One project you might want to do is to replace old outlets and light switches with new ones. Sometimes older houses have beige or brown or black outlets and they don’t look very pretty. It’s actually a pretty simple upgrade to do and handymen like me here in Nanaimo, BC have a cool gadget to make it a little bit safer.
Also, If you’re updating outlets in the house, you might want to check what you have in your bathroom and on your kitchen counters. If you have an outlet near water it should be GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter), which means that the outlet itself will trip before it even makes it back to the breaker box to trip the breaker off. Then you can just reset the button on the outlet when things are safe again.
Before you begin changing an outlet you want to make sure the breaker is turned off. If you aren’t positive you have the right breaker turned off, or even if you think you are positive, you should still check.
This handy gadget will let you know if there is any power, and it will also tell you if things are wired correctly when you’re done putting a new outlet in place.
Just plug it into the outlet and you can see the lights light up. Now flip your breaker off and watch them go out.
If they light up and the lights say it isn’t correct, you will have to fix whatever the problem is. If they don’t light up at all and you haven’t flipped your breaker off at all you might have other issues too. At that point you will want to really make sure no power is going to the outlet. In this case you should use a multi-meter to test for voltage. This is also how you’ll test light switches.
Once you are confident that you have no power running through the lines, you can just unscrew the old outlet, unscrew the wires from it, and reconnect the new outlet in the same manner. Depending on the type of wire inside the electrical box, you may or may not have the ground wire free to connect to the outlet, it might already be grounded to the box if it’s a metal box. The ground wire is a bare copper wire. You also have a black wire and a White wire. Black is hot, White is neutral (It connects to the ground back at the breaker panel.) Outlets show right on them where the hot wire should be connected, so if you accidentally forget how the old outlet was wired, no big deal. Follow the same rules for changing out a GFCI outlet.
Once you have the outlet reconnected and secured in the box, turn the breaker back on and test it with the handy gadget I showed you above. That way you’ll know if it’s wired correctly or if you mixed something up. If you are still having trouble or don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself visit our website at www.handymennanaimo.ca to contact us.