As a homeowner, you may be tempted to take shortcuts when it comes to home electrical work in order to save money or time. However, most of these "hacks" are unsafe and can put you and your family at risk of electrical fires or shock. Proper electrical work should always be performed by a licensed electrician following all applicable building codes and safety standards.
That said, there are some unconventional wiring techniques that are safe when done correctly. Here are 7 tips that electricians may not readily share, but can make certain electrical projects easier.
1. Use Push-in Wire Connectors for Simple Connections
Traditional wire nuts require twisting wires together, which can be tedious. Push-in wire connectors are a huge time-saver for basic connections like switches and outlets. Just strip the wire, insert it into the connector, and it automatically clamps down to form a secure connection.
This works well for solid core wires 14-12 AWG. Follow manufacturer instructions to ensure full contact. Push-ins are not suitable for larger wires or complex connections.
2. Use Legrand Wiremold Raceways to Hide Wires
Running wires through walls often requires cutting drywall, drilling, patching, etc. Legrand Wiremold raceways let you run wires discreetly along the wall surface. Just secure the plastic channel, snap on the cover, and you have an instant wire channel.
Great for rewiring old houses or finishing attics/basements. Note that visible surface wiring may violate code in some areas.
3. Use Flat Ethernet Cables Under Carpets
Rather than drilling holes to fish Ethernet cables, use slim flat Ethernet cables that can slip beneath carpet edging and floor molding. The flat design prevents lumps.
Just ensure cables are plenum-rated for fire safety. Limit to low-voltage applications only.
4. Install Low Voltage Landscape Lighting Yourself
Outdoor landscape lighting can get expensive. Fortunately, 12V outdoor lighting systems are simple enough for DIY installation.
Just be sure to use outdoor-rated, gel-filled cables and compact LED fixtures. Have an electrician connect the low voltage transformer.
5. Use Wire Nuts for Lamp Rewiring
Over time, lamp cords and plugs can wear out. Rather than replacing the whole lamp, simply cut the cord near the base and use wire nuts to connect the wires to a new cord/plug.
Ensure the new components are properly rated for the lamp wattage. Match wire colors carefully and wrap connections with electrical tape.
6. Install TV Mounts into Wall Studs
TV wall mounts require serious holding power. For solid support, always locate and drill into wall studs rather than just drywall anchors.
Use a stud finder to detect stud edges. Add extra toggles on drywall between studs if needed. This prevents ripped-out drywall disasters.
7. Label Circuit Breakers
With unlabeled circuit breakers, finding the right one can mean inconvenient trial and error. Labelling each breaker makes it obvious which switch controls what.
Just turn off appliances one at a time and flip breakers until power cuts out. Use tape flags or labels to mark the correct breaker clearly.
While home electrical hacks may save money, most either violate code or jeopardize safety. Stick to proven wiring methods like having a licensed electrician handle all major electrical work. For minor DIY jobs, follow safety procedures closely.
Research thoroughly, use extreme care, and inspect all work for issues. If in doubt, hire an electrician - saving money isn't worth risking fires or electrocution. Be smart, be safe, and your unconventional wiring projects will turn out “lights on” rather than dangerous.