There are a few basic tools that are essential for home electrical repairs and upgrades. However, these tools and supplies are usually not sold with instructions for use, so an amateur electrician may not be able to use them properly without a little bit of guidance.
Here are a few examples of these most useful tools that you should add to your collection for your next electrical project.
This tool is used to determine if an electrical component is powered before you begin to work in the area. You must never work around electrical equipment without first turning off the circuit breaker that controls the flow of power to the equipment.
The two basic types of voltage testers are wired and touchless models. Wired testers have two metal prongs connected by wires to a small light bulb. One of these prongs is placed against a terminal to which the black "hot" wire is connected, while the other prong is placed against the terminal with the white "neutral" wire connected. If the bulb lights up, the component is still powered, if not, it is safe to proceed with your project.
Touchless models are even easier to use. You simply place the tester near the component and a red light will appear to indicate that the area is powered.
Wire cutter/stripper tool
This tool is a must-have for any wiring project. It is basically a pair of snips with numbered notches in its blades. There is a solid section of the blades at the central pivot point that is used for cutting either an individual wire or an entire sheath containing multiple wires.
The real beauty of the tool is its ability to remove the insulation from the ends of individual wires without nicking or bending the wire itself. The numbered notches on the blades correspond to the gauges (thicknesses) of wire. For example, if you wish to strip the insulation from a length of 14 gauge wire, which is commonly used in residential electrical work, you simply place the wire into the notch marked "14", at the point from which you wish to strip the insulation.
You will then close the blades completely and pull the wire through the closed blades, and the insulation will be removed from that point.
Wire fish tape
Its bizarre name is inspired by both its function and appearance, but it is without equal in its efficacy. This tool is used to pull wiring through existing walls and ceilings, which is probably the most challenging electrical task for most amateur handipersons.
A wire fish tape is a thin flat metal cable wrapped around a reel (fish) and contained inside a plastic shell. It resembles a large flat measuring tape with a large handle on side (tape). The cable is extended into an opening in a wall or ceiling, then maneuvered around corners and obstructions until it reaches a second location.
The end of the wiring is then connected to the end of the cable, and the handle turned to retract the cable, along with the attached wire, to the original location. The cable is then detached, the wire cut to desired length, and all connections made.
These are the basic tools that you should add to your toolbox before you begin to tackle home electrical projects. They are useful for many different projects, and will pay for themselves many times over in convenience and time saved.
However, the most important tool in any project is your brain. Safety is the primary factor in electrical. work, and the failure to adhere to basic safety rules, such as turning off power before beginning to work, can result in serious injury or death.