How to Check Wiring in Your Home

The electrical wiring in your home is the most important element that can influence your home safety. The electricity is always on every day of the year for the life of the home. A mis-wiring, deteriorated circuits or overloading the system will eventually catch up and create problems. At the worst, a home fire caused by faulty wiring can destroy a home, a lifetime of memories and even deaths. Running a yearly check on the wiring is part of the preventative maintenance of any home.

Things You'll Need

  • Volt-ohm meter
  • Small lamp
  • 2 cell phones
  • Screwdriver


    • 1

      Trace the circuits back to the breaker box and label each breaker for the circuits they control if this is the first time you audit the electrical wiring. The inexpensive way is to work as a two-person team, with one person plugging a small lamp into a circuit and the other person stationed at the circuit box turning the switches one by one until the lamp goes off. That location and circuit is then noted on a sheet of paper next to the box.

    • 2

      Check all the circuits with a volt-ohm meter to ensure that you have power at all outlets. Set the meter to read volts, and place the black probe into the left side of the outlet and the red probe into the right side. The reading should be about 120V.

    • 3

      Check the temperature of a circuit after appliances have been plugged in and turned on for 30 minutes. The faceplate should be cool to the touch. If you feel heat, there is a fault in the wiring that needs to be determined and then fixed.

    • 4

      Check the ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets. The GFCI outlets are orange and are normally found in the bathrooms, kitchen, garage and laundry room. Plug a small lamp into the outlet and press the button in the middle. The lamp should go out when you press the button, and come back on when you press it a second time. If it does not, then have a qualified electrician examine the outlet.

    • 5

      Test the circuit breakers in the circuit box by shutting down all the appliances in your home and switching the breakers back and forth three times. This ensures they are not stuck in the open position.

    • 6

      Open the outlets after shutting down the main electrical circuit and check for signs that the wiring is becoming loose or the insulation is brittle. This is especially important in areas that have no heat in the winter time.

Tips & Warnings

  • Working around electricity is extremely dangerous. If you do not feel knowledgeable or confident enough to audit your wiring, bring in a qualified person to help you.
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  • Photo Credit Zedcor Wholly Owned/ Images

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