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Electrical Tools for the DIYer Electrical Tools for the DIYer

Electrical Tools for the DIYer

While it’s probably a good idea to call an electrician for major electrical work, a proficient DIYer should still have a well-stocked electrical tool belt for minor repairs or renovations. Need to add a new outlet in your work shed or simply fix some loose wire connections? The proper tools and safety equipment will help you get the job done efficiently and safely.

Home Electricity Overview


Typically, a home’s electricity is supplied by a local power company (whoever that darn bill is from every month) and flows to your home from the electrical lines and through your meter that measures your usage. The power is then centralized in a breaker box: a wall panel with different switches that control the flow of power to different areas of your home. In older homes that have not been upgraded, the switches will be fuses; as in “blowing a fuse.” In newer homes they are breakers. Some boxes will also have an emergency switch to quickly disconnect power. When a breaker is tripped or a fuse is blown, it’s usually the result of unsafe conditions such as too many devices plugged in at once. This action immediately halts the flow of electricity to these outlets or fixtures to prevent electrical fires or shocks.

When dealing with electricity it’s always important to be careful. If you are uncertain how to complete a project, it’s best to call an electrician. For bigger projects, check with your local permitting authority and have all the tools needed. Electrician tools are a bit different than your everyday workshop tools.

Safety First


Working on any project that involves electricity should be taken on with caution. It’s important you have the correct safety knowledge and equipment beforehand. When working on an electrical project, you should:

  • Turn off the power not just at the switch, but at the breaker to the area you are working in and check the power load requirements before adding anything new.
  • Make sure to have a fire extinguisher nearby.
  • If installing electrical outlets near water, be sure to use GFCI outlets.
  • Always use the proper electrical box and junction box.
  • Always create tight wire connections to avoid fire hazards.

Electrical Safety Equipment

  • A rubber mat to stand on for grounding.
  • A non-contact voltage tester to see if a wire is “hot” or on. If you aren’t sure a wire is hot, treat it like it is.
  • A voltmeter to test the voltage or electric potential there is wherever you are working including electric fences.
  • When using any metal tools like a screwdriver, make sure the handle is insulated in case of accidental shock.

Electrical Tools to Complete the Project


  • Linesman pliers: These pliers are great if you need to maneuver wires around or cut and bend. They can also be used to strip wire in a pinch.
  • Long nose pliers: You might already have one in your tool belt or even your crafting bag (AKA needle nose), but they are great for moving wires in tight spaces and small, detailed work.
  • Cutting pliers: As their name suggests, these pliers are used for cutting wire and even small fasteners should you need to. These may be labeled as a diagonal cutting plier as the head is angled for use in awkward or tight locations.
  • Circuit breaker finders: This tool matches which circuit breaker in the panel sends power to which device or area of your home. The receiver on the tool is plugged into the outlet you are trying to find the breaker for, and the receptacle passes over circuits and will light up or signal when it has been found. Always check a circuit breaker before you do your work as it is possible your breakers are mislabeled.
  • Outlet testers: These testers help you determine if an outlet or even extension cord plug is working correctly by testing each wire in the connection.
  • Multimeter: As its name implies, this tester helps the user to determine multiple pieces of information on different appliances and other electrical circuits. Digital multimeters have an LCD display screen for easy read of voltage, current, and resistance. Analog types measure the same thing, but don’t have a digital screen. These are very handy not only to find a hot wire, but they can also be used to test batteries and lightbulbs.
  • Wire strippers, wire crimpers, and combination tools: Wire strippers help to remove the plastic covering or jacket on a piece of wire if you needed to rewire something or make a repair. A wire crimper helps make wire connections by pinching two wires together. Probably one of the handiest tools for electrical work are combination tools. These tools can both strip and crimp wire helping you fast-track your job to completion.

The Right Tools for the Job


Whether you are working with a faulty outlet or adding a new one somewhere, having the proper electrical tools to do the job will keep you out of the dark. Head to your local McCoy's before your next project to stock that tool belt. With your new linesman pliers and your circuit breaker finder, the next project is yours to tackle. If you need an excuse to try out your new tools, this project on installing a new ceiling fan is a great way to start.