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Wired Up

August 20, 2010

This column is not about being wired by drinking too much coffee, energy drink, or caffeine infused soda. This is about knowing the basics of the wiring around your home.

 A lot of people I know are extremely scared of electricity. It’s true that electricity is dangerous but with the proper knowledge you will be able to make basic electrical repairs around your home. I want to give you some basics this week and next week follow up with some tips for basic wiring. (As a kid I once stuck a pair of scissors into a socket and found out that you could blow yourself across the room).

 The wire that supplies the switch with power is the “hot” side of the power supply. This is usually a black or red wire and is the constant power source that comes from the electrical panel.

 The hot wire must have a neutral wire to make a complete circuit. The neutral wires are usually white or gray.

 Electrical systems in the past 50 years have also included a ground wire. The ground wire is what is used to safeguard against electrical fire or shock in case there is an electrical fault. A fault can be caused by a loose wire touching metal or any other unintended discharge of energy. The ground wire will take the excess energy back to the ground or to your electrical box where it will blow a fuse or trip the breaker. The grounding wire is usually green (insulated) or even sometimes bare.

 If you are working with an electrical system that is over 50 years old I strongly recommend that you contact an electrician. This wiring is most likely not up to current code and needs the expertise of a licensed electrician. Do not attempt to work with this electricity on your own. In other words: Don’t be stupid.

 It is easy to understand electricity if you realize that it is basically a big circle of energy. Treat that circle of energy with respect so that you are not shocked or electrocuted.

 And, please, always turn off the power when working with electricity. Although most people think it is harmless, 120v of household current can kill you.

 A little knowledge can go a long way. Come back next week for more information on electricity and wiring safely.

  1. mls permalink
    August 21, 2010 9:41 pm

    Can’t wait to learn more!!!!

    • September 8, 2010 12:45 pm

      You will see a whole column on things to do to get ready for the winter. I liked the new one from Thomas on marking the driveway. That is something I would not have thought of.

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