I receive lots of electrical questions on this site, and one thing that I’ve noticed is that most do-it-yourselfers do not have the proper equipment for testing electricity. To troubleshoot and test your electrical circuits, you need some safety and test equipment.
Before we get too involved in this article, I want to stress the fact that working with live electricity can be very dangerous. Always turn off the power and verify that the power is off before opening up any electrical boxes. Always close up and cover all electrical boxes before turning the power back on. That said, there are going to be times when you have to open up the connections and test the wiring with the power on. There are ways to do this safely, and part of this is using the proper tools and testing equipment.
A good pair of safety glasses is always a good idea for completing diy electrical wiring projects. A good pair of leather gloves will provide a layer of insulation between your hands and the bare wires. Please don’t misunderstand the leather gloves and think that you are protected from electricity with them.
Leather gloves are not rated for working with live electricity. If they are dry and have no holes, they will provide a limited layer of insulation. In my opinion, every little bit helps. However, even with the leather gloves on, you still shouldn’t touch the bare ends of the wires.
A good multimeter will help you troubleshoot and measure almost everything on your circuit. A Wiggy or solenoid voltage tester is real handy when troubleshooting voltage problems.
A plug tester will take a lot of the guesswork out when troubleshooting and testing your outlets. In my opinion, every homeowner should have a plug tester or, better yet, a GFCI receptacle tester. This will test the GFCI receptacles and the standard receptacles and outlets. The non-contact voltage tester is very handy for a quick check for voltage and to determine which is the hot wire with knob and tube wiring.
Hand Tools Needed for Completing DIY Electrical Wiring Projects
Some of the basic hand tools needed to complete your residential DIY electrical wiring projects are:
- 11-in-1 Screwdriver/Nut Driver
- 9-Inch High Leverage Side Cutting Plier
- 8-Inch Diagonal Cutting Pliers
- 8-Inch Long Nose Pliers
- Crimping/Cutting Tool
- Klein-Kurve Dual NM Cable Stripper/Cutter
- Stanley FatMax Tape Measure
- Razor knife
- Straight-Claw Hammer with a fiberglass or wood handle
- Torpedo Level
- Tool Pouch
- Stanley 6-Inch FatMax Jab Saw
If you are going to install a meter base, panel or sub-panel, you are also going to need:
- 9-1/2-Inch High Leverage Cable Cutter
- 4-1/4-Inch Folding TORX Key Set – Small Allen Wrenches
- 5-1/4-Inch Folding Hex-Key Set with 5-Inch Sizes – Large Allen Wrenches
If you are going to recess boxes into thick lumber or logs, then a wood chisel set will be very handy. Please keep in mind that this is a basic tool list. You may need specialty tools on a per-project basis.
Do you use these tools for troubleshooting and testing the electrical wiring in your home? Do you have other safety equipment needed for completing DIY electrical wiring projects that you use or recommend?