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Testing and Safety Equipment Needed for Completing DIY Electrical Wiring Projects in Your Home

May 9, 2010

Electrical testersI receive lots of electrical questions on this site and one thing that I’ve noticed is that most do it yourselfers do not have the proper equipment for testing electricity. To troubleshoot and test your electrical circuits you need some safety and test equipment.

Before we get too involved in this article I want to stress the fact that working with live electricity can be very dangerous. Always turn off the power and verify that the power is off before opening up any electrical boxes. Always close up and cover all electrical boxes before turning the power back on. That said, there are going to be times where you have to open up the connections and test the wiring with the power on. There are ways to do this safely and part of this is using the proper tools and testing equipment.

A good pair of safety glasses is always a good idea. A good pair of leather gloves will provide a layer of insulation between your hands and the bare wires. Please don’t misunderstand the leather gloves and think that you are protect from electricity with them. Leather gloves are not rated for working with live electricity. If they are dry and have no holes, they will provide a limited layer of insulation. In my opinion, every little bit helps. However, even with the leather gloves on, you still shouldn’t touch the bare ends of the wires.

A good multimeter will help you troubleshoot and measure most everything on your circuit. A Wiggy or solenoid voltage tester is real handy when troubleshooting voltage problems. A plug tester will take a lot of the guess work out when troubleshooting and testing your outlets. In my opinion, every homeowner should have a plug tester or better yet a GFCI receptacle tester. This will test the GFCI receptacles and the standard receptacles and outlets. The non-contact voltage tester is very handy for a quick check for voltage and to determine which is the hot wire with knob and tube wiring.

Do you use these tools for troubleshooting and testing the electrical wiring in your home? Do you have other testing equipment that you use or recommend?

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2 Responses to “Testing and Safety Equipment Needed for Completing DIY Electrical Wiring Projects in Your Home”

  1. Ben on May 11th, 2010 8:36 am

    Can you explain why I might want an “auto-ranging” multimeter and why I might not? Basically, I don’t understand what that feature means.

  2. Wayne Gilchrist on May 14th, 2010 5:09 am

    Auto ranging is where the meter automatically selects the range for the setting which you chose. Let’s say that you are troubleshooting the voltage on your doorbell transformer, which is approximately 16 volts. Then you need to check the voltage at your range which is approximately 250 volts. The meter would automatically select the different voltage ranges needed without you needing to do anything.

    A non auto ranging multimeter will have several selections for different voltage, resistance and amperage settings. You will need to select the correct range for the type of testing that you are doing.