Home Repair Tips – Outlets and Switches

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Electrical, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

Two electrical devices in the home are in constant use. They are:

• Outlet receptacles

• Switches

Roth of these devices are housed in electrical boxes made of etal or plastic. In the box, the outlet r switch is attached to wires that carry the house current.

An outlet receptacle includes one or more electrical sockets connected to the wires inside the box. A two-prong plug inserted into the outlet connects to two hot wires. This permits electricity to flow through the amp or appliance.

If a receptacle breaks or wears out, it must be replaced. Test the outlet a circuit tester. If it does not light, replace the outlet.

First turn off the electricity by removing the fuse or turning off the circuit breaker. In some cases you may want to turn off all the electricity at the main switch.

Remove the outlet from the box. Many outlets are connected by two wires. Others, the grounded type, have three wires.

The electrical box often contains an outlet receptacle. Lamps and appliances can be plugged into these outlet receptacles.

A broken or worn out outlet receptacle cannot be repaired. Test for electricity by inserting the two prongs of a circuit tester into the two slots of the outlet. If it lights there is electrical flow. If not, replace the outlet.

Remove the face plate and unscrew the outlet from the box. You can sketch a rough draft of how each wire is connected to the outlet. Label each wire with a letter or number on masking tape before you disconnect the wires. Be sure to mark the letter or number on your rough draft. Sometimes receptacles seem to have more wires than they need. This is because the receptacle itself makes the connection and continues the circuit to the next outlet somewhere else in the house.

Attach the new outlet according to your rough draft. Be sure all wires are bent properly and screwed down tight. Loose wires cause sparks, and sparks can cause fires.

The outlet receptacle has slotted holes at the top and bottom.

This is so you can hang the outlet straight even if the box is crooked. When you replace the face plate, no one can see that the box is not straight.

There are many types of switches, but all of them work by opening or closing a circuit. Electricity will not flow through an open circuit. Switches in outlet housings usually control lights, air conditioners, and other built-in house appliances through in-wall wiring. Sometimes the switch will control outlet receptacles elsewhere in the room or in the same housing

Sometimes outlets are wired to one another. Instead of continuing straight through, e line stops at one set of screws on the outlet.Both screws on the same side of the outlet are onnected so that the next set of wires carries electricity just as if A was connected

The simplest switch is a single pole single throw switch. This switch is marked ON and OFF. In the ON or up position, the circuit is closed and electricity flows through the switch. In the OFF or down position, the circuit is opened, stopping the flow of electricity.

•Do not install a switch upside down.

Two three-way switches are used to control a circuit from two different locations. They are used in hallways and stairways, for example. Three-way switches are not marked ON/OFF.

Other special switches are used for safety. Dimmer switches can be used to brighten or dim the lights by turning a knob. Mercury switches, which don’t spark, are used where inflammable or explosive materials might be present. They will not work if mounted upside down. Outdoor switches and outlets should be grounded and sealed against moisture

Replace a switch the same as you do an outlet. Turn off the electricity by removing the fuse or opening the breaker. Remove the cover plate. The switch cover plate is attached by two screws instead of one. Rough draft the connections and tag the wires. Install the new switch and replace the cover plate.

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