How To Test And Change a Circuit Breaker

Circuit breakers trip as a safety feature, sometimes for one reason or another they just get over-loaded and the breaker will kick off. All you need to do is to go to the breaker box and turn it back on. But, what do you do when you turn it back on and there’s still no electricity?

I’m going to explain how you can test the circuit breaker to see if it’s the actual breaker that’s bad, or if it’s the wiring that has became faulty. To check the breaker you’ll need to turn off all of the power by throwing the main breaker to the home.

You will need to have easy access to the breaker to test it. Remove the screws in the breaker box panel and remove the entire front panel so that you can see the breakers. It’s very important to remember that even though you’ve turned off the main breaker to the home, there will still be electricity on the wire running to the main breaker. Keep your hands and tools away from the area where the main breaker is located at all times!

To check the breaker you’ll need a test meter called a ammeter. It will have two test leads attached to it, place one on the metal screw that is in the circuit breaker itself and the other one on the neutral bar that is inside the panel. To identify the neutral bar, make sure that it’s the one that has all white wires going into it.

Set the ammeter to voltage and position it on 250 volts to test the breaker. You should not see any reading on the meter when testing the breaker. Regular breakers are single width, if the breaker has a double width it’s a 220 volt breaker. In this case, you’ll need to place both test leads on the breaker. Attach one lead to each of the metal screws on the bottom of the circuit breaker. Again, there shouldn’t be any reading.

If the ammeter hasn’t shown a reading, it’s safe to remove the circuit breaker. You will need a flat screwdriver to loosen the screws to remove the wires from the breaker. The hot wire will usually be either black or red and located on the left side. Once you’ve got the wire loose, pull it to the out side of the panel just enough to keep it from falling down inside the wall.

Use the screwdriver to gently pry out the breaker. Just insert the screwdrivers end about 1/8″ behind the breaker. Don’t pry to hard or you will crack or damage the breaker next to the one your removing. You just need to pry it up enough so that you can get hold of it with your fingers and pull it out. Pull the breaker towards you and slightly tilt it to the left.

Once you’ve removed the breaker, push the switch all the way to the off position then all the way to the on position. If the switch remains in the on position without kicking off, the circuit breaker is good. If it kicks off, you’ll need to replace it with a new one.

You should take the breaker with you if you need to purchase a new one to make sure that you get the right size. Repeat the above steps in reverse to install the new breaker. Make sure that the breaker will slide back into place and the push firmly until it fits flush with the rest of the breakers in the box.

How To Install Under-Cabinet Lighting

The kitchen is one room of the home where bright light is very important. Most homes only have lighting fixtures in the ceilings of kitchens which make it hard to see if the light is behind you. But, you can easily add lighting under neath the cabinets to provide light exactly where you need it most.

There are various types of under cabinet lights to choose from and they come in various types of materials such as plastic and brass. So, finding some that will match your kitchen shouldn’t be hard. And, depending on how the bottom of your cabinets are made, some lights won’t even show.

With all the emphasis on making homes greener, LED lighting is becoming very popular. However, they are still quite expensive. The green side to LED lights is that they use very little energy and provide lot’s of light. Most have settings that allow you to go from low to high depending on what you need.

Both fluorescent and halogen light fixtures are also popular for under cabinet fixtures. Fluorescent lights are probably the most common, the bulbs are long lasting and while the light is bright it’s not blinding. Halogen bulbs generally last about one fourth as long as fluorescent and touching the bulbs will cause them to burn out even faster.

Puck lights are great choices for areas that require extra light, but don’t have the space for large fixtures. Some puck lights are just an inch thick, they’re very compact so they can be used in the smallest of places. They hook together in a string similar to Christmas lights.

They are usually sold in packs of two, but you can find them in larger packs. You just mount them under the cabinet and then connect them together. Fittings are included with the lights that just snap together with the last fitting having a plug-in. Puck lights can be found in several colors and materials.

Before you actually install the light under your cabinet, you should plug it in and move it around to get the best location. But, most manufacturers will recommend that the light be installed as close to the front of the cabinet as you can get it. Once you’ve found the position for the light, mark the screw holes on the cabinet bottom with a pencil if you can get to them.

Many light fixtures even come with paper guides to show you exactly where to make the screw holes. But, if the one you purchased don’t have a guide, then you’ll have to measure and mark the holes yourself. It’s much easier to get the holes right if you draw and outline of the fixture on the bottom of the cabinet.

Once you’ve got the cabinet marked, measure down from each end of the light to the hole and then measure across. Make the same measurements on the diagram and make pilot holes for the screws. Some cabinet bottoms are fairly thin, if yours is too thin for the screw, you can add some washers to keep the screw from going up inside the cabinet. You can also purchase shorter screws instead of using the ones that came with the light.

After you’ve got your pilot holes drilled all that’s left is to install the light fixture. Just follow the instructions to properly attach the light to the cabinet. One thing that you should consider before deciding where to put the light, is how you’re going to plug it in. Unless you want to run wires to the fixture, try to install them as close to plug-ins as you can.

How To Install A Motion Light Switch For Added Safety

If you’ve often found yourself searching a wall in the dark for a light switch, you might want to consider a motion detecting switch! Similar to a motion detecting light, these switches will detect any movement and automatically turn the light on for you!

These switches are great for garages, basements and tool sheds. But, they’re also very handy to have in the home to provide hallway, or bathroom light during the night. They’re very easy to install and you can do it yourself with just a few simple tools.

You just replace one of your regular light switches with the motion activated switch. Many models also feature a delayed setting, you can have the light switch off automatically at a set time after you leave the room. It’s a great way to add safety to dark areas of your home.

Anytime that you work with electricity the most important thing to remember is to turn off the breaker to the outlet or room you’re working in. Most breakers are labeled for each room, but if you’re not sure exactly which one you need to turn off, turn the light on and keeping flipping the breakers off until the light goes off.

Remove the cover plate from the light switch, it’s a good idea to use a circuit tester to check to make sure that there’s no electricity on the wires as a added precaution. If you’re sure that’s the electricity is off, remove the two screws that hold the receptacle in place.

There will be three wires that are connected into the back of the switch. One will have a white vinyl covering and one will be black, the third wire will be bare and it is just the ground wire. But, the ground wire won’t be used when installing the motion detector switch.

You can loosen the screws or braces that hold the wires in place, but it’s best to just cut them off. Starting with a fresh piece of wire can help prevent breakage from crimped areas in the old connections. Once you’ve removed the wires, cut the vinyl with a utility knife or a wire stripper if you have one.

If you’re using a knife, just cut the vinyl all the way around the wire about an inch back on the wire and pull the vinyl off. Now the wires can be hooked into the new receptacle. Some models vary in the way the wires are connected. But, generally the wire will either be wrapped around a screw and tightened or there will be little tabs that you pull out and insert the end of the wire into a hole closing the tabs back against the wire.

Follow the manufacturers instructions as to which wire to place in each connection. With most switches it doesn’t matter where you put a specific color wire, but make sure before you hook them up. After you’ve got the ends of the wires connected to the new switch, push any excess wire back inside the plastic box and into the wall out of the way.

Place the switch into the box in the correct position lining up the screw holes and secure it into place. You will also need to set your controls, the instructions will tell you how to set the amount of time before the light comes on when someone enters the room and the amount of time to stay on after someone leaves the room. Once you’ve got your settings adjusted, attach the cover plate to the switch and you’re done!

How To Turn Off The Power In Your Home

If you are replacing a light fixture inside of your home or are doing some other type of electrical work on your circuit you will need to turn off your home’s power to the area you are working on in order to remain safe. You will also need to run the power off if you have an electrical outlet that is sparking. (more…)

Running Underground Cable

There are a few ways that you can run underground wire safely. The easiest and most practical way is the 12-inch deep PVC conduit method of running a general 15-amp line. You can also use the 12-inch deep direct burial of underground feeder (UF) cable. (more…)

Replacing an Electrical Outlet in Your Home

There are many fires that occur there is old wiring in the house. If there is old wiring in the home one of the things you should do is replace your outlets. It does not cost a lot of money and it can lessen the chances of a fire in your home. (more…)

DIY Wiring For Light Fixtures

Wiring outlets and light fixtures can be a dangerous and take a significant amount of time and energy but with proper care and using safety equipment you can complete the task without much trouble.  You should always ensure that any electrical wiring you complete is in line with building codes and that it has been connected properly. (more…)

DIY Wiring For Your Home

Wiring your home is no easy task.  With many hundreds of feet of wiring to complete, it can seem overwhelming when you begin.  But with a few simple tips and ideas to help you out, you will find that wiring your home is something that almost anyone can do. (more…)

Do It Yourself Dimmer Switch Installation

Many homes today have very harsh overhead lighting. This comes on the heals of people trying to lower the cost of lighting the home by using larger bulbs in limited locations throughout the home. This effort does help in some manners but in other ways it can be very difficult to maintain a comfortable air in the home. (more…)

Do It Yourself Electrical Updates

If you are upgrading your home electrical service, you should consider the addition of a “whole house” surge protector. The power grid is overloaded and power surges accompanied with brown outs are happening more frequently across North America. (more…)

Do It Yourself New Wiring

There are times when new things are added to a home that require some wiring. This is true of a good many things that people like to add when doing one of the many home remodeling or improvement projects which can include new walls, additions or basement finishes. (more…)

Do It Yourself Lighting Changes

We aren’t all blessed with bucket loads of money to throw at improving our living space. Here are a few tips that can change the way you feel in your home by simply changing the lighting arrangements. (more…)

Do It Yourself Outlet Replacement

Few things can be worse then plugging something into the wall and then having no power. This will of course happen at the exact time when you are in a hurry and need to get something done, but there is little that you can do to take care of it. The issue is that outlets will go bad whenever they feel like it and most often they will not give any kind of warning before they do. You will simply go to use the outlet to find out that it no longer functions and leaves you stranded. (more…)

Do It Yourself Outdoor Wiring

There are many times when we need some kind of electrical outlet or other power source on the outside of the home. This could be to run yard equipment or maybe some decorative lighting. No matter what the need is, you do not want to have to pay an electrician eighty dollars an hour or more to handle that for you. This is a job that can be done by the standard do it yourself person with little or no trouble. The main issue is safety and taking the proper precautions for this type of project. (more…)

How To Keep Your Extension Cords In Good Working Condition

No matter where you live or who you are, none of us can get by without an extension cord. From firing up an electric grill on the porch to Christmas lights out in the yard, extension cords keep us going. But, how do you keep your extension cord in good working condition year after year? Here are some tips and ideas to help you maintain your extension cords so they don’t cause any problems: (more…)

How To Be Safe When Working With Electricity

No mater your skill, no matter the project, everyone needs to be cautious and follow safety precedures when working with or around electricity. If you are a new do-it-yourselfer, here are several safety tips that you should follow to keep yourself, and others, safe while you complete your project: (more…)

How To Choose The Right Light Switch

Whether you’re installing a new ceiling fan or just replacing an old light fixture, choosing the right light switch can be harder than you think. There are many different kinds to choose from, and some might suit your project better than others. So, to help you in choosing the right light switch for your next lighting project, here are the basics on the different types out there so you can make the right decision. (more…)

How To Wire A Light Switch

Sometimes it just isn’t feasible to hire a professional to do a very small job, such as wiring a light switch in your home. Wiring a light switch is fairly easy as long as you follow a few simple steps. (more…)

How To Make Sure Your Home Is Electrically Safe

Millions of homes are build every year and electricity is a must these days. You need light and heat and air conditioning with the hot summers, but you also need to know that your house is electrically safe. Year after year faulty wiring has caused families to loss their homes. How can you make sure your home is electrically safe? Let’s find out. (more…)