Safety Issues when Working with Electrical Wiring
It’s a great feeling to complete a home improvement or DIY project yourself and it can save you money. But sometimes, instead of creating satisfaction, it can result in injury and leave your home unsafe for you and your family.
Electricity is dangerous. We all use it everyday to power the devices and appliances that are so much a part of our lives. But it can lead to shock and fires if basic safety procures are ignored. If you are planning to undertake some electrical jobs yourself, be aware of the need for safety and take the proper precautions. Some of the commonest mistakes people make working with electricity in their homes are discussed below.
Before doing any work on any part of an electric circuit, it is vital to turn off the relevant circuit breaker or remove the fuse. Every year thousands of people undertaking home improvements receive electric shocks from live wires because they have tried to save a few minutes by not bothering to take this basic step. Yes, you may have to repeatedly go back and forth between your breaker box and the outlet or switch you are working on to reset the breaker and then test your work, but taking a little longer is a better outcome than ending up in the emergency room.
You should never splice wires by just twisting the ends together and wrapping them in tape. They can easily pull apart and quickly create a problem. If bare wire is exposed and is touching a wall, a spark can start a fire. It is much safer to use proper wires connectors and house the connection in a protective box. When connecting wires together always make sure that the size and type of the two wires match.
To ensure safety, electric receptacles should be properly grounded. If you have three pronged outlets, one of those is for the ground path, but if you have an older home with only two pronged outlets, you should call in the services of a professional electrician to remedy this. Replacing a two pronged outlet with a three pronged one does not create the necessary ground path and may lead to a false sense of security. A circuit tester, available from most hardware stores, can indicate whether proper grounding is in place.
Wires for Lighting
If you are installing new lighting fixtures, be aware that the wiring in some older homes may not be rated for as high a temperature as some newer fixtures require. Modern luminaires are generally labeled to indicate the minimum temperature needed for the wire’s insulation. Make sure your wiring has the correct rating. Otherwise you may need to replace it, or look for a light fixture that operates safely with the existing wiring. Using a luminaire that requires wiring with a higher rating than what is in place increases your fire risk.
When working with electricity it is also important to have the proper equipment and take simple precautions, such as wearing rubber soled shoes. Useful equipment includes a wire locator so that your do not drill into your electric cabling and damage it as well as opening yourself up to the risk of injury.
Many people successfully complete DIY jobs on their electric wiring every year, but many others do not. If you are not sure what to do or find that the job you planned is really beyond your capabilities, then call in a professional. Professional licensed electricians undertake several years of training and have to complete detailed exams and so know how to leave your home with the improvements completed and, most importantly, safe.