Too often, I see DIY installation and repairs throughout the home inspection process that are wrong, and just plain unsafe! When it comes to doing electrical repairs and dealing with electrical problems, trying to sort them out yourself is one of the most dangerous and ultimately costly approaches that you can take. Too many people underestimate the complexity of the services carried out by a licensed electrician and think that they will be able to address the problem without the need for professional electrical contractor.
When working with electricity, safety should be priority one! While it is true that there are some electrical jobs that a number of people can successfully complete, all too often the average person is unaware of the safety measures and precautions that are taken by trained and reputable electricians.
There really is no substitute for having a job done thoroughly and safely by hiring a professional licensed electrician to complete your repairs. I can't stress enough, call a pro when it comes to electricity! It could save your life!
That being said, what are some of the most common electrical mistakes made by people who know little about working with electricity? Below is a great sample of what I see daily!
#1: Using incorrectly sized wires and cables
The term ‘gauge’ refers to the variety of sizes that electrical wire comes in. Different sized wires are used for different jobs and purposes and the gauge of the wire also dictates the areas in which it should be used. If the wrong sized wire is used for the electrical current, overheating or a shorting of the fuse or circuit breaker can result. Therefore, it is very important that the wire and devices that are appropriately rated for the amperage they will carry are used.
#2: Incorrect repairs of outlets and switches
We can all picture outlets and switches that seem to dangle from the wall. Perhaps you even have some of these around your home or office. Outlets and switches in such a state are categorically dangerous. When appliances are plugged in to loosely fitted outlets, the wires can loosen from their terminals and cause arcing and overheating.
#3: Poor connections in electrical boxes or missing junction boxes
Never attempt to make electrical connections outside of electrical junction boxes. The purpose of electrical boxes is to provide protection from external elements; if you wish for an extension, a metal or plastic box should be used.
It is also hazardous to add to or overfill electrical boxes with connections as this increases the likelihood of short-circuiting and overheating.
#4: Replacement of breakers/fuses
Protection of wire ampacity ratings, together with the electrical flow onto all connected appliances, is afforded by the safety mechanisms of breakers and fuses. It is often the case that when a fuse keeps blowing a person believes that it just needs to be replaced – over and over again – or that a bigger fuse or breaker needs to be used. Frighteningly, this is one of the major causes of home fires and continually replacing fuses or resetting breakers is dangerous.
If a fuse continually blows, or the breaker trips, there is a problem with the circuit wiring and this needs to be attended to by a professional and qualified electrician.
#5: Loose connections
It is important that all connections in a breaker/fuse box are tight and correctly placed. If connections are loose, appliances and lights will often flicker and perhaps even shut off. In the worst case, circuits will overheat, potentially creating a fire hazard!
If you suspect that you have a problem with your electrical connections, arrange to have them inspected by an electrician. While it is definitely not recommended that you try to inspect them yourself, be aware that it is essential that breakers are turned off before they are examined.
#6: Overloading outlets and electrical cords
Overloading switches or outlets is one of the most frequently seen electrical mistakes. It may not seem a problem as multiple adaptors and switches with many outlets can easily be purchased, but if a circuit is loaded up with more amps than it can handle, the breaker is at greater risk of tripping. This risk is especially great when switches and outlets are loaded up with big appliances such as air conditioners, refrigerators and dishwashers.
When it comes to the use of electrical cords, electricians recommend that an electrical cord only be used if it has the required ampacity.
Please remember, extension cords are not designed for use as permanent electrical supply!
The common electrical mistakes covered in this article are ones that many of us relate to; in fact, many are present in the average home or workplace. It is important to be mindful of these problems and always seek the services of an electrician to fix electrical problems.
Have a question regarding your electrical system? Call me! I can help!