Should Homeowners Attempt Electrical Work?

Electrical work is not always the best do-it-yourself project. If a homeowner makes mistakes in the electrical system it can result in electrical malfunctions, shocks, or even home electrical fires. Electrical work is supposed to be inspected and approved. This is for safety even though it can be inconvenient. The homeowner attempting electrical work should read up on how to do the work properly before attempting the job. Homeowners doing their own electrical work can make ten common mistakes. Mistakes should be avoided for family safety.

What Are The Ten Common Homeowner Electrical Mistakes?

  • 1. Making connections outside of electrical boxes where they are unprotected. Junction boxes protect electrical connections from accidental damage and can contain sparks from a loose or improper connection or a short circuit. Add a new electrical box and reconnect the wires within it.
  • 2. Wires cut too short can be a danger. Wires should be at least three inches protruding from the box. Too short wires can have six-inch extension wires added on to them.
  • 3. Do not leave plastic-sheathed cable unprotected. The plastic sheathing is easy to damage when it is located between framing elements. Electrical code requires cable to be protected. A 1 1/2 inch thick board can be installed by the cable.
  • 4. Don’t leave loose, poorly supported electrical outlets and switches. They not only look bad, they are dangerous. Loose wiring can arc and overheat causing a dangerous fire hazard. Fix any loose outlets or switches by shimming under screws to form a tight connection to the box. There are special spacers to purchase for this purpose.
  • 5. It is dangerous to install a three-slot receptacle without using a ground wire. This may happen when a homeowner replaces a two-slot receptacle with new three-slot receptacles for use with three prong plugs. Make sure there is a ground available by using a tester available at hardware stores.
  • 6. Don’t recess boxes behind wall surfaces where they will form a fire hazard.
  • 7. Do not install cable without the proper clamp. Electrical code requires clamps.
  • 8. Do not be tempted to overfill electrical boxes. This presents a fire hazard. Use a larger box.
  • 9. Make sure the hot and neutral wires are not reversed. This can present a shocking hazard.
  • 10. Wiring a GFCI backward causes a loss of shock protection.

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