How to Safely Install Exposed Wiring in Your Home
Installing exposed wiring in your home can allow for a modern, industrial look, but it does come with some safety concerns. As the homeowner, it is critical that you educate yourself and take the proper precautions before taking on this type of project. By following important safety guidelines, using the right materials, and working carefully, you can successfully and safely install exposed wiring.
Research Local Building Codes
The first step is to research your local building codes to determine what is allowed and required in your area. There may be restrictions on where and how exposed wiring can be installed. Be sure to get any necessary permits before starting work.
- Contact your local building/permit office to learn about relevant codes and permit requirements.
- Consult an electrician if you have any doubts or questions. Getting professional advice can help prevent mistakes.
- Consider hiring an electrician to do the work if you are uncomfortable with the complexity of the project.
Choose the Right Materials
Using the proper materials is key for safety. Here are a few tips:
- Use only wiring approved for exposed installation. Standard NM cable is not suitable. Look for wiring marketed as open wiring, loomex, or SE cable.
- Choose the right gauge wire for the type of lighting or appliances on the circuit. Heavier wire gauges are safer for higher wattages.
- Use metal or PVC conduits to contain and protect exposed runs. Conduit improves safety and aesthetics.
- Invest in high-quality electrical boxes and connectors. Do not compromise on parts up to code.
Purchasing supplies from reputable electrical supply stores rather than general hardware stores can help ensure you get the right exposed wiring materials.
Careful installation is crucial:
- Shut off power at the breaker box before starting. Verify it is off!
- Follow code requirements for securing wires properly and leaving enough access space.
- Neatly route and fasten wires using appropriate anchors, ties, and conduits. Prevent tension or pulling.
- Use junction boxes to transition between concealed and exposed wiring.
- Label all circuits at boxes so they can be easily identified.
- Keep exposed wiring out of reach and away from flammable materials. Minimum heights apply.
- Check your work thoroughly before restoring power. Verify neutral/ground connections.
Taking it slow and methodically following safety procedures will go a long way in preventing electrical hazards.
For aesthetics, you may want to:
- Group wires together into clean bundles rather than having them randomly strewn about.
- Use wire covers to add color. Look for approved covers made of plastic or metal.
- Paint conduits to match your wall colors using appropriate paint.
- Use matching anchors and fasteners colored to blend with your wires or walls.
Hire a Professional If Unsure
If at any point you feel unsure about safely installing exposed wiring based on your skill level, hire a licensed electrician. While it may cost more, it can give you peace of mind knowing the work was done properly.
Once installed, be sure to:
- Never touch exposed wiring without turning off power at the breaker first.
- Keep flammable items like drapes away from exposed wires.
- Inspect periodically for any damage, loose connections or fraying.
- Repair issues immediately to prevent hazards. Contact an electrician if necessary.
By following these guidelines, you can successfully plan and install exposed wiring in a safe manner that meets code. Pay close attention to details, work carefully, and get professional help when needed.