It may not be worth your while to repair an inexpensive lamp or a small appliance. But if the piece is valuable -- for economic or sentimental reasons -- you can give it new life with just a little work. The basic tools and techniques presented on this website have equipped you to make most of the repairs needed around a home.
Finding and solving problems
Any electrical repair project begins with safety. Before dismantling a lamp or appliance, unplug it. Shut off power to the circuit before working on a light fixture.
To diagnose a problem you often use a continuity tester, which we'll explain in this section. It tells you whether there is a break (i.e., a lack of continuity) along the length of a wire, or whether the contacts of an electrical device have broken. It can help you isolate and identify the problem: a bad plug, cord, socket, or switch.
Lamps, which plug in, and light fixtures, which are permanently connected to household circuits, are wired in much the same way. Most parts, such as sockets and cords, are widely available at reasonable cost. Repair techniques are largely a matter of common sense: Pull the new cord through the lamp to replace the old cord, or replace a faulty socket with a new one of the same type. Wire new components the same way as the old ones.
For best results work away from distraction. Try to finish a repair in one sitting, so you can remember where all the parts should go.
The information in this section also demonstrates easy and safe solutions for a circuit that chronically overloads. It shows how to repair damaged wire inside an electrical box. In addition you'll learn how to solve problems with door chimes and thermostats.