While it's always a good decision to hire a professional electrical contractor for your electrical project needs, you might occasionally find yourself performing a small job around the house. As long as you've properly acquainted with the process and make safety a priority, you should be able to get the job done correctly. Paramount among staying safe during the completion of the job is ensuring that you shut the power off to the wall outlet or electrical fixture before you begin working on it. Here's how to proceed and how to be 100 percent certain that you've completed this task correctly.
Your Circuit Breaker Panel And An Important Consideration Surrounding It
If you've read up on the electrical project you'll soon be tackling, you likely know about finding your circuit breaker panel and switching off the appropriate breaker. What you might not know, however, is that you shouldn't completely trust the handwritten label next to the breaker in question. While breakers on the panel are customarily labeled correctly, there's always a chance that the builder or the previous homeowner misidentified a breaker. This could result in you switching off what you think is the correct breaker -- but it's actually connected to the current in another location and the outlet or fixture that you're about to work on will still be live. You need to use one or both of the following methods to check the current is actually dead.
- Plug Something In Or Turn The Fixture On
Perhaps the simplest way to check if the current has stopped flowing after you've switched off what you believe is the correct circuit breaker is to plug something into the outlet or turn on the fixture. Grabbing a table lamp and plugging it into an outlet that you plan to change, for example, will clearly reveal if the current has stopped -- the light will turn off. The same approach holds true if you're changing an overhead light -- simply turn it on and make sure that it shuts off when you trip the breaker.
- Use A Current Tester
There might be times that you can't use the above method to check the current. For example, if the outlet or fixture is broken, plugging in a light or turning the fixture on won't do any good. In this case, invest in a small current tester. These devices have several styles, but allow you to hold the device against any electrical outlet or fixture in your home and test if there's current flowing. If the tester reveals there is no current, you can then begin your project.
For further assistance, contact a local professional, such as one from Sycamore Engineering.