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Seven Tools You Need for Electrical Repairs

There are a number of electrical repairs and projects that the average homeowner can easily accomplish around the house. However, to do so requires a few simple tools. Whether you are troubleshooting and repairing overhead lighting, replacing circuit breakers, or installing a ceiling fan, the right tools will make the job easier and safer, and give you professional results. Here's what you need in your toolbox.

1. Multi-meter: This handy gadget measures voltage, resistance, and other electrical properties that will help you troubleshoot problems and make sure a circuit is safe to work on. You can also test lights like continuity and outlet testers, but the multi-meter does it all.

2. Wire stripper: This tool allows you to cleanly strip insulation away from the wires so you can make good electrical connections. Wire strippers are found in different sizes for different wire gauges. Make sure yours are the right size for common household wiring.

3. Crimper: If you are working with wire splicers, spade lugs, or other connectors that need to be crimped, this tool does the job properly. A pair of slip-joint pliers does not.

4. Soldering iron: Although most modern wiring is done using mechanical connectors (for which the crimper is used), many connections in older homes are soldered. The soldering iron will help you disconnect these without cutting wires. You can then decide to re-connect with solder or a mechanical connector.

5. Electrician's tape: While perhaps not considered a "tool" as such, a roll of this handy black insulated tape is invaluable for insulating unused wires and eliminating possible short circuits around soldered connections or bare wires.

6. Wire nuts: Again, perhaps these useful items are not technically considered tools, but any electrician worth his salt will have a selection of them in his toolbox. Wire nuts come in various sizes and colors, and are usually screwed onto the ends of wires; however some are crimped.

7. Other electrical connectors: These are the spade lugs, ring lugs, splicers, and other connectors that are crimped or soldered to make solid electrical connections. You should visit your local hardware store and pick up a selection of these and keep them handy. It will save you a trip in the middle of a repair or project.

The primary thing to remember when performing any electrical repairs or projects is to observe all safety precautions. Never work on a live circuit--always test to make sure the power is off. Treat electricity with a healthy respect.