When an electrician discourages you from doing your own electrical work, it’s with your safety in mind. There is much more to repairing electrical problems that simply shutting off the power and turning it back on when the project is finished.
- Repairs must be done correctly
- Installing new wiring, outlets, and certain fixtures must be done correctly
- Testing repairs and new electrical work needs to be done correctly
Even what may appear to be the simplest electrical job, replacing an old receptacle, for example, can expose you to electrical shock if not done with the greatest of care.
The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFi), reports that:
- There are nearly 400 electrocutions in the United States each year
- Wiring hazards, such as damaged or exposed household wiring, accounts for nearly 14 percent of electrocution deaths
- The leading cause of the largest fires in the United States is an electrical malfunction
Following these tips from the electricians at San Luis Obispo’s Electricraft, Inc. can help keep you and your family safe.
- Learn the warning signals and never ignore them. Signs of electrical problems include sparks, popping or buzzing noises, smoke, hot light switches, odd smells, and ongoing problems with breakers. Call an electrician right away. These problems are indications of something wrong in the electrical system.
- Make sure all receptacles are up to code. All outlets within six feet of a water source should be protected by a ground fault circuit interrupt (GFCI). Install a weatherproof cover on all outdoor receptacles so the cover can be closed to keep water and moisture out while a cord is plugged in.
- Consider tamper-resistant receptacles that are designed to prevent children from inserting objects.
- Unless you have a brand new home there is a very good chance that the wiring has been repaired and not always by someone with the right experience. Attempting to unravel a nest of wiring without knowing how to test for voltage and which tools to use is dangerous.
- Installing a three-slot receptacle to replace a two-slot is not as simple as it seems. Three-slot receptacles require grounding and a tester is needed to determine if the grounding is adequate.
- Low voltage does not mean there is no danger. You can still get shocked if you don’t know what you are doing.
- Don’t use tape to hold down a circuit breaker. If the breaker is consistently shutting off is a sign of a problem in your electrical system. Taping it “on” only masks the problem and sets you up for a dangerous situation.
- Call 811 before you dig. 811 is the national phone number to call for locating underground power lines. Digging without identifying power lines can lead to electrocution and power outages.
- Overhead power lines are live. Be careful when working outside around power lines. Call on the experts to trim trees that reach into power lines. Don’t attempt to move a power line that may have been broken by a falling tree branch, or is lowered or touching the ground. Always call the utility company and block off the area until the experts arrive.
Doing it yourself can be a great sense of accomplishment, depending on what you are making and how familiar you are with the tools. Anything from building birdhouses, building furniture, gardening, adding a new room to the house, fixing your own vehicle and painting and sculpting are wonderful skills that bring pleasure. Regardless of what you do, learning is part of the accomplishment. Working with electricity requires learning and expertise that can make a difference between a successful repair and a traumatic injury.
Be safe and call the experts at Electricraft, Inc. for help.