A general guide on how to carry out small electrical repair works at your home

Do you want to replace the defective LED baton at your home? Do you want to replace the faulty switch on the switchboard? This article is a do-it-yourself guide to learn about the tools required and precautions which you must take to carry out electrical repairs/replacements of basic things in your home.


Many of us try new things at home. It can be anything ranging from cooking new dishes to try our hands at painting a window. Many of you might be decorating your house with lights during Diwali and Christmas, but do you know by paying a little attention you can carry out small electrical repair works at your home too without the help of an electrician? Though it is always recommended to call a technician in case of major issues, you can try yourself a few little things without any external help.

For example, replacement of a light bulb or the LED baton can be taken up by anybody without much technical knowledge and you can easily do it by observing a few things and applying your common sense. Many people think that working on electrical systems can be hazardous, but maintaining little precautions will always prove beneficial to you.

While replacing a light bulb doesn't require any tools if the lampshade is of open type and the bulb is easily accessible, you will mostly require a screwdriver if the shade is covered and fixed with screws. Many of you might be replacing the light bulb yourself. There are many who think replacing the LED baton is a tough job, it's actually not that tough. You can even replace switches for the lights and fans on the switchboard if you wish to do so. However, to carry out these jobs you should possess a few necessary tools and follow the precautions described below.

Precautions before carrying out any electrical work

  • Whether you are replacing the light bulb or carrying out a small repair, remember to keep the switch of the respective device in off position before carrying out the job.

  • Never touch any naked wire or metal contacts while carrying out the repair. Check out whether electricity is present in the wire or the metal contact with an electric line tester and if you are not sure about the use of a particular naked wire, wrap insulation tape around it to cover the naked portion.

  • If you open the switchboard to replace any switch or power plug, take out the fuse from the socket or switch off the MCB by flipping it into off position. Always remember to check the presence of electricity on the metallic contacts and wires even after switching off the MCB or taking out the fuse for your safety.

  • Do not touch the contacts, no need to use your hands also while unscrewing the contacts to insert a wire. Use the pliers for holding the wire and screwdriver/line tester to open the screws.

  • Never keep the twisted portion of the joined wires open. Insulate it with electrical tape to prevent any untoward incident.

  • For carrying out small repair jobs, you need a few essential tools that are described in brief below.

    Electric line tester

    Whenever you are working on electrical systems, you need an electrical line tester. It is a pen-like device to check the presence of electricity in wires or any connections. Just touch the pointed tip, like the tip of a screwdriver as shown in the diagram below, of the electric line tester on any contact that is directly connected with wires to the main line and you will find the light inside the tester glowing to show the presence of electricity there. In few of the line testers, you may have to touch the other flat end of the tester with your fingertip to get the indication. Remember one thing, you will get the indication only in the wires connected to phase/line. If you apply the tester on the neutral wire, you will never see an indication, which means electricity is not present there.


    Screwdriver set

    You require a screwdriver to unscrew any item that is fixed with screws. The screwdriver comes in many shapes and sizes and is used for different purposes. If you do not have one, it's better to purchase a screwdriver set where different types of drive tips are included, has a handle with a good grip, hardy and durable.


    Pliers have many uses. It is used for twisting wires, gripping and holding different objects tightly and also for cutting wires. It is available in different shapes and sizes. A Lineman's pliers is a simple one and is available at any tools shop. Keep it with you and use it for different purposes.

    Insulation tape

    Insulation tape or Electrical tape is always necessary and is used to insulate the conductors of electricity. It can be made of plastic or vinyl and you should purchase one of a branded quality that has good stretchability and insulation.

    Drilling machine

    If you wish to fix a new lampshade, a new LED baton or fit another switchboard, you need a drilling machine to make holes on the walls or wood. Select from the varieties available in the market. You can purchase it online too if you have a little knowledge about those machines. Otherwise, go to a shop and select it according to your requirement.


    A hammer is required to strike the nails or screws when you are fixing something on the wall. The requirement of a hammer is optional if you do not want to strike objects, though it has many uses and may come handy for some other purpose.

    Other than the above-mentioned tools you do not require anything more to carry out small repair works, but if you want to take up some more work then there are other tools for the specific purpose.

    Things to remember

    While working on electrical lines, you must have an idea of phase/line and neutral. Phase/line is the wire where electricity is present. The electric line tester is used on the phase to check the presence of electricity there. Below is a simple diagram of the front view of a wall socket/power plug where the line and neutral are shown clearly to avoid any confusion.

    power plug

    The line is on the right side, so if you insert the line tester inside the right hole of the socket and press the power on switch of the socket, the tester will glow up. This is the convention and if you see otherwise, you must call the technician to sort out the problem. While replacing wall sockets, you will find L, N and E mentioned on the metal contacts of the socket that indicates Line, Neutral and Earth respectively and should connect the appropriate wires on the respective contacts. The same thing is applied while replacing plug tops also and you should reconnect the wires in the terminals of the plug top like it was in the old one.


    At times the electrician may not be available immediately, but you need to replace a particular light or switch within a specific time. If you can manage and know how to carry out these replacements, you do not require any external help. Just follow the precautions mentioned here to avoid electric shock and carry out the work on your own. In many houses, a screwdriver is always available. Other than a screwdriver, keep few essential tools at your disposal to use them for a different purpose so that you don't have to take help of others. A little knowledge of the electrical connections is essential to reconnect the devices properly and with the knowledge of the application of the tools mentioned here, you can carry out even some more household repair works.

    Article by Sankalan Bhattacharya
    Sankalan "Life is easier when you enjoy what you do"

    Follow Sankalan Bhattacharya or read 34 articles authored by Sankalan Bhattacharya

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