Ideas That Work: Hanging on to Your Tools

Every month, we pick the top Ideas That Work submitted by you, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR readers. These ideas can't be found in any code or guidebook and are only learned or devised through years of experience and thinking, "There's got to be a better way to do this!" Please remember, the ideas presented in this article are for consideration only. Before using such ideas, make sure codes and safety standards have been fully adhered to.

Now, without further ado, here are this issue's Ideas That Work!

Tips for loss prevention

There is no surefire way to protect your tools from
theft and loss, but there are several ways to minimize the risk. Probably the best tip is: Don’t lend your tools to anybody, ever. If
you do, hold the person accountable by making them agree to replace any tool they lose or break. Here’s a summary of other ideas:

  • Take an inventory of every tool you have. Pictures are a nice touch, and make sure you write down serial numbers and descriptions.
  • Find a way to distinctively mark your tools. Use spray paint or colored phasing tape to mark the handles. Also, write your name or initials on the inside of any rubberized grips.
  • Make a specific place for the most commonly used tools in your bag so it is easy to look and see if something is missing. Put tools back in
their spot after each use, or gather everything up and do it after each task. Again, take a picture of the fully loaded pouch.
  • Make sure you keep your tools within sight on the job. Don’t walk away from them to do something else only to come back and find them missing. This is especially true on large, commercial or industrial jobs where many strangers pass through the job site.
  • Finally, keep count of tools you take with you into hard-to-reach places. Count them before going in and again before coming back out.

John Hemmings
Charleston, W.V.

Idea Igniter

Every new building has a fire alarm system, and this month, we would like to focus on fire alarm excellence. We all know those people who seem to be able to start a fire alarm system up with little to no troubles on the system. Please share with us tips, tricks and ideas of how to build excellent fire alarm systems.

Anton and Jesse Mikec

IF YOU HAVE AN IDEA that has saved you time or money on the job, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR ­readers would like to hear about it. Be sure to include a good photo of your idea—hand sketches are often hard to interpret. Note that some similar ideas are submitted by more than one person. In these cases, the one that is more clearly written and includes a photo is given precedence. Send your letter and photo to Ideas Editor, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR, 3 Bethesda Metro Center, Suite 1100, Bethesda, MD 20814-5372, e-mail, or use the online submission tool at


Each published author in Ideas That Work receives a $50 American Express gift card from ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR. In addition, each month’s FIRST PLACE winner will receive a $100 gift certificate from Zoro, to be used at

DISCLAIMER: The ideas presented in this article are for consideration only. Before using such ideas, make sure codes and safety issues have been fully adhered to. ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR disclaims any liability from your use of these or any other ideas. ­ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR reserves the right to reprint the words herein at its discretion.

Stay Informed Join our Newsletter

Having trouble finding time to sit down with the latest issue of
ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR? Don't worry, we'll come to you.