Electrical work can seem daunting, but with the right knowledge and precautions, minor tasks like installing a new light fixture or outlet can be manageable as a DIY project. However, more complex wiring should always be left to a trained professional. Your electrician has years of experience and wants you to be safe.
Here are 7 tips to help you carry out basic electrical work prudently. But when in doubt, call a professional!
1. Turn Off Power at the Breaker
Before doing any electrical work, switch off the circuit breaker to the applicable wires. This cuts power and reduces the risk of shock. Test wires with a non-contact voltage tester to double check they are truly dead. Verify it's the correct circuit by turning on the light or outlet you plan to work on to see it lose power.
2. Use Insulated Tools and Gloves
When dealing with wires, use insulated screwdrivers and wire strippers. Wear rubber-soled shoes and gloves to prevent accidental shocks. Make sure your workspace is dry. Take precautions like you would with plumbing to keep electricity and water safely apart.
3. Connect Wires Securely
Loose connections can cause dangerous shorts and fire hazards. Secure wires firmly together with proper sized wire nuts, crimp connectors or terminal screws. Give each connection a gentle tug to verify it won't come apart. Wrap connections with electrical tape for additional protection.
4. Follow Codes for Box Fill
Stuffing too many wires into an electrical box can overheat wires or break connections. Abide by local regulations for how much wire can fill a box. Use a bigger box if needed. Never leave a box overfilled or with loose wires.
5. Use Proper Wire Nuts
Wire nuts come in different sizes, each made to join a certain number and gauge of wires. Using the wrong size nut for too many or too thick of wires can cause a poor connection. Consult packaging to verify you have the proper wire nut. Never use regular nuts in place of wire nuts!
6. Label New Wires
When adding or changing circuits, properly label each wire to make its purpose clear. This aids future maintenance. Use labels saying things like “Kitchen outlets” or “Bathroom light”. Add labels within boxes, at terminals, and especially near the breaker box.
7. Call an Electrician for Major Work
If you are ever unsure about tackling an electrical project, call a professional electrician. They have the proper training, tools and expertise to safely handle complex jobs like installing new branches, outlets or large appliances. Don't take risks with electricity!
With safety foremost in mind, minor electrical DIY projects can certainly be managed without an electrician's help. But anything complex or uncertain should be left to the pros. Their years of experience allow them to swiftly and securely complete jobs that could be dangerous for amateurs. They want you to be safe, so call them when in doubt!