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How To Test For Live Wires

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Before doing any kind of electrical work, or completing even the easiest fix, put your safety and the safety of others around you first by testing receptacles and switches with electrical voltage testers, a receptacle analyzer or a voltage detector.

Many people make the mistake of thinking as long as they don't touch wires together, they'll be okay. Others assume that as long as they've turned off the fuse to that specific box or switch, they'll be all right. Yet more people are electrocuted every year because they inadvertently touched a hot wire, or started to work on something that they thought was safe, and wasn't.

There are several different types of voltage testers out there, many of them specific to particular tasks. Some basic knowledge and some minor expense may mean all the difference between intending to start that job and finishing it.

Listed below are some of the most common types of electric voltage testers.

Receptacle Analyzer: This gadget is a small tool that comes equipped with prongs, just like those you would find on any plug. It is inserted into the wall socket receptacle. Lights will flash, telling you if the receptacle is working properly, or if it's grounded or polarized. Some vibrate and make noise, so it's just a matter of finding one that suits your purposes and skill level.

Voltage Detector: This handy tool will find your live wires, whether you're touching them with the tool or not. It looks sort of like a fat fountain pen, and when held in the vicinity of a live wire, will glow. So, if you're not sure if that wire running beneath your living room carpet is good or not, this tool is convenient to have on hand.

Four-Level Voltage Tester: This one looks like a small, black torpedo and has two wires extending from it; usually one black and one red. This type of tester is best used in wall receptacles or to determine if wiring for a light switch is working. Using the prongs on each end of the colored wires, you can touch a screw on the switch itself with one wire, and the grounding box with the other, to determine if you have juice.

Continuity Tester: This tool will allow to you see if certain devices are working properly, such as thermostats or alarm system devices. After first completely removing the device from the wall and detaching all wires, you attach the continuity tester's alligator clip to a terminal on the item and then use another probe to touch another part of the device. If the device is in good working order, the light will glow when the device switch is turned on, then disappear when it's turned off.

Play it safe. Never assume anything when it comes to electricity.

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