Home Electrical Repairs in the Real World

Here are some of tools and skills you need to complete relatively simple home electrical repairs.



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A typical ceiling light box. Many wires are joined here, but for replacement, focus on the wires connected to the light.
ILLUSTRATION: THOMAS MOORE
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A common wiring scenario. Notice how the double terminals on the receptacle function as a splice between the incoming and outgoing hot (black) and neutral (white) wires. With only one ground terminal (top), the receptacle needs a short pigtail ground wire, which is wirenutted to the ground wires of the two cables, plus another pigtail attached to the metal box. On a plastic box, the second pigtail is eliminated.
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A ground fault circuit interpreter (GFCI), with TEST and RESET buttons.
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An outlet receptacle with hot, neutral, and ground pigtail wires attached.
ILLUSTRATION: THOMAS MOORE
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Replacing a three-way switch. Locate terminals according to color and/or position, then transfer one wire at a time from the old switch (top) to the new switch (bottom).
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The needle-nose pliers grasp the copper fin that connects the upper and lower hot terminals of the receptacle. In some cases, the fin between the terminals and the neutral fin must be removed.
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An outlet attached to three cables with the use of pigtail wires.
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A properly formed terminal end is ready to slip under its screw. After stripping about 3/4" of insulation off the wire, form the hook with needle-nosed pliers. Place it under the screw, hook going clockwise, and tighten screw.
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A light switch connected by plugging stripped wires directly into designated holes in the back. 
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Use of a wirenut to connect wires. Be sure no bare wire is exposed, tug wires to check, and tape.
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Premade wire-bends allow device to push back into the box easily.
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The box marked with an "X" is a sub-feed fuse box,deriving its power from the main entrance box to the right. A sub-feed box doesn't have to be right next to the main panel. You could find them far away.
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A modern, precisely labeled main entrance panel. Always check with a test light to make sure the circuit you're working on is dead.
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