DIY Electrical testing for your Auburn CA Home


DIY Electrical testing for your Auburn CA Home;

If the thought of working on an electrical circuit in your Nevada County home makes you cringe, then investing in a good quality multi-meter, voltmeter, ticker tracer or a neon-light tester should be your first order of business. These testers can be inexpensive and are well worth the investment to help protect you from an electric shock. They can be purchased at your local Grass Valley, Ca hardware store or Auburn, Ca home center.

1. Testers and How They Work

A basic neon light tester consist of a neon light bulb that is attached to two leads used for checking if a circuit is “hot” (electrified)or “dead”(not electrified). When you press these two leads into an outlet, the bulb will light if the circuit is “hot” or on. If it doesn’t light, then the circuit is “dead” or off.

Always check to see if the tester is working properly by checking a circuit that you know is working properly before moving on. To double-check that an outlet is actually off, remove the outlet cover and test the screws on the sides of the outlet. But be sure to be safe, the outlet may still be hot(electric). A good habit to practice is to always assume the circuit is electrified or hot, in other words just don’t touch any bare wire with your hands. You can also plug a lamp or vacuum into the outlet just to put your mind at ease.

2. Outlets and Testing

 To test an electrical outlet in your Grass Valley home do the following. A typical outlet has three holes built into it. The shorter straight slot is the “hot” (electric) lead. The longer straight slot is the “neutral” lead (if it’s wired correctly). The slot that looks like a small circle hole is the ground.

To test the ground, test between the “hot” (electrified) and “ground” slots. If the circuit is working and you have a good “ground” connection, the tester will light up. The tester will also light if you test between the “hot” (electric) and “neutral” slots.

 There are plug-in circuit testers are available that will test your circuit for you via three neon lights. They test for an open neutral, lack of a ground, wires on the wrong terminals, and no power. This is a great inexpensive tool to have in your tool box.

3. Switches and Testing

To test a switch in your Auburn home, remove the cover plate and check from the “hot” (electric) screw on the side of the switch to the bare copper wire (ground) or the metal box. Keep in mind that the box may not be grounded, especially if it’s a plastic box.

4. Testing Light Fixtures

When checking the light fixture wiring in your Grass Valley home, take down the light and using a “tick-tracer”, test the circuit to see if it working. This tester lights when you place it close to a wire that has current flowing through it. Again always double check your testers by testing a known working outlet.

To double-check the circuit, first turn off the electricity to that circuit by turning off the light switch. Now, remove the wire nuts from both the black “hot” wires and the white “neutral” wires. Now with the wires exposed you can use your neon light tester. Separate these sets of wires so that they are not touching one another. If the wires touch and they’re hot, look out sparks will fly.

  Turn the circuit back on and check between the black and white wires with the voltmeter or neon tester. Be careful not to touch the exposed wires with your fingers. The voltmeter should show a reading of around 120 volts. Likewise, the neon tester should light if the circuit is working properly.

   That’s it. But I can’t stress enough the fact that you need to be careful and always assume you’re working with electrified lines. And another thing if you don’t feel comfortable, don’t mess with it. With electricity it’s always better to be safe than sorry or dead. There are times in everyone’s life where its just better to hire a professional. Only you can decide when to hire someone.

If you get in over your head or just don’t want to mess with it, give ABT Plumbing, Electric, Heat & Air a call and we’ll be there to help. 530-272-9120

ABT Plumbing, Electric, Heat & Air serves:  Nevada and Placer County, Grass Valley, Ca. Alta Sierra, Ca. Nevada City, Ca. Penn Valley, Ca. Rough and Ready, Ca. Lake Wildwood, Ca. Smartsville, Ca. Colfax, Auburn, Ca. Lake of the Pines, Ca. Meadow Vista, Ca. Newcastle, Ca. and all places in-between.