Skip to content

Tackling Electrical Problems Like a Pro: A Guide for Electrical Troubleshooting

    Why Electrical Troubleshooting skills are essential:

    Regarding electrical troubleshooting, being on top of your game is non-negotiable for any sparky. It’s not just about knowing your stuff; it’s about cracking the code, solving the puzzle, and getting the job done right. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of effective electrical troubleshooting, allowing aspiring electricians in Australia to ace their trade.

    Understanding Electrical Systems for Fundamental Electrical Troubleshooting:

    Before you roll up your sleeves, ensure you have a solid grip on electrical systems and components. Get cosy with circuits, wiring diagrams, and all the bits and bobs like switches, outlets, and circuit breakers. Understanding how electricity flows and spotting potential trouble spots will set you up for success.

    Safety First:

    First things first – safety is the name of the game. Before you dive in, double-check that the power is off and adequately isolated. Deck yourself in the right gear – think of insulated gloves and safety goggles. And don’t skip on the safety protocols; they are there for a reason.

    Electrical Troubleshooting Methodology:

    Now, let’s get down to business with a step-by-step approach:

    Gather Intel:

    Before you roll up your sleeves and start digging into the nitty-gritty of the electrical system, take some time to gather as much information as possible. Chat with the client or property owner to get a clear picture of the issue. Ask specific questions about the symptoms they’ve noticed, any recent changes or incidents that may have occurred, and any previous attempts at troubleshooting.

    Next, do a walkthrough of the premises to inspect the electrical system visually. Look for any obvious signs of damage, wear, or corrosion, such as burnt-out components, frayed wires, or loose connections. Pay attention to any unusual smells or sounds that could indicate potential issues.

    Finally, review any relevant documentation, such as wiring diagrams, maintenance records, or previous service reports. This information can provide valuable insights into the system’s configuration and history, helping you narrow down potential causes of the problem.

    Tools of the Trade:

    Alright, let’s talk gear. As an Aussie sparky, your toolkit is your best mate on the job. 

    Here’s a rundown of the essential tools you’ll need for effective electrical troubleshooting:


    Think of this as your Swiss Army knife of electrical testing. A multimeter measures voltage, current, and resistance – basically, it tells you what’s going on in the wires. Whether checking for live circuits or testing continuity, a reliable multimeter is necessary.

    Best Multimeter

    Voltage Test Lamp:

    When you need a quick voltage check without pulling out the multimeter, a voltage test lamp is your trusty friend. It’s simple, portable, and perfect for checking whether a circuit is live. Always test your tester on a known source before relying on it.

    Voltage Test Lamp

    Circuit Tracer:

    Have you ever played hide-and-seek with a wire? A circuit tracer takes the guesswork out of tracing wires through walls, floors, or ceilings. Attach the transmitter to one end of the wire and use the receiver to follow its path – easy as pie.

    Circuit Tracer

    Wire Strippers:

    When it’s time to strip down some wires, a good pair of wire strippers is worthy of its weight in gold. Look for ones with adjustable blades to strip wires of different sizes, and remember to double-check your measurements before you start stripping. Below is an image of two different wire strippers. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. The first one, although bulky, does an excellent job of stripping wires, and the second one fits easily in a tool bag. The third one is lightweight but heavy on the wrist, and never touch the fourth one.

    Wire Stripper

    Insulation Resistance Tester:

    An insulation resistance tester is indispensable for diagnosing insulation issues and identifying potential faults. It measures the resistance of insulation materials to ensure they’re up to scratch – vital for maintaining electrical safety standards.

    Insulation Resistance Tester

    Clamp Meter:

    A clamp meter is your best bet when you need to measure current without breaking the circuit. Just clamp it around the wire, and you’ll get an accurate reading of the current flowing through – no need to disconnect anything.

    Clamp Meter

    Continuity Tester:

    If you have a broken wire or a faulty connection, a continuity tester is your go-to weapon for tracking down the source of the problem. Just touch the probes together, and if you hear a beep, you’ve got continuity – simple as that.


    Last but not least, remember to pack a reliable flashlight. Whether working in dimly lit spaces or navigating tight corners in areas such as ceiling cavities and crawl spaces under homes, a bright flashlight will help you see what you’re doing and keep you safe.


    Divide and Conquer:

    Dividing the system into smaller segments or components is like breaking a big problem into bite-sized pieces. This approach helps you tackle the troubleshooting process systematically. Start by identifying the main components or circuits within the electrical system that could contribute to the issue. Then, test each segment individually to pinpoint where the problem lies.

    For example, suppose you’re troubleshooting a power outage in a building. In that case, start by isolating each floor or area of the building and testing the electrical circuits serving those areas. By narrowing down the scope of your investigation, you can focus your efforts and uncover the root cause of the problem more efficiently.

    Process of Elimination:

    Once you’ve divided the system into smaller segments, it’s time to start eliminating potential causes of the problem. This process involves systematically testing and verifying each component or section to determine whether it’s functioning correctly or contributing to the issue.

    For instance, if you’re troubleshooting a malfunctioning light fixture, you might check the bulb to see if it’s burnt out. If the bulb is fine, you’d then test the switch, the wiring, and any other components in the circuit until you identify the source of the problem.

    Throughout this process, keeping track of your findings and observations is essential. Documenting what you’ve tested and ruled out can help you avoid retracing your steps and provide valuable insights into the troubleshooting process.

    Get Your Hands Dirty:

    Once you’ve identified the cause of the problem, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. This process could involve anything from replacing a faulty component to repairing damaged wiring or reconfiguring circuits.

    For example, if you’ve determined that a faulty outlet is causing an electrical issue, you’d replace it with a new one and ensure it’s properly installed and wired. Similarly, if you’ve identified a damaged section of wiring, you’d splice in a new section of wire and secure it safely to restore the integrity of the circuit.

    This step requires careful attention to detail and adherence to safety protocols. Double-check your work and test the affected circuits to ensure everything functions correctly before moving on.

    Test, Test, Test:

    Testing is the final step in the troubleshooting process. It is essential to verify that the issue is resolved satisfactorily. This process involves testing the affected circuits under full load conditions.

    For example, if you’ve repaired a faulty circuit, you’d test it by turning on the power and verifying that all connected devices or appliances are functioning as expected. You’d also check for signs of overheating, sparking, or other abnormal behaviour that could indicate lingering issues.

    Thorough testing helps ensure the reliability and safety of the electrical system and provides peace of mind that the problem has been resolved. Don’t rush this step – take the time to thoroughly test and verify your work to avoid any potential issues after you leave the site.

    Continuous Learning and Improvement for Electrical Troubleshooting:

    Electrical troubleshooting is a skill that gets better with practice. Stay in the loop with the latest tech and techniques through ongoing training. Don’t be shy to seek seasoned sparkies for advice – there’s always something new to learn.


    Nailing electrical troubleshooting isn’t just about knowing the volts from your ohms – it’s about being a problem-solving pro. By following a systematic approach, staying safe, and keeping up with the latest trends, Aussie Sparkies can confidently tackle any electrical problem. So, grab your toolkit and get ready to spark some magic!

    If you want to master electrical, the Australian Institute of Electrotechnology (AUSINET) offers specialised electrical courses using proven training methods. If you are looking to upskill or start in electrical, please check the courses we currently offer at

    Please also check out our reviews using the following links:

    Google Reviews | Trustpilot Reviews | Facebook Reviews | Product Review

    Leave a Reply

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

    Recent posts