Safe Wiring Methods Everyone Should Avoid

Electrical wiring is an essential part of any building, but it can also be very dangerous if not done properly. There are some unsafe wiring methods that should always be avoided.

Using Extension Cords as Permanent Wiring

Extension cords are meant for temporary, occasional use - things like plugging in a fan or string lights for a party. They are not intended as permanent wiring solutions. However, some people try to use extension cords to wire things like lamps and appliances. This is an unsafe practice for a few reasons:

Trying to meet electrical needs with extension cords instead of permanent wiring is a definite fire hazard. It also often results in a tangled mess of cords strewn about the home - an additional trip and injury risk.

Using the Wrong Wire Gauge

Electrical wire comes in a variety of sizes known as wire gauges. The gauge must match the amperage rating of the circuit. For example, common household 15 amp circuits should use 14 gauge wire. If the wire is too small for the amperage, it can overheat and potentially start fires.

Some key points about wire gauge:

Overloading Circuits

Every electrical circuit has an amperage capacity designed to safely handle a certain electrical load. When too many devices are plugged into the circuit, this can overload it. Signs of an overloaded circuit include:

Overloading circuits can lead to insulation breakdown and fires. It's critical to be aware of your home's circuit capacities and avoid plugging too many devices into outlets.

Using the Wrong Wiring Techniques

Dangerous wiring mistakes include things like:

Proper technique is essential in joining and splicing wires securely while avoiding damage to insulation. All connections must be secure and fully enclosed within electrical boxes. Damage which exposes bare copper wiring must always be addressed - this risks significant hazards including fires, shocks, and electrocution.

Not Using Proper Safety Gear

Working with electrical wiring carries the risk of severe shock and injury without proper precautions:

Ignoring basic electrical safety practices dramatically increases the risk of severe injury and death due to shocks. Proper gear and shutting off the main breaker are absolute musts for those working on wiring.

Allowing Cables To Make Contact With Plumbing Lines

Electrical cables and plumbing lines should never touch or cross one another. This is because water is an excellent conductor of electricity. If power cables make contact with water pipes, the plumbing can become energized. Anyone touching a faucet, appliance, or other plumbing fixture could experience severe shock or electrocution.

Other risks include:

Maintaining safe separation between electrical and plumbing is a basic wiring precaution that should never be ignored during construction or rewiring projects.


Dangerous wiring leads to electrical fires, shocks, and electrocutions every year. Practicing proper electrical safety comes down to:

Following basic codes and best practices prevents electrical hazards. Homeowners should familiarize themselves with safe wiring and defer to licensed electricians when in doubt. Never take shortcuts when it comes to home electrical safety.