If you are a homeowner, then you may get the occasional itch to take on a sophisticated do-it-yourself project or two. While there are some projects that lend themselves to hands-on efforts by the property owner, anything having to do with the electrical wiring in the house is probably best left to the expert – a professional, licensed contractor.
However, that does not mean you shouldn’t understand how the wiring is set up in your house or other aspects of electricity in the home. In this blog we will briefly review electrical wiring and what you must know before beginning any home electrical project.
To begin with, the average home in the United States has two hot wires, a neutral wire, and a ground wire coming into the house. The stated voltage they bring is 120/240 volts, but often it lingers around 115/230 volts. Called ‘single phase’ or ‘alternating current’ – this is the most common type of wiring found in residences. The most valuable thing about AC is that it can be transported over long distances.
The first AC power plant opened in 1894! The voltage of 120/240 accommodates most appliances and needs of a home. For example, lights and most small electrical devices use about 115 volts and larger items such as a stove or air conditioning require 240 volts.
Because electricity is so dangerous, we will again caution you – do NOT attempt to repair the electrical wiring in your home by yourself. This is the time to call in a contractor. Most people don’t realize there are a variety of local, county and state codes that must be met when working with electricity – this is also a job for the professional.
If you want to troubleshoot problems, there are some safety procedures you should follow.
Always be sure the power is off before proceeding.
Don protective gear. This could include safety goggles and a face shield, hard hat and safety shoes, insulating rubber gloves that have leather protectors and insulating sleeves, and, finally, flame-resistant clothes.
Find the circuit breakers in your home and identify what each circuit controls. There are usually a number of them, even in studio apartments. It is valuable to know in advance what circuit breakers go to what outlets / items in the event the power goes out and things need to be restarted.