Getting started with DIY electrical
September 15, 2017 8:53 AM   Subscribe

I am trying to improvement my DIY electrical skills. I have replaced a few plugs and switches as long as the wires are a obvious match to the new fixture. But to complete my project of updating all the plugs, switches, and added fan timer switches in the house. I need to improve my understanding of wiring. I signed up for a adult continuing education class for electrical but they canceled it due to low enrollment. Youtube videos are helpful but I have some wiring in my house that is not standard due the house being built in 1976. So, I need to learn to use a voltmeters to identify the correct wires in some fixtures. I have some handy co-workers but everyone is too busy to impose on them every time I run into a odd setup. I need recommendations for books, classes, etc... I am even pay someone for one on one instruction.
posted by KaizenSoze to Technology (10 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Home Depot has in-store workshops. And check your local adult ed and/or community technical college.
posted by theora55 at 9:25 AM on September 15, 2017

Best answer: As with all Taunton published material, Wiring a House by Cauldwell is very good.
posted by humboldt32 at 9:37 AM on September 15, 2017 [3 favorites]

Best answer: This book really helped me get a grasp on home wiring. I have used it to do wiring in an old (1930s) and new (2007) house.

Volt meters, at least for home wiring jobs, are pretty easy to use. Continuity and voltage are mostly all you'll ever need. You should also buy an outlet tester and one of these for quickly testing if a circuit is live.

A good electricians multitool is also indispensable.

And of course, always be aware that this stuff can kill you, especially in older houses. Turn off the breaker AND check for voltage every single time. Lots of houses are wired poorly so you never want to assume a circuit is dead before you go and mess with it.
posted by bondcliff at 9:38 AM on September 15, 2017 [4 favorites]

Maybe try How Stuff Works.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:39 AM on September 15, 2017

Best answer: Came in here to recommend Rex Cauldwell's Wiring A House as well. Also, Code Check, which comes in an electrical edition.

(Background: Homeowner who has fully rewired the 1947 knob & tube house, with permits and inspections, and built and wired my workshop, with permits and inspections.)
posted by straw at 10:17 AM on September 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

A non-contact voltage tester is a must-have. Safer and easier to use than a multi-meter for checking for live wires. Just make sure to test both wires because it only reacts to the hot side.

I just remodeled my bathroom, part of which entailed rewiring numerous outlets and fixtures, and I'm so glad I had this tool.
posted by The Deej at 11:24 AM on September 15, 2017

Home Depot has a great DIY book geared at a more intro / weekend job homeowner level.
The Home Improvement 123
posted by cfraenkel at 12:10 PM on September 15, 2017

Next week I'm taking a home wiring class with my local community college continuing education department. It's only like $100 for 6 classes.
posted by trbrts at 1:13 PM on September 15, 2017

Whatever piece of equipment you are installing even down to marrettes (wire nuts), connectors or switches it is worth going on line and seeing if there is installation instructions from the manufacturer. There is often a lot of overlooked specifics that get missed by people who have just figured it out or learned by doing that can make the product work easier, safer and more reliably.

If you are consulting youtube check multiple sources. There is some astonishing bad advice given out in some videos.

bondcliff: "A good electricians multitool is also indispensable. "

I'm an electrician but IMO those are a really frustrating tool to use. One is much better off with a set of plain wire strippers (from Klein, Ideal, Greenlee or Milwaukee; I like Klein's 11055) and then if you need a set of crimpers buy the Klein 1005 or the Channellock 909.
posted by Mitheral at 8:41 PM on September 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Don't learn this from YouTube, please. Its too much information to get from a video.

Get some books and read them. Caldwells book is better for trades people who are learning electrical, but the Black and Decker book is better for DIY'ers and homeowners. Also the Creative Homeowner DIY book series has a very good one for electrical.

Source of opinion : I do this professionally, and I learned it from books and not an apprenticeship originally.
posted by girl Mark at 9:34 PM on September 15, 2017

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