House Wiring Rules

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Many repairs to your house's electrical system can be completed on a do-it-yourself basis, sparing you the trouble and expense of hiring a professional electrician. The electricity used by your home's lights and appliances, however, is powerful enough to seriously injure or even kill you; it's therefore crucial that you perform all house-wiring repairs in a safe, careful manner.

Shut Off the Power

  • You should never work on a live circuit, which is one with electricity flowing through it. Before beginning work, shut off power to the area you'll be working on at your home's circuit breaker or fuse box. Also, tape a note over the box stating that work is in progress so that another family member won't accidentally switch the power back on while you're working.

Test for Electricity

  • Even if you've shut off the power at the breaker box, use a handheld voltage tester to check the area you're working on for live current. You may have switched off the wrong breaker, or a previous wiring error may still be bringing live current to the area. A voltage tester can quickly verify that the power is indeed off and that it's safe to begin work.

Dress Safely

  • Wearing the right work clothes can protect you from injury, both electrical and work-related. Wear rubber-soled shoes to insulate yourself against current flowing through you to the ground. Also wear a pair of work gloves to protect your hands from sharp wires and electrical boxes. Additionally, a pair of safety goggles and a dust mask offer protection from debris and dust, especially when using power tools to install electrical hardware.

Work One-Handed

  • If you grab a live electrical circuit with both hands, the current flows quickly from one hand to the other, passing through the heart as it does so. Working with one hand betters your chances of surviving an accidental electrocution. It's therefore prudent to use only one hand whenever possible, especially when testing a circuit that may have current flowing through it.

Check the Electric Code

  • Research both the National Electric Code and your locality's electric codes. These not only provide the requirements your house-wiring repairs must meet to pass an inspection, they offer direction on how to safely install electric wiring for the various appliances and fixtures in your house.

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References

  • "Wiring a House, 4th Ed."; Rex Cauldwell; 2007
  • Photo Credit electric outlet image by Dawn Williams from Fotolia.com electrician image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com
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