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Electrical Wiring FAQ (Part 1 of 2)
Section - What do I need in the way of tools?

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Top Document: Electrical Wiring FAQ (Part 1 of 2)
Previous Document: Can I do my own wiring? Extra pointers?
Next Document: What is UL listing?
See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge

	First, there's the obvious -- a hammer, a drill, a few
	screwdrivers, both straight and Phillips-head.  If you're 
	lucky enough to live in Canada (or find a source of CSA-approved
	devices) you need Robertson ("square recess") screwdrivers
	(#1 and #2) instead of phillips.

	For drilling a few holes, a 3/4" or 1" spade bit and 1/4" or
	3/8" electric drill will do.  If you're doing a lot, or
	are working with elderly lumber, we recommend a 1/2" drill
	(right-angle drills are wonderful.  Can be rented) and
	3/4" or 1" screw-point auger drill bits.  These bits pull
	you through, so they're much faster and less fatiguing, even
	in 90 year old hardwood timbers.

	Screw-driver bits are useful for drills, expecially if you
	install your electrical boxes using screws (drywall screws
	work well).
	For stripping wire, use a real wire stripper, not a knife or
	ordinary wire cutters.  Don't buy the $3 K-mart "combo stripper,
	crimper and bottle opener" types.  You should expect to pay
	$15 to $20 for a good "plier-type" pair.  It will have sized
	stripping holes, and won't nick or grab the wire - it should
	be easy to strip wire with it.  One model has a small hole in the
	blade for forming exact wire loops for screw terminals.  There
	are fancier types (autostrip/cut), but they generally aren't
	necessary, and pros usually don't use them.

	A pair of diagonal side cutter pliers are useful for clipping ends
	in constricted places.  Don't use these for stripping wire.

	You will need linesman pliers for twisting wires for wire connectors.

	You should have a pair of needle-nose pliers for fiddling
	inside boxes and closing loops, but it's better to form wire
	loops with a "loop former hole" on your wire stripper - more

	If you're using non-metallic cable, get a cable stripper for
	removing the sheath.  Or, do what some pros do, they nick the
	end of the sheath, grab the ground wire with a pair of pliers,
	and simply rip the sheath back using the ground wire as a
	"zipper", and cut the sheath off.  You shouldn't try to strip
	the sheath with a knife point, because it's too easy to
	slash the insulation on the conductors.  Apparently Stanley
	utility knives fitted with linoleum cutters (hooked blades)
	can be used to strip sheath, but there is still the possibility
	that you'll gouge the conductors.

	For any substantial amount of work with armored cable, it's well
	worth your while to invest in a rotary cable splitter (~US$ 18).
	Hack saws are tricky to use without cutting into the wire
	or the insulation.

	Three-prong outlet testers are a quick check for properly-wired
	outlets.  About $6.  Multimeters tell you more, but are a lot more
	expensive, and probably not worth it for most people.  A simple
	voltage sensor, which can detect potential through an insulated
	wire not supplying any devices, is extremely helpful; they cost
	about US$ 10 at Radio Shack.

	You should have a voltage detector - to check that the wires are
	dead before doing work on them.  Neon-bulb version are cheap ($2-3)
	and work well.  If you get more serious, a "audible alarm" type is
	good for tracing circuits without a helper.  (Though I've been known
	to lock the drill on, and hit breakers until the scream stops ;-)

	For running wires through existing walls, you need fish tape.
	Often, two tapes are needed, though sometimes, a bent hanger or
	a length of thin chain will suffice.  Fish tapes can be rented.

	Electrical tape.  Lots of it ;-)  Seriously, a good and competent
	wiring job will need very little tape.  The tape is useful for
	wrapping dicy insulation in repair work.  Another use is to wrap 
	around the body of outlets and switches to cover the termination
	screws - I don't do this, but drywall contractors prefer it (to
	prevent explosions when the drywall knife collides with a live outlet
	that has no cover plate).

User Contributions:

Report this comment as inappropriate
Dec 21, 2011 @ 12:00 am
In a fire protection circuit, circuts are shown witha no example 6,8,4etc. what it mean?these circuits are connected between smode detector,junction box etc
Report this comment as inappropriate
Dec 24, 2011 @ 12:12 pm
My daughter dropped a small necklace behind her dresser. The necklace crossed a plug terminal and shorted the receptacle.
I bought a new receptacle and installed the same. I still have no power I suspect there could be a bigger problem,this is aluminum wiring.
I've killed the breaker and call an electrician but am curious as to what happened.P.s. there is a dimmer switch on the same circuit.
Report this comment as inappropriate
Feb 24, 2012 @ 11:11 am
Regarding new construction wiring and running 12/2 and 14/3 wire in the same box.

I have multiple switches to lights. Ran 12/2 and 14/3 into switch box and inspector wrote correction needed.

What should I have done instead?

thank you
Report this comment as inappropriate
Nov 26, 2012 @ 9:21 pm
Does a grounding electrode facilitate the operation of a OCPD, to clear a ground fault ?
Report this comment as inappropriate
Mar 18, 2013 @ 10:10 am
Assuming you are installing two switches in a two switch box, you probably should have used 14/2 and 14/3 instead of replacing 14/2 with 12/2. If you are only installing one switch in a one switch box, you should only have one cable in the box.
P k
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 26, 2014 @ 10:10 am
I prefer to use nothing smaller than12 awg /the smallest sized wire on a circuit determines the allowable ampacity
Ex: 15 amp-14awg. 12awg-20amp only rule for thumb other factors such as continuous load,heating and others if you do not know the safe NEC rules then please call a qualified journeyman Electrician better be safe

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Top Document: Electrical Wiring FAQ (Part 1 of 2)
Previous Document: Can I do my own wiring? Extra pointers?
Next Document: What is UL listing?

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM