Many homeowners strive to save as much money on home maintenance as possible by taking on some of the work themselves. While this might be reasonable for simple renovations like painting or tiling, electrical work is more dangerous than it might first appear. Here are some things to consider when taking on an electrical project, including when it’s best to call in a professional.
What electrical projects can you do yourself?
There are a few minor electrical projects you can take on for yourself that have a very low risk of injury.
It may not seem like an electrical project, but changing the lightbulbs in your home for more energy-efficient models can be good for both the environment and your utility bill.
New parents not only can but should invest in baby-proofing such as outlet covers and locks for appliances and circuit board cupboards.
Speaking of circuit boards, you can and should take on the project of appropriately and clearly labeling each breaker so that you know which part of your house it corresponds to. This can help you react more quickly in the event of an emergency.
Installing small electronics like televisions and computers is a task you can take on as long as you have the appropriate equipment and time.
Installing a ceiling fan is usually relatively simple, as most come with clear and detailed instructions.
Even though these repairs sound simple, it’s still worth it to take extra precautions. Always turn off electricity to a project while you’re working on it, test for current before beginning, and stop immediately if there are any signs of flowing current.
Why DIY electrical projects are dangerous
Though, as we’ve seen, there are some electrical projects that you can take on for yourself, the majority of the time, trying to tackle electrical concerns by yourself is at best a bad idea and at worst deadly. There are many major risks to taking on DIY electrical work, but the most obvious and dangerous are the chance of electrocution, fire hazards, and code violations.
To start with the least directly dangerous risk, completing electrical projects by yourself can mean it is difficult to tell whether or not the work you do is up to the standards for safety set by the National Electrical Code (NEC). If your DIY project isn’t up to code, you may face legal issues in the future, especially if you ever intend to sell your home, including hefty fines. You might also face issues with getting or keeping appropriate homeowner or renter’s insurance.
Moving into the realm of physical dangers, performing your own electrical work can lead to fire hazards. Faulty wiring, bad circuits, and other common mistakes can cause electrical fires which may even start inside your walls, making it difficult to catch them before serious damage occurs and you, your family, and your property are put at severe risk.
Even if there are no fires, working with electricity always presents the risk of electrocution, especially if you’ve never done it before. Considering that even a standard 120-volt circuit in a household is more than enough to kill a person, any minor mistake in electrical work presents the chance of serious injury or even death.
When to call an electrician
In general, if you aren’t sure how to do a project or don’t have the appropriate supplies to do so safely, you should call in an electrician to do it for you. Here are some more specific signs you need an electrician.
There are visible sparks coming from an outlet, appliance, wiring, or other part of your electrical system.
Humming, buzzing, or popping noises coming from wiring, appliances, or electronics.
Unusual smells, especially a burning smell.
If contact with an appliance or outlet causes tingling, warmth, or a small shock.
If your utility bill is unusually high without an obvious cause.
You should also call an electrician if your home is particularly old and/or you are looking to do larger electrical system renovations such as rewiring or adding outlets.
Though you may be saving money by doing electrical projects yourself, you may be putting your home and yourself in more danger in the long run. If you’re in any doubt about your ability to complete a project, or if it’s complicated enough to involve multiple circuits or rooms, it’s probably time to call a professional.
If you’re looking for electrical work in Baton Rouge, LA, consider calling Rhino Electric. Rhino Electric is comprised of experienced, knowledgeable, and qualified electricians capable of making any project, from socket and lighting installation to circuit board repair and replacement, successful, efficient, and up-to-code. You can contact them today for a quote to get your project started right.