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Testing electrical circuits

When dealing with electricity, even in a home context, its imperative you understand the way home systems are wired, and that you take absolutely every precaution. There are some hard and fast rules that cannot be ignored.

Is the power off?

The very first thing you should always do is check that power to the area of the house you're working on is turned off at the service entrance panel or at the subpanel.


Test before you touch

Before you touch bare wire ends, it's smart to use a neon tester to confirm that the circuit is in fact dead. There is the possibility you didn't turn off the right circuit, or there may be a short in the system in which case the wires may still be hot.

 testing circuits

Press one tester probe against a hot wire or terminal, then press the other to a neutral wire or to the grounding conductor. If the circuit is live, the tester will light up.

Make sure you hold the tester probes by their insulated ends and not their metal ends, or else you may get a shock or cause a short circuit.


Dead circuit or faulty appliance?

If an electrical appliance such as a toaster or lamp doesn't work, it does not necessarily mean the circuit is dead.

The alternative that must be tested is that the appliance itself is faulty.

If you insert the probes of the neon tester into the slots of a receptacle and the tester lights up, the circuit is still hot, indicating that it's the appliance's wiring that needs to be repaired or replaced.

Working with electricity must be approached with great care. Gloves and rubber soled shoes should always be warn, as an added precaution.

If you don't feel confident in approaching these tests alone, it's advisable to consult with an electrician. The monetary outlay is no comparison to your health and safety.

Compare quotes from electricians in your area if you want your home electrics tested.


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