Seven Electrical Fix-its

6 years ago

Fixing electric problems is a cinch. Not only can you save money by safely making repairs and maintaining electric equipment yourself, you can do it with full confidence in your ability. You’ll find that any uneasy feelings you have will be replaced with pride over these seven accomplishments.

Do remember to shut off the electric current at the breaker box, and never combine electric work with mind-altering substances!

  1. Replacing old or cracked outlet and light switch covers is a breeze, and also the easiest of the eight. Using a phillips or a regular screwdriver, remove the screw in the center of the old cover. A little pry of the screw driver will un-stick minor gumminess while layers of dry paint might require the use of a razor knife slicing around the cover lightly. Using the new cover, insert the screw and center the cover over the electric device. When you are certain of proper placement, turn the screw until firm, but not tight.
  2. Replacing electric outlets and switches doesn’t require a working knowledge of house wiring. Remove the cover and the screws placed on the outer edges. Play close attention to the wire placement, and draw an adequate diagram. Never, ever trust your memory! Remove the wires from the old device and correctly re-wire to the new device. Do not leave wires touching or lose. Attach the new device to the wall and replace cover.
  3. Replacing old or damaged light fixtures can be a real pain in the neck. Use of a ladder or at very least a step stool is very recommended. Locate the screws at the base of the light fixture that connect it to the unseen underneath and remove them. Study the wiring and once again make a diagram. Twist off the wire nuts and disconnect the wires from the light fixture. Inspect the new fixture and it’s wires. If the wires have not been bared yet, make a slight, rounding slice through the plastic about one half inch down. Pull off the plastic scrap and match each wire parallel to its counterpart, with the bare wires pointing in the same direction. Wire nuts should be replaced with new, preferably the inner gel type. Casually twist the bare wires around each other. Pushing in the wires while turning the nut to cover the bare wires will give a good connection and protect against electric arcing. Time to put in the connection screws and your done.
  4. There is no need to throw away your items that have a frayed electric cord. It can be repaired using black electrical tape. When purchasing this, don’t assume any black tape will do. It must be electrical tape. Examine the damage and review your options. If the cord is barely showing a wire, then wrapping the fray a few times with tape is all that is needed. If the fray is long, severe or showing both wires, then cut the cord and remove the damaged area. Remove a small section of plastic coating and slice both cords down about one inch between the wires. Twist one wire from each cord half together firmly and then lay the twisted wire against the cord. Wrap this section of cord well, being sure to cover the bare wire with overlapping tape. Repeat with the next two wires. Two or three rounds of tape will hold the spliced cord together. A job well done!
  5. To replace a cord’s plug, cut the end off and bare the wires. The new plugs vary and you should look for a hint of how to attach the wires. There is no need to worry about ‘am I connecting the wrong wire to this point?’. It is impossible to do this in electricity because it is an alternating current, not a direct current. Press the plug together and you are done!
  6. The replacement of a lamp light socket is seldom thought of. If the lamp is of sentimental value however, it might be best to replace the electric socket instead of trashing the lamp. Unscrew the top from the base and remove the light socket from the wiring. Be careful not to pull the wire out of the lamp when connecting the new socket. After all, you can’t reinsert the socket through a small hole. Putting wires on the new light socket takes only a minute since the procedure is so basic. Afterwards, just screw it back onto the base and you’re done.
  7. Maintaining an inside breaker box is relatively easy and can prevent electrical fires. Electricity can be turned off at the main breaker within the box, but for absolute protection shut it off at the main breaker box outside. When looking at the inside electric box, you should notice bare wires attached to the breakers by screws. Over time these screws may loosen up and promote arcing. Tighten all screws. Inspect for any signs of burnt wires or equipment. If there is a burnt wire and it is only at the end, cut the burnt piece off and reconnect to the breaker. Wire should have the insulating plastic as far to the end as possible. If there is a burnt or faulty breaker, replace immediately.

If however, there is major burn damage, the electricity should remain off and an electrician consulted.

Congratulations, you are an amateur electrician! Not only did you get the job done, you did it safely. Now you can spend the money that would have went to pay the certified electrician.