Working a trade is a supremely lucrative career path in America, with skilled labor in constant high demand. Electricians in particular are high-demand workers, with positions in numerous fields and with many different specialisms available.
Electrical engineers might design and install circuitry, while industrial electricians might install large-scale systems. Maintenance electricians earn their keep in the upkeep of these systems – but if you were to become one, what would your toolkit look like?
Common Tools and Equipment for Maintenance Electricians
Pliers, Cutters, and Strippers
The bread and butter of any electrician’s toolset is their collection of pliers, cutters, and strippers. Whatever the job or project, commercial and domestic electricians alike will be wrangling wires and cables – from panel installations to cable runs through and over walls.
To properly terminate cables at their destination, electricians need cutters to cut the wire to size and strippers to remove the insulating material from the outside. Many strippers are also combination crimping tools, used to fix non-solder terminals to cables for panel installations and other specific maintenance tasks.
Pliers, meanwhile, are a universally useful implement. They can be used to manipulate solid-core wires to shape, or simply as an insulated grabbing tool for live wires that pose a risk.
Arguably the most important pieces of equipment in a maintenance electrician’s arsenal are those that perform testing functions. Maintenance electricians are chiefly working with existing systems and installations, whether equipment arrays or building electricity supply. In many cases, these systems are live during maintenance, posing a mortal risk to the electrician. As such, voltage testers are key for checking wires before handling them.
Other testing tools are indispensable for their diagnostic functions, too. Portable multimeters and oscilloscopes enable electricians to trace the signal flow and identify faulty components or cables with safety and precision.
Cables and Cable Management
Naturally, maintenance electricians will need access to a stock of materials to properly effect repairs and maintenance. Hook-up wires of various sizes are essential for replacing faulty wiring in smaller circuits and panels, alongside spools of larger cables for bigger industrial repairs.
Electricians will also need access to various forms of cable management, to keep their progress neat and ‘readable’ as they go. Electrical tape can be used to great effect in color-coding wires and grouping them temporarily, while cable ties ensure a semi-permanent fix to surfaces when work is complete.
Safety has already been touched upon here, but it is a paramount concern for maintenance electricians working with extremely high voltages and amperages. There are numerous forms of personal protective equipment (PPE) that electricians use to keep safe.
A full-coverage boiler suit is a common item found amongst electricians, limiting available skin for direct contact with live terminals or bare wire. Insulated boots are also used to great effect, lifting electrical from the ground and preventing any inadvertent shocks from touching a terminal with one hand.