Working with Electric

The DIYer

The first and most important rule is to treat all electrical wires as if they are alive (have power), even if it checks as off. Here are a few informational tips to help keep you safe.


Standard rules:

1- Black (or red) wires are hot (carry power to or from an outlet, switch, etc.).

2- White wires are neutral (common).

3- Green wires are ground.

4- All wires should be checked with a Proximity Tester to be sure there is no power on it.

5- On outlets and light switches, the power (red or black) goes to the gold side, the neutral goes to the silver side and the ground goes under the green screw at the top.



1- When pulling an outlet or switch out of an electrical box, always hold it from the tabs on the top and bottom (never by the sides)

2- When screwing on a wire nut or taping wires, always turn (wrap the tape) clockwise.

3- When working on a circuit with a switch, shut the power off at the circuit breaker (not the switch) to avoid stray voltage.

4- When using a screwdriver, wrap tape around the shaft to avoid accidental contact with grounds or other wires.



1- Always double-check your work. A loose (or untaped) wire can cause shorts, sparks and/or fires.

2- Always make sure all fixtures (outlets, lights, etc.) are properly secured. A loose fixture can cause pulling on the wire and future shorts.

3- Always make sure you are not grounded. Don’t use metal ladders, shoes without rubber soles, etc.

4- Always limit your work to things you’re comfortable doing. Being nervous can cause you to make fatal mistakes.



Normally I avoid topics like working with electric, however lately I am seeing more and more people doing minor electrical repairs, so I felt it was important to share some of the basics with you. If you have any questions about what you’re doing, Don’t Do It (or stop what your doing) and call someone in.

Disclaimer: I do not encourage people to do their own electrical repairs, but if you’re going to do it, I want you to know the basics.

If there is a project you would like to see in The DIYer, email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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