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  • Aspiring amateur electrician

    Among others, one of the skills that I am eager to pick up is home wiring - I've installed/replaced lights, switches and outlets, and wired up my kitchen appliances - dishwasher, disposal and such. I'm ready to advance my skills to the next level, but I'm never going to be making a living doing it, so trade school really isn't a realistic option.
    Are there any good resources online that would help broaden my horizons? I'd like to be able to layout new circuits and run them myself from the breaker box, and while I have a basic grasp of how electricity works (did you know that water and eckeltricity don't work well together?), I'd like to acquire a working knowledge of basic circuits, amps and watts and volts and all of that.

  • #2
    Fightgar,

    I'd check your local library or bookstore, as I'm sure that you'll find several reference and "do-it-yourself" type books on residential wiring. I'd also recommend a book on basic electricity while you're at it. I know Time-Life and a few others (like Popular Science Publishing) have published books on the subject. I'd also check to see if the local community college or high school system has any adult evening classes. You could also do a "Google" search in case there is anything on line.

    You are probably already aware, but in many (if not most) areas there are some restrictions as to what a homeowner is allowed to do. Local and national codes are quite definitive in their requirements and as such, many areas are very restrictive. I would consult your local building codes office to see what you, as a home owner are allowed to do.

    There is a National Electrical Code (NEC) that, I believe, is updated annually. While the cost of the complete handbook is quite high (IMO), you may be able to obtain digests that are particular to the homeowner. I'd check your local building and electrical supply house to see what they have.

    Overall, electricity and your own electrical service is nothing to approach lightly. Do it wrong and you put both your life and you family in danger. Many areas may require that any wiring into the load center (the circuit-breaker panel) be inspected by a certified electrical inspector or "master" electrician. I have heard tales where the inspector will simply demand that all homeowner wiring be yanked out, because it wasn't done properly or by a certified electrician. While I don't know whether such stories are true, it's not something I would put to chance. Also, if you don't do it right, have it properly inspected, and a fire or accident occur, you could very well be in trouble with your insurance carrier.

    I have done quite a bit of wiring on my own home, including putting in a new service. However, that was allowed in my area and I did contact both the electric service provider as well as the local building code enforcement office, before I even approached the job. Having recently purchased an older home in another area (much larger city), I did the same (contact the code inforcement office, before I started anything) and have found that they have restrictions that will not allow me to do more than minor work.

    Bottom line, make some phone calls and be careful in your approach to the work.

    CWS
    Last edited by CWSmith; 02-02-2006, 11:34 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      Go to a bookstore and find some books about basic wiring, if you are not picky you can go to a hardware store and see what they have. As far as code for the first time reading it I thought the NEC code book may as well been in Greek. If you have good reading comprehension then see about getting a code book from a library of maybe the hand book if the price is acceptable.

      What you are allowed to do depends on your local inspector, who can even go one up on the code. The electrical code is a bare minimum standard and some people will have you do work to a higher standard.

      If you are able to do it yourself you'll need,

      A good pair of striper's like Klein of Gardner Bender.
      A good voltage tester Greenlee or Fluke would be my choices.
      GFCI outlet tester.
      Lineman's and needle nose pliers are a good investment as well, with a 8-9 inch Lineman's pliers you can easily cut through most wire with no effort.
      Wear eye protection as well if you are working near live wire. i have been scorched a bit when something arced.
      If you are drilling holes through wood studs then a Ship Auger bit makes it so much faster and a cleaner hole, compared to a paddle/spade bit.

      you should already have plenty of screwdrivers and power tools but you may be a bit like me and just want to have any tool you may ever need, just so that you can fix anything right on the spot.
      "Diplomacy is saying nice dodging until you can find a rock." Will Rogers
      "If a Monkey can do your job, are you in the right profession?

      Comment


      • #4
        Fightgar,

        A couple of books I have used over the years, you may find interesting. One is "Electrical Engineering Reference Manual" and the other is any years "Amateur Radio Handbook".

        The first is used by electrical engineers to help in obtaining their Professional Engineering License. The second, athough predominately for electronics, contains some of the best explanations of many of the items electricians need knowledge of, watts, power, phase and impedances.

        Hope this helps,

        Jerry
        It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.

        Comment


        • #5
          I really found fiberglass push/pull rods like these helpful in my rewriting project.



          Great for pushing new wire through old walls and really tough to get places.

          I picked up most of my wirring knowledge off various sources on the web.

          Josh

          Comment


          • #6
            I agree with Josh that those are very handy. I used to use them back in my Telco days and they were much more easier than fish tape in certain applications. They even make some that glow in the dark or have glow tips to find easier in some dark walls.

            WWS
            Still enjoying all 10 fingers!

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by wwsmith
              I agree with Josh that those are very handy. I used to use them back in my Telco days and they were much more easier than fish tape in certain applications. They even make some that glow in the dark or have glow tips to find easier in some dark walls.WWS
              And don't forget the wire whisk for the end of the fish sticks. Really makes it easy to just flick the wrist to hop over snags and obstructions.
              Of course, if you don't have one of those, you can fashion a whisk (of sorts) out of your cable and some tape that will get you through most tough spots.
              Phil
              Tools Rule

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Josh
                I really found fiberglass push/pull rods like these helpful in my rewriting project.



                Great for pushing new wire through old walls and really tough to get places.

                I picked up most of my wirring knowledge off various sources on the web.

                Josh
                Josh--Looks like your spell check hasn't kicked in either! I don't know about your house, but in our house I am on spell check strike.

                Mrs.Plumberrick
                phoebe it is

                Comment


                • #9
                  Residential Wiring Simplified (or Simpl. Resi. Wiring, I forget) is a good book for beginners.

                  I second the cautions of others. In many states it's legal for you to pull a permit and do your own wiring. Please take advantage of this and have your work inspected. It's worth the cost, having a little assurance that your wiring is safe, as is your family and those who buy the house after you leave.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Mike Holt Has Alot Of Useful Information
                    Visit Mikeholt.com

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by MD MASTER SPARKY
                      Mike Holt Has Alot Of Useful Information
                      Visit Mikeholt.com
                      Now that is some helpful kind advice!
                      Last edited by Polar Sparky 1224; 02-22-2006, 07:03 PM.
                      "Diplomacy is saying nice dodging until you can find a rock." Will Rogers
                      "If a Monkey can do your job, are you in the right profession?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Just do us all a favor, those who read this who aren't electricians: the forum at mikeholt.com is for professionals only. They will not give you DIY advice, don't ask.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          How does one become an electrician - do you have to go to school first, or could you start off apprenticing or whatever?

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                          • #14
                            Get hired on as an apprentice.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Fightgar
                              How does one become an electrician - do you have to go to school first, or could you start off apprenticing or whatever?
                              If you are going to school and hired on with a company it will take you about 4 years to get your journeyman license. You have to pass the state test though.

                              If you just worked for eight years as an apprentice you can then take your journeyman's test.

                              I'm going to school and Employed so in 2.2 years i can take my journeyman's test and get a better job with more $$$$$$$$$
                              "Diplomacy is saying nice dodging until you can find a rock." Will Rogers
                              "If a Monkey can do your job, are you in the right profession?

                              Comment

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