Electrical Wiring In Homes

We usually don’t think about the electrical wiring in our homes until something goes wrong. Power outages have us scrambling to power the essentials.

It pays to be familiar with the electrical situation in your house. It will pay off when a circuit is tripped and you won’t have to scramble in the dark to determine what is powered by each circuit in the house. You will also know in advance whether your house is equipped to handle new appliances before you purchase them.

Electricians identify a 20 amp breaker that has gone bad and replace it.

Wires from your power company will feed into the service panel. Houses built more recently and those that have been updated will have a service panel containing circuit breakers. Older construction might still have a fuse box if it hasn’t been updated.

The main breaker on the service panel controls the flow of electricity to the whole property. Flipping this breaker will cut off the power to the rest of the panel allowing you to replace faulty circuits or install new ones. It will be labeled with a number showing the upper limit for the amperage the panel can handle. Most residential service panels have a capacity of 100-150 amps.

The other circuit breakers will regulate the flow of electricity to sections of your house or individual appliances. Most household circuits are 15 or 20 amps and will power light fixtures and electrical outlets. When installing or replacing an outlet check whether it is on a 15 of 20 amp circuit. The outlets will be rated for which type of circuit they can be used on. Mismatched circuits and outlets can result in damage to the devices you plug in or your wiring.

Your service panel will probably have at least one double breaker. These are breakers that take up two slots in the panel. They are for circuits that supply 240 volt power to large appliances like a central air unit, hot water heater, or electric dryer. They may connect to 30 amp outlets or to appliances that have been directly wired in to the circuit. 30 amp outlets are easy to recognize because they are designed to fit plugs with a different blade style than most appliances.

Once you are familiar with the configuration of your service panel its a good idea to label each circuit. Names written in with a black permanent marker will be easily visible on the metal box housing your service panel. After unplugging any devices that might be harmed by a sudden fluctuation in power, try turning off each circuit one at a time. Label the box with the names or rooms, devices and appliances that stop receiving power when the circuit is flipped. Taking the time to do this in advance will make life easier in situations where parts of the house are not receiving power. It will also allow you to cut power to the right circuit when repairs or improvements are made to wiring or outlets.