Electrical Toolkit And Surviving A Power Outage

First up, the electrical toolkit we talk about includes some key tools for doing electrical work and we talk about a comment on an article in Fine Homebuilding called “An Electrical ToolKit” by Brian Walo.
Fine Homebuilding says (about Brian Walo’s article):

He recommends three electrical testers, a variety of drivers (Phillips head, flat head, nut driver, and Robertson drivers), pliers (side-cutting, crimpers, strippers, end cut, and needle nose), and materials (electrical tape, wire nuts, crimping sleeves, bonding screws, cable clamps, staples, and screws).

Well, we discuss what a typical handyguy may want to have and share some of our own favorites in the podcast.

Below are some must haves.


Electrical test KitWell, we think there should be several types of testers. Some simple, some fancier, depending on what you are testing. The three types each have different purposes.
First – A non-contact voltage Tester. This type of tester can tell you if you if a wire is “hot” without needing to remove a wire nut. Its a good first check but many recommend that you also use a true voltage meter to be positive the electric is off before you work on something.
Second – A tester that checks for correct wiring. These are simple devices that you plug into a receptacle and indicator lights tell you if its wired correctly. The one in our kit below also can test GFCIs.
Third – A voltage meter – A voltage meter is used to measure the voltage on a particular wire or for testing continuity. It can also test batteries and other low voltage circuits.


Screwdrivers are needed. For electrical work, a number of different sizes and styles are needed. The Handyguys and the author of the Fine Homebuilding article all despise “standard” or slotted screwdrivers but they are a necessary part of the process. ScrewdriversYou couldn’t install a faceplate without one. Many of the older devices only have slotted screw heads. You will need two sizes of slotted, small and medium. Philips is pretty common these days and a decent #2 Philips is probably your most used size. Many of the newest devices use square drive or Robertson tips. They give very good positive grip on the screw heads.

This square drive screwdriver has a little hook right below the handle for bending wire. It really speeds up the job of putting in outlets and switches because you do not need to reach for your pliers to put the bend on the end of a wire you are going to terminate.


Get the best pair of lineman’s pliers you can buy. Cheap ones will dull, Lineman Plierschip and generally frustrate you . They are used for many things from cutting, twisting, crimping and pulling.

Strippers – You can strip wire with a pocket knife or even your lineman’s pliers. A tool dedicated to the task will be easier and faster.


In the podcast, we also go into a lot of other items such as wire nuts, screws, crimps, clamps, staples and so forth. If you want links to any of that, just use our contact form and we will get them for you.


  • Have some extra screws handy. 8/32 and 6/32 will be the most common size.
  • For fishing wire, the author uses a 10′ piece of pex tubing. Read the article for how that works.

When the power goes out.

The music provided at the beginning of this segment is from Mevio’s Music Alley. Check it out at music.mevio.com

Portable Generator

Standby GeneratorWhen would you use a portable generator and when would you want a standby generator? The Handyguys discuss the options and pros and cons of different types.

Bottom line – when using a portable generator make sure you follow all of the safety rules provided in the owners manual.

This post is sponsored by erento – Whatever the magnitude or complexity of the project you wish to undertake, online tool hire will provide you necessary tools and equipment.

15 thoughts on “Electrical Toolkit And Surviving A Power Outage

  1. Good show!
    I’ve been told that every 5 years (?) or so, you should have an electrician go through your service panel and tighten all of the terminals on the breakers. Vibrations can loosen the connections, and also, the wire can crush out of shape over time and loosen the connection. What do you know about this? Would this be true of the connections on your switches, outlets and junction boxes too? This would seem to be a daunting (and expensive) task!

    Also, I’ve heard varying reports on arc-fault breakers. What’s the latest?


    1. Hey Steve – Thanks for your comments and questions.
      No – There is no need to re-tighten the connections if they were done properly to begin with. It is true that bad connections can cause problems. If you have a panel with a lot of shoddy work then maybe you want to have an electrician check everything out. If everything looks nice and neat thats a good sign things were done correctly.

      As for Arc fault – Around here the latest is they are required for bedroom outlet circuits only, I’m pretty sure thats becoming standard. I have them and have no issues.

    1. There are plenty of good brands – By best I assume you mean quality of construction. Some quality brands are Craftsman, Klein (the ones in our post) and Snap-on.

  2. Definitely worth the read, Good ideas guys. And to Steve who was asking about tightening the connections, if your really unsure get a certified electrician to check it, its not expensive for a consultation, that or you can get your local home inspector to look at it. I would start there personally.
    frosted window film

  3. I have the same dishwasher that you worked on in Episode #70. I have a different issue with mine but can’t find the model number on the machine nor can I find it on your website (you mentioned in the video that you would post it). My issue is that nothing happens when I push the start button. I can run the test cycle by pushing Normal Wash and Heated Dry alternately. The heat seems to work but I can’t get a regular cycle out of the washer anymore. Any ideas? Or, at the very least, could you tell me the model number of the dishwasher?

  4. Quite a few good issues right here and really didnt have a clue about almost any of this before so with thanks for your

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.