Electrical repairs are a type of work that even some of the most experienced do-it-yourselfers will stay away from. While you definitely shouldn't try rewiring your home or fixing underground wiring, there are a few simple electrical repairs that virtually anyone can do if they are careful and follow the right steps. Before you try these projects, remember to turn off the power to any electrical outlets or devices before you repair them.
Fixing Damaged Plugs
Microwaves, lamps, blenders, and all other electrical appliances have plugs that need to be properly maintained. Cords that are frayed or nicked and plugs that are missing a blade are serious fire hazards that should be repaired as soon as possible. Most appliances have polarized plugs with one blade that is larger than the other, and the replacement plug that you use should always be polarized as well.
The first step for replacing a damaged plug is to identify the neutral wire. Often the neutral wire will have a white stripe on the outside of the rubber insulation. If not, it will be the white wire inside the insulation. Remove the old plug, pull the wires apart, and strip the last ¾ of an inch of them. After you have twisted the stripped ends of the wires, open the new plug and attach the neutral wire to the screw on the large-blade side of the plug. Attach the other wire to the screw on the side of the smaller blade. You can now close the new plug over the wire, and the repair is finished as long as none of the stripped wire is showing outside of the plug.
Fixing Doorbells That Don't Ring
There can be a few different problems that cause your doorbell not to ring, but fortunately they are all easy to fix. The first thing that you should check for is any exposed wire that runs from your doorbell button, the chime, or the transformer. While there is a lot of wire inside your walls that you can't check yourself, wires outside the walls that are exposed to the elements become damaged much more often. You can simply use twist-on connectors to bridge the gap where wire has become frayed and broken.
If the wires are in good shape, the next most likely culprit is the doorbell button itself. Weather conditions will often cause the electrical contacts inside of your doorbell button to become caked with dust and dirt that prevents it from sending a signal to the chime. Open up the doorbell button and use sandpaper to clean the contacts, and then try touching them together to see if the doorbell rings.
The transformer is the final thing that you should check to repair your doorbell. The doorbell transformer will often be found near your breaker box. While the transformer will require a professional to repair or replace, you can test it yourself to determine if it is causing the problem. Set a multimeter to read voltages and touch the ends to the low voltage terminals of the transformer. A reading of around 16 volts is normal, so if your multimeter is reading less you should call an electrician to replace the transformer.
Installing a New Outlet
Replacing electrical outlets are one of the simplest and easiest DIY electrical projects. The first step is to use a multimeter to read the terminals to double check that the power is off. Next, you can use a screwdriver to remove the faceplate of the outlet and unscrew the outlet from the wall.
After you pull out the old outlet, take note of where the wires are attached to the outlet. Use the screwdriver to detach all the wires and set the outlet aside. To install the new outlet, reverse the process by attaching the wires to the new outlet in the same places that they were before, screwing the new outlet into the wall, and screwing on the new faceplate.
Small-scale electrical repairs are not too hard to learn and master. Use this guide and you can add three new DIY projects to your handyman repertoire. For more information, or for help with these and other electrical projects, contact a local electrical company, like All American Air & Electric, Inc.