coming into your home is also called alternating current. There are people in the world that can explain what that means exactly, but none of them are writing this article. Alternating current is used to allow electricity to be transported over long distances. Leave it at that, the guys that can explain it will talk in a language you won't understand.
The first power plant using alternating current came on line in Niagara Falls, New York in 1894. Nikola Tesla is credited with the development of a system the would allow power to sent long distances. Thus, making it practical.
When you use one hot wire and the neutral you get 115 volt power. Most small electrical devices and lights run on this current. Heavy duty items like ranges, hot water tanks and dryers use both hot wires and the neutral to achieve 230 volts.
You may not want to tear into replacing you electrical service, but doing some basic house wiring may not be out of the question. The first thing you want to do is get a healthy respect for electricity. It is dangerous and can hurt or kill you. Take precautions when working around electricity.
Basic House Wiring Rules
The first rule to remember is that basic house wiring can be dangerous. Never attempt to do it without a good understanding of how it works and safe work practices. This article is intended to provide basic information and is not a comprehensive discussion of all aspects of house wiring. See the article on 'Electrical Safety Tips for Homeowners' for more information.
In addition local and national electrical codes apply. You will need to consult your local building department to get information on what is acceptable for basic house wiring in your area.
Basic House Wiring the Safe Way
You never want to work on basic house wiring in your home with the power on. See the article 'Electrical Safety Tips' for more information. Just shutting off a switch is not enough. On the job electricians use lock out tag out procedures to make sure circuits are not inadvertently turned on while they are being worked on. You turned off the switch, so everything is fine right?
It is much safer to turn the circuit off at the panel before working on the device. Someone could accidentally turn on the switch by mistake and an accident ensues. You should additionally tape off the breaker and mark it as being worked on. <strong>Does you teenage son know where the electric panel is? What will he do if his stereo or video game goes off?
WARNING!! Make Sure the Power is OFF Before Working With Electricity!!! WARNING!!!
In addition you need to take it one step further. Have a non contact voltage tester with you and check the box before you mess with it. It is possible for more than one circuit to run through the same box. You may have shut one of them off, but there could still be hot wires in the box. The number of combinations you can find in basic house wiring is staggering. Always double check.
Circuits in panel boxes are sometimes poorly marked. It may take some experimenting to get the right circuit. Take the time and make sure the power is off. Take a look at the article 'Electrical Safety Tips' for a more information on electrical safety.
Troubleshooting Wiring Problems
Before you even think about fixing anything in your home that involves electricity, you want to make sure you are doing it in a safe way. Electricity is DANGEROUS and you can be HURT or even KILLED if you are not careful. With that said, there are some basic precautions that will keep you from getting hurt. The article 'Electrical Safety at Home' provides warnings and precautions that you need to follow.
Making sure the 'POWER IS OFF' before you work on any electrical device is always the first thing you should do. Understanding how electricity works and the task you are performing should be done before you begin. Using the proper tools and wearing the right personal protective equipment is also very important.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International website has a wealth of information on dealing with electricity in a safe manner. There is a page on this website that has several suggestions for Do It Yourself Electrical Safety.
Main Service Panel
The nerve center of you home electrical system is the 'Main Service Panel'. It contains the circuit breakers or fuses for the electrical power in your home. Most of the time it will also have a 'Main Disconnect' for the homes power supply.
Whenever the power goes off in a section of your home, the main service panel is the first place to go. See the article on 'Troubleshooting Electrical Circuit Problems' to determine if you have a blown fuse or tripped breaker.
During a flood or any time the home is damaged, you will want to turn off the main breaker at the panel.
Types of Electrical Circuits
The main service panel or distribution panel as it is sometimes called, branches out into several circuits. Some circuits are just for outlets in your home and others are for lighting.
You also have what are called 'Dedicated Circuits' for special items such as a furnace or washer and dryer. When a specific item stops working the first thing to check is the breaker for that item. Your panel should have labels for what each circuit breaker is assigned to.
Circuit Breaker Types
The main function of a breaker or fuse is to keep circuits from overloading. Wires and devices are only rated for a certain amount of current. If too much electricity passes through a wire it will overheat and can cause a fire.
Circuit breakers are designed to trip when the amount of current exceeds a certain level. This is a safety feature that is required by code. Breakers are also used to regulate the power to certain devices, some requiring a little power, others require a lot of power.
Newer circuit breakers can also detect shock hazards and arcing conditions. Again, safety features to prevent fires and injury. This article provides information on how the various types of breakers work and the issues that arise.
Electrical Wire Types
Electrical wire comes in many sizes and is made from different materials. There are certain hazards that can arise from certain types of wire.
Additionally, the size of the wire will determine how much current can go through it. You will want to use the correct size wire whenever you are installing or replacing electrical devices.
Adding a Circuit to a Panel
Adding circuits in an existing home may be required for various reasons, such as remodeling or the purchase of new appliances. There are several factors to consider before a new circuit is added.
This article provides basic information about the types of wiring and methods that are used in most homes. It is important to understand what the various wires do and how that are connected to each other.
Newer wiring is color coded, to let the installer know what the wire is for. However, colors are not an absolute indicator of how a wire is being used.
Installing Electrical Fixtures
Changing existing outlets, switches and fixtures is a common electrical task. Get tips and tricks for performing these tasks.
Problems With Electrical Circuits
See this article for information on problems with wiring and circuits. It will help you determine what is causing you difficulty and provide you with information on how to solve problems.
For problems with electrical outlets see 'troubleshooting outlets' and 'wiring light switches' for information on these two common problems.
Basic House Wiring Summary
Adding a plug or replacing a fixture is not that hard. Make sure you acquire an adequate knowledge of basic house wiring before you begin.
I know it sounds like a broken record, but make sure you take precautions when you work with electricity. It is dangerous and you can be hurt. When you are careful, it is not that hard.
Below we have listed several articles that deal with specific electrical topics. Hopefully, you can find what you need in these articles for the repair you are attempting.