There’s no such thing as a little mistake when working with electricity. Some other DIY mistakes around the house might be minor. When working on something electrical, a foul up might cause a fire or an electrocution. You don’t want to take a risk. It’s important to know many of the common electrical mistakes a homeowner might make before taking on such a job yourself.
Not Use a Junction Box
Failing to install and use a junction box may the worst mistake DIY’rs make. Junction or J boxes hold connected wires in a box in order to keep them from touching combustible material such as wood. Junction boxes prevent damage from heat and sparks from a short, a surge, physical damage or a bad connection. Junction boxes are steel or plastic. It’s an additional step in a project, yes, but it’s important and worth it. Junction boxes, and the proper use of the boxes, are mandatory by building codes in most of the U.S.
New Appliances With Old Wires
When you install a new appliance or major electronic device, it’s a good idea to take the opportunity to rewire that circuit. New devices can run hotter than older ones. This can make a circuit too hot and overload it. One example is, today’s lights are made to stand up to 90 degrees Celsius, but old wires are made for 60 degrees Celsius.
It might be wise to ask an electrician if a splice box can safely connect the new lighting fixture to the old wires. That would save money and be safe.
Replacing Fuses but With Cheap Ones
Today, many houses have breakers which automatically “flip” or turn off when there is an energy surge. This stops fires, shocks and electrocution. Some older homes, though, still have fuses and they will burn out with a power surge.
When it’s time to change a fuse, putting in cheaper, lesser quality fuses raises your risk of something dangerous happening because of a surge. This is one situation where you can get what you pay for. You should use the best quality fuses possible.
Not Using GFCIs
A GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlet detects the electricity being used in an outlet. If it detects any variation, it cuts off the power. It prevents fires, injury or worse, and damage to appliances or the whole system. A DIY job is not an excuse to skip using GFCIs properly. Install and use GFCI outlets with anything near a water fixture or source. GFCIs are very important in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry, garages, porches, patios and basements. GFCIs can save you from major damage and bad injuries, but only if you have them in the right places and are using them.
Outlets can become loose, unstable or move slightly, especially if they’ve been there for years. You might not think of this as a danger, but it is. It’s a higher risk of overheating and fire. If you’re moving into a new home, or have never or very rarely checked all the outlets, it’s good to see if any need tightening, new outlet covers or just a couple new screws.
Dumb Extension Cord Use
You should only use extension cords according to the instructions. For a couple examples, if you are using an extension cord outside, make sure it’s rated for outdoor use. Do not plug an extension cord into another extension cord.
Only Use the Right Watts
When replacing bulbs, components or whole fixtures, do not put in bulbs or parts that are over the maximum wattage for the socket or device. If you use higher wattage than what is called for, there can be overheating or a short. You can have damage inside the fixture and to wires.
Don’t Overload One Outlet
Having too many plugs in one outlet, or one power strip, or one extension cord, is a risk. It can cause an electrical fire. If you’re adding outlets in a room, it’s wise to make sure you add enough. Some older homes don’t have many outlets. They were made for the electric use of many decades ago. It’s pretty common to add more outlets, but it’s smart to have an electrician handle this project.
Low Voltage Electricity is Still Dangerous
Any electric current is a major danger. A high voltage shock and a low voltage shock are both deadly. The only difference is the high voltage power will be slightly more instantaneous.
A shock at 120 volts can be fatal and it can also have lasting health effects. Always take all possible safety precautions when doing anything with or near electricity or wiring. Make sure the electric power is off before doing any work that could be any level of risk.
Leaving Exposed Wires
Plastic-coated wires in walls or ceilings must be properly protected from framing according to codes. When cables are exposed, building framing can damage them gradually, and it becomes a prospective fire risk. You should use a rigid metal or flexible covering for safety. It’s easy and inexpensive to take care of.
Going Without Testing Voltage
You turned the power off before starting working, good. You should still test the circuit before taking the next step. It’s an easy step. It’s easy to get and use a voltage tester. Testing wires with a voltage tester makes extra sure everything is off and safe. There’s no such thing as being too safe and careful with electricity.
Your best bet? Hire an expert to do the job. South End Electric has the background and understanding to ensure a safe and smooth installation. We can provide everything you need when thinking about a whole home generator for your home and family. Our professionals provide whole-house generator sales and installation to meet your needs. See everything South End Electric can do for you. Call us direct at 704-368-4694.