Wiring a home can seem daunting, but with the right preparation and safety precautions, I can wire my home properly without any disastrous mishaps. In this guide, I will share little-known tips and tricks to help you wire like a pro and avoid electrical fires or shocks. The electrical contractors may not appreciate me spilling all their secrets, but safety comes first!

Safety Gear and Precautions

Before I start any electrical work, safety has to be my top priority. Here are some key steps I take:

Wear Protective Equipment

When dealing with live wires, I always wear rubber-soled shoes, insulated gloves, and safety goggles for protection from shocks. I don't want to become part of the circuit!

Turn Off Power at Main Circuit Breaker

Before accessing any wires, I turn off the main circuit breaker to cut power to the entire house. I also double check with a voltage tester that the wires are dead. I never work on live wires.

Use GFCIs and Avoid Overloads

I always use GFCI outlets near water sources like kitchens and bathrooms to prevent shocks. I also never overload outlets or extension cords to prevent fires.

Have an Extinguisher Handy

As an extra precaution, I keep a fire extinguisher nearby, just in case any sparks fly. I hope to never use it, but it's good to have just in case.

Picking the Right Wire Gauge

One key factor in safe wiring is using the proper wire gauge for the amount of electricity needed. Here are some tips:

Calculate Electrical Load

I add up the wattage of all devices on the circuit to determine the amps needed. Higher electrical load needs thicker wires.

Choose Appropriate Wire Size

For 15 amp circuits, I use 14 gauge wire. For 20 amp circuits, I move up to 12 gauge. Any high load appliances get 10 gauge wire.

When in Doubt, Go Thicker

If unsure between two wire gauges, I choose the thicker one for safety. Thicker wire allows less heat buildup from electricity.

Installing New Wiring

Running new wire through walls and ceilings takes planning and care. Here are my steps:

Map Out the Circuit

I draw diagrams of where the wiring will run and place of outlets, switches and appliances. Planning ahead saves a lot of headaches.

Fish Wire through Walls

I use a fish tape to route my new wiring through walls and ceilings between outlets and fixtures. I make small holes to feed the wire through.

Allow Slack at Connections

When running wire, I leave 6-12 extra inches at ends to allow room to connect outlets and switches. Nothing worse than coming up short!

Secure with Staples

I use insulated staples every 2-3 feet when running wire through joists or studs. This prevents sagging and keeps the wire tidy.

Installing Outlets and Switches Safely

Outlets and switches need proper installation and grounding to be safe. Here are my best practices:

Wrap Wires Correctly

I wrap my circuit wire clockwise around the screws, and wrap the pigtail from the outlet counter-clockwise. This keeps the connection tight.

Ground Every Outlet

I always connect the ground wire in an outlet to ensure safe operation. Ungrounded outlets can lead to shocks.

Use Box Extenders When Needed

If my wire sheathing extends into the outlet box, I use a box extender to give me room to work safely. Crowded boxes are hazardous.

Secure with Proper Cover Plate

I use an extra-duty outlet cover plate that fully seals around receptacle edges. This protects from sparks if plugs pull out slightly.

Inspecting and Testing My Work

After any electrical work, I always thoroughly inspect and test to catch any wiring mishaps:

Give the Work a Close Visual Inspection

I check for any loose wire connections, fraying, pinching, or other defects before turning power back on. I don't want sparks flying!

Use a Voltage Tester

Once power is on, I double check with a voltage tester to make sure power is flowing properly through all new wires and outlets. I also verify the ground is connected using a receptacle tester.

Check for Heat Build-Up

Feeling around wires and connections for any concerning heat is another great safety check. Warmth means potentially dangerous resistance.

Following these methods, I can upgrade the wiring in my home with confidence it was done safely and correctly. While it takes diligence and care, the skills needed are very attainable with proper precautions. Soon, I'll be wiring like a pro! Just don't tell the electrical contractors I gave away all their insider tricks.