Making Sense of the Electric Wiring Rainbow

Wire Color Codes: Making Sense of the Electric Wiring Rainbow

If you’re thinking about doing some wiring, you’ve probably noticed that a lot of electrical wires are multi-colored or feature multi-colored nuts. No, this isn’t just to satisfy the contractor’s creative streak. Multi-colored wires and nuts are actually an important part of electrical safety, as they help future contractors understand how the wires work into the electrical system of the building. If you’re thinking about doing some electrical wiring yourself, then, it’s important that you understand the rainbow of electrical wiring so you can make safe and educated decisions as you do it yourself.

Standard Coloring

According to About.Com, some wire colors are standard across buildings throughout the United States. For instance, black, red, blue and yellow wires are always used to denote “hot” wires, or wires that are connected to electricity. Green and copper wires, also called bare wires, however, are used for grounding, so they don’t have a charge. Finally, according to  eHow (, white wires are “neutral” wires that just help to complete an electrical circuit.

Color and Safety

Building codes require certain wire colors for safety reasons. By coloring wires in a standard way, contractors reduce the number of accidents that occur when professionals and DIY-ers accidentally cut the wrong wire. However, colored wiring doesn’t completely remove the danger in electrical work. According to About.Com, the color rules above are broken with some appliance and three-way connections. In addition, some building codes may not have mandated standard color coding, and some contractors may have just put the wiring in wrong. Although most building codes dictate that wires be clearly marked, you can’t guarantee that they have indeed been marked clearly, or even that they’ve been marked at all.

DIY Electrical Wiring and Safety

Because you can’t guarantee that the electrical wiring rainbow will be accurate, you need to take extreme safety measures each time you work with electrical wiring. Always double check to be sure all power has been turned off, and always use caution when working with wires. In other words, don’t be hasty, and make sure you’re working with someone who you can trust. In addition, because all electrical jobs are somewhat dangerous, many choose to hire a professional rather than attempting to do electrical work on their own. Though some electrical jobs seem self explanatory, you need to consider whether you think you know enough about electrical wiring to prevent danger and to handle danger should it occur. If you think you can, plenty of manuals exist to help you brush up on safety measures before you get started. But if you think hiring a professional is the safer option, time-tested home services companies like Castino can provide you with a worker who’s ready to handle everything from your smallest light fixture to your largest electrical outage.