1. Archive

How to make electrical work easier

(ran HS edition)

Here are tips to make it easier to handle minor do-it-yourself electrical projects around the house:

+ Low-voltage telephone or doorbell wiring can be secured quickly and easily to walls and ceilings with a hot melt glue gun.

Run a bead of glue 1 inch long and [ to 3/16 inch wide. While the glue is still soft, press the wire into the bead and hold it in place a few seconds until the glue sets up. Repeat this process every few feet.

Using glue eliminates the need for staples on wood surfaces and makes it easy to run wiring on concrete or masonry walls.

+ When installing an outlet, use an ordinary 25-foot metal tape measure to fish a wire or cable inside a wall. It remains rigid for a long distance, and you can attach the wire in the hole in the end hook. The tape also tells you at a glance exactly how far the wire reaches inside the wall.

+ To remove insulation from the end of a wire without nicking or cutting it, heat the insulation with a match about where you want it to break away, then pull the softened plastic covering off with pliers.

+ Create a mini trouble light to provide light for small jobs in cramped spaces. Plug a small, hooded incandescent night light into a household extension cord.

+ To ensure that you shut off the right circuit when you need to do electrical work in your home, mark the number of the fuse or circuit breaker on the back of each switch plate or outlet cover.

+ To figure out which fuse or circuit breaker controls an electrical outlet, plug a radio into the outlet and turn its volume on high. When the music stops, you'll know that you have switched off the right breaker or taken out the right fuse.

+ To avoid overcharging your battery-operated tools, plug the charger into an ordinary light timer and set it to shut off after the recharging time.

+ Removing a burned-out light bulb from a recessed fixture can be difficult because there isn't room for your fingers. Make a light bulb "handle" with a 15-inch strip of duct tape. Center the tape on the bulb. Fold the two ends back to the middle, then fold each end over again on itself to form the handle.

+ Make a tool for changing light bulbs in high, hard-to-reach locations by fastening a light shade clip to a 1-inch-diameter dowell of the right length. Wrap the clip with electrical tape so that it gets a good grip on the bulb.

+ Protect the cord of your electric hedge clipper from being cut by the blades. Put a length of garden hose, split lengthwise and wrapped snugly with electrical tape, over the segment nearest to the blades. The blade teeth don't separate far enough to damage the hose.

+ Keep small extension cords organized and untangled by tucking them inside the paper tubes that once held toilet tissue or paper towels.

+ Protect your electronic devices by plugging them into a surge protector rather than an outlet strip. Although many such strips have built-in fuses that protect against strong currents, a true surge protector also stops voltage spikes. Check the response time on the packaging; the quicker the better.

+ Wires hanging down behind your TV, VCR or stereo can look like a jungle. Organize them into a neat cable with inexpensive coiled telephone cord, which is available in various lengths and a number of colors. Just clip the snap-in plugs off the ends and wrap the coils around the wires.