DIY Network

How to Identify Wiring

Being able to identify wiring makes electrical repairs easier. Use these tips to easily pinpoint problems and connect wires to the correct terminals when making repairs.

More in Electrical

know what each color of wire does in the circuit
Photo 4 of 4Knowing your wires will help you stay safe when performing electrical work.

Electrical Wires(4 of 4)

Here's a rundown of electrical wires:

  • The black wire is the "hot" wire, which carries the electricity from the breaker panel into the switch or light source.

  • The white wire is the "neutral" wire, which takes any unused electricity and current and sends them back to the breaker panel.

  • The plain (or it can sometimes be green) wire is the "ground" wire, which will take electricity back to the breaker panel, then outside to a rod that's buried in the ground. This is to prevent the electricity from running through you!

Electrical safety rules:

  • Wear rubber-soled shoes.

  • Avoid wet floors.

  • Use nonmetallic ladders.

  • Use tools with rubber grips.

  • Check with your local electrical-codes department to make sure you're doing any do-it-yourself project properly.