At Oliver, we know that some homeowners like to take things into their own hands, which is why we’ve listed a few home electrical repairs you can do yourself, if you have a basic knowledge of how electricity works. If not, our home electrical service experts can help you address and fix virtually any electrical problem you may be experiencing – simply give us a call and set up an appointment.
1. Fix a Loose Outlet
If your electrical outlet moves around in its box, it could loosen your electrical wires and create a safety hazard. To fix this, turn the power off and use a voltage tester to make sure no power is running to the outlet. When it’s safe, unscrew the cover plate and the outlet. When an outlet is recessed too deeply, you can add outlet shims (available at any home improvement store) to the screws until the outlet sits flush with your wall. After that, screw the outlet back into the box and replace the cover plate.
2. Find an Electrical Short
If you turn on an electrical appliance and you short out a circuit, reset the breaker and try the appliance again. If it happens again, you know it’s the appliance. If it happens when the appliance is unplugged, you most likely have a short in the wiring or the receptacle.
Disconnect any and all items that are cord- and plug-connected that can be easily removed. Then, try to turn the power on to the circuit to see if the short has been cleared. If all known devices are disconnected and the short is still present, make sure the power is completely turned off to the problem circuit by switching the breaker to the off position or by removing the fuse at the main electrical panel if not already done. You can double-check that it’s off by using an approved insulated volt/Ohm meter.
After that, remove the receptacle from the box using a pair of insulated pliers. Check each of the wires using the “Ohm” setting on the volt/Ohm Meter. Connect one lead of the testing meter to the black wire and the other to the white wire. When the meter reads ZERO or “OL,” there is potentially a dead short within the circuit wiring. This process should be repeated utilizing all three wires until all wires have been checked against one another.
You should read community between the white and green or white and the uninsulated wire (Ground). When you confirm the presence of community using the black wire, continue to remove the other receptacles, switches and/or light fixtures from the circuit where applicable. Continue to check the circuit using the Ohm meter after removing each device. Once the community reading has cleared you will have located the trouble.
Testing the wiring inside the electrical panel at the breaker connection is very dangerous and should be done only by a member of our electrical service team.
3. Repair an Extension Cord End
If you have a heavy-duty extension cord, you know they’re not cheap. Luckily, repairing a cord that has been cut or damaged near the plug is pretty simple. Start by cutting off the old plug, then cutting back the insulation jacket (do this by making a light, lengthwise incision, then score it gently until you can peel back the jacket). Strip each of the wires using a wire stripper and the right gauge, then twist each of the wires tightly. Screw them into the back of the plug (black wire to gold screw, white wire to silver screw, green wire to green screw). Close the plug and secure the wires depending on what type of plug you have.
If you have a cord that’s damaged in the middle, cut it in half and add new male and female ends to each half. This will turn your one damaged cord into two new cords.
4. Repair an Electric Stove
If you’ve turned your stove on lately and noticed that one of the burners isn’t heating up, it could mean several things: a bad burner, a faulty switch, or a bad socket connection. To find out what the problem is, first try switching out the burner with one that works. (Unplug the burner from the socket and plug the prongs of the other burner in.)
If that burner doesn’t work either, inspect the socket. If the socket looks corroded or charred, unplug your stove and replace the socket with a new one. Simply unscrew the socket from the stove, unscrew its wires, and connect the wires to the new socket. Then, just screw the new socket into the stove.
If your socket looks fine, it could be a faulty switch. To test it, you’ll need a multimeter tester. First, unplug your stove and find out where your infinite switch is located (many times it’s underneath the back panel). Turn on the burner in question and remove the wire from the H1 terminal. Set your multimeter to RX-1 and place the two probes on the H1 and H2 terminals. If the meter doesn’t change, you’ll need to replace your switch (or call our home electrical service team).
5. Fix a Dead Doorbell
If your doorbell doesn’t work, it could be because of the chime, the button, the transformer, or the wiring. First, detach the button from the wall and inspect the wires. If the wires look intact, clean away any debris and tighten the terminal screws. Also check for corrosion at the button and clean if necessary.
If this doesn’t work, detach the wires from the terminals. Hold each wire by its insulation, then gently touch the bare wires together. If they create a spark and the doorbell sounds, you need a new button. If they create a spark and the doorbell doesn’t sound, it may be the chime. If you get no spark, it may be the transformer.
To test the chime, use a multimeter tester to take a reading: set it to AC, then touch the probes to the “front” and “trans” terminals, then the “rear” and “trans” terminals. If you get a reading between 16 and 24 volts, power is reaching your chime, so it needs replaced.
If there is no power to the chime, test the transformer by removing the thin wires and touching the multitester probes to both terminals. If the reading is more than four volts below what the transformer’s output rating is, you need a new transformer.