Electrical Repair

Tips on fixing your electrical wiring and appliances

Home electrical projects are a daunting task to many homeowners. With some basic knowledge of electrical wiring and currents, along with adherence to safety procedures, simple home electrical repairs can prove to be quite manageable.

Electrical Basics

Most homes in the U.S. have service from the electrical utility in the form of two 120-volt wires and one neutral wire. Volts, watts and amps are the commonly used terms to measure the flow of electrical currents. As an analogy, voltage is similar to water pressure in a plumbing system; volts measure the "pressure" of the electrical current as it passes through the wire. Wattage measures the actual quantity of electrical current traveling through the wire. Amperage is a ratio that consists of the wattage divided by the voltage. If electrical appliances are rated for 15 amps, for example, this means that they can handle up to 1800 watts when supplied with a 120-volt current.

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Home electrical systems are equipped with important safety devices known as circuit breakers and fuses. In general, older homes use fuse boxes, and newer or remodeled homes use circuit breakers. Both circuit breakers and fuses serve the same function: to stop the flow of electricity when the system detects an electrical overload. Possible causes of a circuit breaker or a fuse interrupting the flow of electricity include:

  • Too many electrical devices operating on a single circuit
  • A faulty electrical device
  • A short circuit (where the electrical current travels on a path other than the one originally intended)

Household Electrical Repairs

When working with electricity, safety guidelines are imperative to prevent injury or even death. Always use appropriate safety gear, which includes wearing protective clothing and rubber-soled shoes. Before performing service on an electrical device, make sure it is disconnected from all electrical sources. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to the letter. When in doubt, contact a professional electrical repair company or a master electrician.

Make sure you have a complete set of instructions regarding the electrical project before you start. Home repair manuals and many Internet sites have excellent step-by-step instructions for electrical projects. Some home electrical repairs that you may be able to undertake include:

  • Resetting a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter
  • Repairing a short circuit
  • Replacing a wall switch
  • Running electrical wires inside a wall
  • Replacing an outlet
  • Replacing an incandescent light fixture