Learn something new every day
More Info... by email
Electrical troubleshooting is a standard, logical process of elimination used to determine the root cause of a problem. An electrician normally performs these techniques, but they can be easily learned and completed by the average person. It is important to think about safety first when working with electricity. Check every wire to see if it is live before touching it. Wear rubber-soled boots and be careful to avoid electrocution.
There are three steps to electrical troubleshooting: identify the problem, localize the issue, and repair it. All three steps can be applied to any electrical problem. Electricity connections are fairly simple to understand and can be easily diagnosed.
The first step of electrical troubleshooting is to identify the actual problem. If the electricity is not working, determine if the problem is related to a specific area, or widespread. Widespread electrical outages are the responsibility of the electricity company. Look at the electricity availability in the neighborhood to determine how widespread the issue is.
If the problem is limited to a specific area of your home, go to your circuit breaker. All the electrical wiring in a building is run through a circuit breaker box. The different areas of the home are divided into circuits. Any surge in power supply that exceeds a specific value causes the circuit breaker to activate or trip, which stops the flow of electricity to that area. To correct this, the circuit breaker must be reset or replaced.
To understand how the circuits work, read the electrical schematic drawings. These large drawings provide a map of all the electrical wiring in the home. It will show you which outlets are connected to each other and how the electricity is managed. Using this drawing, you can understand how the wiring is completed. This information is critical when you are using electrical troubleshooting techniques.
Schematic drawings are available for all electrical equipment, buildings, and vehicles. These drawings are mandatory and are used by safety agencies to confirm the correct protections are in place. Localize the issue to the area causing the electrical problem. You can then identify the necessary steps to correct it. Always turn off the main power before attempting any work on electrical systems.
To repair an electrical problem, contact an electrician. Explain the situation and provide them with your evaluation of the problem. A certified electrician must do any adjustments of existing wiring in a home. It is too easy to overload a circuit and cause a devastating electrical fire.
@Mor - A lot of people are quite nervous about doing any kind of electrical work. Which is quite understandable.
But, if someone feels like that they won't really want to do any general electric troubleshooting.
What you can do instead is "troubleshoot" the electrician. Figure out what he should be doing, which he should be checking and how he should be doing it. There are often a list of basic requirements for your area on local council websites.
Ask your electrician whether or not they are up to code and how they go about deciding what work needs to be done. Or, watch while they search for and make a simple repair.
Once you find a good one, that you can trust, stick with them and you won't have to worry about troubleshooting again.
Home electrical troubleshooting is really important. Too many people make silly mistakes by jumping to conclusions, rather than testing all the possible problems.
This is the same thing that was advocated in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. He believed that no matter what you were trying to repair you should go through a series of tests to try and pinpoint the real problem first, rather than blindly jumping into a generic solution.
If you do the tests suggested above you can also determine if you need to call a professional, and narrow down the possible problems for them when they do arrive. As electricians are often paid by the hour, this is a smart thing to do.
One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK!