There are, perhaps, no home improvement projects more frustrating than electrical work. There is probably an algebraic equation that can predict for every project started, x equals the number of curse words muttered.
This is the nature of the job. Even the holiest of men are prone to cursing after they’ve spent hours planning, diagraming, and carefully executing the simplest of wiring jobs.
We’ve all been there. All you want to do is replace a simple light switch. You make sure you’ve followed every step correctly. You’re positive everything is where it was before you touch it. In fact, it is. Yet, when you flip that switch, somehow, the garage door opens when the bathroom light should’ve turned on.
Let the cursing begin.
While difficult, the more you know about home wiring the more likely it’ll only take two tries rather than five in order to get it right. Today, we’ll begin looking at different aspects of household electricity.
As you may or may not know, electrical circuits channel electrical current through a closed loop. This loop starts at your circuit breaker. The current travels along a hot wire to the switch or outlet which is to be powered. The current then completes the loop, or circuit, by returning to the circuit breaker along a neutral wire.
This is the basic course of electricity in your home.
The circuit breaker box is where it all begins. When you are doing electrical work, this is also where you should begin. Remember, before doing any electrical work whatsoever, turn off the corresponding circuit.
The circuit breaker is the command center of your electrical system. Whenever the wiring of your home is sent too much current for it to safely handle, the circuit breaker is automatically switched off.
This is a gravely important feature. Without, electricity in the home would be too dangerous and impractical. The circuit breaker is what makes electricity worth it.
Each switch on your circuit breaker provides a 120 Volt current to the corresponding switches and outlets in your house.
The hot wire leads the current from your circuit breaker to the switch. Hot wires are usually black or red.
The current returns via the neutral wire, which is usually white.
In the middle is the switch. As the current is sent from the circuit breaker to the switch, it stops if the switch is in the “off” position. When you turn the switch to the “on” position, the current travels through the switch, lighting your lamp and returning to the circuit breaker where the loop is completed.