It’s All About the Wiring!

Written By: Ryan Bowman

Electricians go through rigorous training for a reason: because electricity is a complicated process that can be dangerous if it’s not done correctly. When it comes to electrical wiring repairs and remodeling, the key is to know how to identify, locate, and install the wiring necessary to make proper and safe connections. Therefore, knowing the wiring basics before you attempt any renovation or remodeling project is the first and most critical piece.

Does Size Matter? Heck Yeah!

The size of the wire is essential to the safety of the installation. The size of a wire is a measure of the metal conductor’s diameter and is based on the American Wire Gauge system. The wire’s amperage and current-carry capacity are determined by the wire size you choose. Therefore, it is one of the most vital parts of choosing connections. Wires that don’t have the proper size can be a hazard for a short circuit – or worse, a fire!

Non-Metallic Sheathed Cable

Interior wiring products are typically made from non-metallic cable, with the most popular brand being Rolex. Non-metallic cable is made of more than three wires that are safely wrapped in a plastic sheath. They are the most common types of wiring used for interior outlets, light fixtures, appliances, and switches. 

Electrical Wire Color Coding

Color coding is how you can tell electrical cables apart. The color coding helps identify what the wire is used for, and it creates consistency in the system to provide reliability. Cable colors relate to the wiring’s size and amperage rating. When an individual wire is colored, it usually does not relate to the rating or size; rather, it references the wire’s preferred or standard use. For example, red and black wires are usually used for “hot” connections or current-carrying ones. White is usually for “neutral” or grounded wires.

Labeling Electrical Wiring

Electrical cables and wires have markings or labels on them that are usually printed on the outside. The markings convey critical information about the wire such as the size, material, and type of insulation. They can also tell you how many wires are inside and any characteristics or ratings that you need to know. 

Direct-Burial Cable

Electrical cable that is meant to go indoors where it is protected by walls and ceilings and can stay dry. Outdoor projects or those that need to be buried underground have to be run with direct-burial cable. Direct-burial cables are conducting wires that are bound with vinyl to protect them from moisture.

Electrical Wire Stripping

When you strip an electrical wire, it means that you move the insulation that wraps it and expose the metal core. It is important when stripping to make sure that there is no direct damage to the metal itself. Although it isn’t too difficult, it is essential to know how to do it right!

Number of Wires in Conduit

When you run individual electrical wires, you can only have so many wires running inside the conduit. The number of wires that you are limited to is called the “fill capacity” and varies based on what the wires are for. Things like conduit size, wire gauge, and the material of the conduit all matter. Plastic, flexible, and metal wires all have different fill capacities, which are critical to pay attention to!

Wiring an Electrical Breaker Panel

The main powerhouse of electric wires is the electrical panel. It is where all the electrical wires are housed and connected. The individual circuits are powered by the main panel, which is individually protected by fuses or breakers. Only a licensed electrician is qualified to work on an electrical panel, but it is important for you to know how it plays into the entire system.

Electrical Disconnect Switches

The electrical disconnect switch gives you the power to shut off a dwelling’s electrical system from the outdoors. It is usually mounted on the property just below the electrical meter. Not all dwellings have it; they are typically used only when emergency responders or utility workers can’t access the main panel inside. Again, electrical disconnect panels can only be worked on by a licensed electrician.

Electricity does take a lot of expertise and training to understand and handle. If you are considering doing a project on your own, beware – if not handled properly, electrical wires can lead to a fire hazard or serious injury. It is always best to hire an electrician to make sure that you are keeping yourself, your family, and your dwelling protected. At Morrison Electrical, we are experts at all things electrical and have the licensing necessary to keep everything powered and everyone safe. Contact us today to discuss your renovation project!