A Guide to Becoming a DIY Electrician

Most electrical fires are easily prevented. Where and how do these fires start?

Causes of Electrical Fires

Cause
Percentage
FIXED WIRING
34.7
CORDS AND PLUGS
17.2
LIGHT FIXTURES
12.4
SWITCHES, RECEPTACLES, AND OUTLETS
11.4
LAMPS AND LIGHT BULBS
8.3
FUSES, CIRCUIT BREAKERS
5.6
METER AND METER BOXES
2.2
TRANSFORMERS
1.0
UNCLASSIFIED OR UNKNOWN ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTION EQUIPMENT
7.3

In future articles we will look at each of these causes and investigate what you can do as a DIY electrician to prevent them.

On Becoming a DIY Electrician

Having taught adult Ed courses in residential electrical repair and major appliance repair, I have discovered that the best approach to teaching these subjects is the hands on approach. The hand on approach combines learning electrical theory with completing useful practical projects. Being able to apply what you are learning right away, along with the satisfaction of completing a project successfully is a great incentive to learn more. I learned that way. The other approach is to teach all the theory and book stuff first, but that can be boring and many people lose interest very quickly. Starting with part two of this series you will begin learning electrical theory while completing projects that will make your home a safer place electrically.

I will assume zero knowledge on the part of my reader, so these articles are designed for the beginner, but they will be of benefit to the more experienced DIY electricians as well because we tend to forget the more basic things that we learned in the beginning as we become more experienced.

A Word About Tools

Many of you reading this article will already have all the basic hand tools that you will need to complete the projects we will be working on, but, if you do need to buy a tool, buy the highest quality tool that your budget will allow. A quality tool, given the proper care, is a life long investment. The old saw, no pun intended, that you get what you pay for was never truer then when it comes to tools and test equipment.

The most important tool in your kit is not a tool at all, but a book. Everyone who is serious about becoming a DIY Electrician needs to purchase a copy of the NEC (National Electrical Code), NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) Publication 79. The NEC is revised every three years, the latest revision being the 2008 Revision. You can purchase this codebook directly from the NFPA, from an online source like Amazon.Com, or have your local bookstore order you a copy. You can get it in hard cover, soft cover, or loose leaf formats. I prefer the loose-leaf format because it allows me to use divider tabs that make access to the various sections of the code easy and it allows me to insert code updates as they become available. No matter what version you buy, get a copy now because you will need it to get the most from these articles. The NEC is the electrician’s bible and all work must be performed according to its rules and regulations.

Next Up

Part 2 of this series will introduce you to some basic electrical terms like voltage, amperage, wattage, and Ohms. It will explain how they are calculated and how to apply them when selecting power cords and plugs for use in and around the hoe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


six + 3 =