Princeton Capital Blog

Three Simple Electrical Repairs You Can Do

January 16th, 2013

Worker installing electricalThree Simple Electrical Repairs You Can Do

Before doing any electrical repair, know the steps you are going to follow.  And always ensure that power is off to the area where you’re working.

How to replace a single pole light switch

So you want to replace your old fashioned light switch with a sleek and modern rocker.  It’s fast and easy.

From About.com.  They provide useful photos to see exactly how to remove the switch.

  • Turn off power to the circuit feeding the switch. You do this by going to your electrical service panel and either removing the fuse or turning off the circuit breaker feeding power to the switch.
  • Go back to the switch and flip the switch to confirm that power has been turned off.
  • Remove the small screws holding switch cover plate.
  • Remove the two small screws holding the old switch to the switch box. A multi-head screwdriver works great for this.
  • Gently pull out the old switch being careful not to crack the old wiring.

Once the switch is pulled from the box, check the wiring for condition and proper markings.

  • Extend the old switch from the box enough to access the black wires attached to the old switch.Switches always connect to hot (black) wires. In some cases you may find a white wire with the end taped black denoting it is serving as a hot (black) wire. Or you may find a white wire connected to the switch. If that’s the case, the prior electrician did not properly mark the wire and it should be marked as a black wire. Wrap the end with black electrical tape after disconnecting.
  • Disconnect the old switch by disconnecting the two black wires that connect to the switch.
  • You don’t do anything with the existing neutral(white) wires or ground (green or bare copper) wires.

Installing the new switch is fairly simple:

  • Connect the two hot (black) wires to the two brass terminals on the new switch.
  • Gently push the new switch back into the box.
  • Fasten the switch to the box with the two long screws at the top and bottom of the switch.

Finally you just attach the switch cover plate and turn the circuit breaker back on to provide power back at the switch.

Replace a Light Fixture

Let’s say you want to replace a light fixture in a dining room with one that has a fan.  It’s actually easier then you think. But do leave plenty of time if you’re not used to hooking up wiring.

From DIY Network: (and this also has a great slideshow of pictures to show you how things should look)

  1. Determine the correct size of fan
  2. Remove the Existing Light Fixture
  3. Install a support brace
  4. Install the fan mounting bracket
  5. Connect the fan motor wiring
  6. Attach the fan blades
  7. Attach the light fixture
  8. Install the wall control switch

Upgrade Outlets to GFCI

Want those great outlets in your bathroom and kitchen that have a fuse in them so it shuts off if something crazy happens?

Guess what?  It’s just like replacing a light switch.  Here’s an article in This Old House that talks about how to convert a non-grounded outlet to a grounded one.

First, turn off the power to the circuit you’ll be working on. Take off the cover plate and unscrew the outlet from the box. Disconnect the wires and remove the old outlet.

At the back of the GFCI are screw terminals marked “load” and “line.” The single screw at the bottom is the grounding screw. Attach both the black and white wires to the screw terminals on the line side. Fasten the black wire to the dark-colored screw and the white wire to the light-colored screw. Again, make sure that both wires are on the “line” side.

Wrap the bare copper wire around the grounding screw and tighten it. Neatly tuck the wires into the box, screw the outlet in place and replace the cover plate. Finally, check the GFCI by pressing the “test” (power off) and “reset” (power on) buttons.

After turning off the electricity to the kitchen at the main service panel, remove the cover plate and unscrew the duplex outlet from the existing cable inside the box.

Install the new ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet by attaching both the black and white wires to the “line” side of the outlet. Connect the bare wire to the grounding screw. Replace the cover plate, then check to make sure the GFCI is operating properly. Press the test button; the outlet should go dead. Reset to resume current flow.

Code Reminders

• All countertop receptacle outlets must be protected by a GFCI device installed at the outlet or by GFCI circuit breakers.

• A kitchen must have two 20-amp circuits for countertop appliances.

• There should be countertop receptacles installed so that no point along the counter is more than 2 ft. from an outlet.

Which project are you going to tackle this weekend?

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