When we moved into our home 26 years ago, all of our outlets were a tan color. When I painted my rooms an off white, it really brightened things up, but now I needed to replace my light switched and electrical outlets to white. The tan color stuck out like a sore thumb!
My husband and I picked out the supplies we needed at our local Home Depot store, and we thought that changing them out would be a quick and easy job. Well, as is so often the case, nothing is as easy as it seems, and that was our experience today when we came to switching out the electrical box for our light switch.
The electrical box was straight forward. There were three black wires coming out of our wall, two were the hot wires and one was the ground wire. My husband stuck the two hot wires into the correct slots on the box, and nothing happened, our over head light would not turn on. He then hooked up the original outlet box, and again there was no power coming to the outlet.
Not sure what was the cause of our problem, my husband went into his tool box and brought back a small tool called a GB Instruments HI-VIS Voltage Tester. I didn’t even know he had such a tool, and he does not remember where or when he picked it up.
The GB Instruments Voltage Tester is small, with the wires snapped in place, it is about 4 1/2 inches in length and less than an inch wide. This is a high voltage probe tester to test live circuits. The tool says that it will test from 100-250 volt. The main part of the unit is only 2 1/2 inches long, and it has a small clear cover over a bulb, and this lights up when you have live wires touching the wires (one red and one black) coming out of the unit. Each of the wires has a metal probe and they snap in place on the back of the tester.
My husband experimented with the wires coming out of the electrical box, and learned that the ground wire needed to be connected with one of the hot wires, as there was no screw for the ground wire to attach to on the electrical box. Sure enough, as soon as he connected the wires in this manner, we had electricity!
The GB Instruments Voltage Tester is inexpensive, this can be picked up for $4 or less, but it can save your life. Even if you are not an electrician, if you are a home owner there are occasions, such as ours today, when you might need to be able to know if there is electricity coming from one of your wall fixtures. This tool saved the day for us, as there are no instructions that come with the replacement electrical outlets that we purchased. I am very thankful that we had the GB Instruments Voltage Tester on hand to safely allow is to finish our home repair, and to do so in complete safety.