Author Topic: Household electrical reference  (Read 1234 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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  • Age: 37
  • Location: Pacific NW
Household electrical reference
« on: November 06, 2017, 07:07:43 PM »
Hi MMM community,  I'm hoping to do some household electrical repairs that are beyond my current comfort zone.  The extent of my previous work is simply replacing older outlets with GFCI in the kitchen and replacing some ceiling fixtures.  Does anyone know of a good household electrical reference/resource?  Either a particularly good book or a maybe a good online resource?  Something geared towards absolute beginners, but extending up to what most competent DIY homeowners should know.

"Electrical" DIY has always made me uncomfortable, but I'd like to stretch my comfort zone a little bit and save some $ in the process. 

If interested, the current project is a switch & outlet at my back porch that periodically will lose power and then mysteriously gain power again seconds later.  The outlet also is "loose" (things plugged into it don't always stay plugged in).  Oh, and it's not GFCI.  And it's housed in an inappropriate metal box (definitely not outdoor rated).  And there is a ground wire running from the switch to the outlet that has all the green plastic sizzled around it whereas all of the other wires look great.  As best I can tell the installer relied on metal conduit as ground, yet when I go in my basement and look at the upstream box, it doesn't look like they ever properly grounded the conduit.  I figure if I can learn enough electrical to figure out WHY this failed, and how to correct the problem, maybe I will feel confident in doing the repair myself.  And if I decide I still don't understand it, at least I will know MORE than I did to start with and can speak competently with the electrician.

As a related question, are there general thoughts about pulling permits when doing minor electrical repairs?  My city requires permits when making any change to any hard-wired system which seems overkill for the simple stuff I've done thus far (switching old outlets to GFCI, switching ceiling light fixtures, etc).

Papa bear

  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Household electrical reference
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2017, 05:16:26 AM »
Go to a big box hardware store and they will have some reference books near the front. I picked up an electrical one 15 years ago that was very helpful in  my first projects. 

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  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Household electrical reference
« Reply #2 on: December 21, 2017, 07:38:01 AM »
We are big fans of the Circuit Detective website.  It gives clear explanations so you can learn the fundamentals behind your system. If you have a problem, it also offers lots of help troubleshooting.  With it, we were able to diagnose a weird electrical problem that had stumped a pro who came to the house.


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Re: Household electrical reference
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2017, 05:13:57 AM »
I found this book at work a read it one afternoon. It was helpful to me.

There is a 2017 version that costs quite a bit more, but this 2008 copy will probably meet your needs. There is also also copy floating around the internet and you may be able to find that.

Also, when I studied for the PE as a EE, I ended up landing on the Mike Holt forum quite a bit.