There are many parts of electrical installations that are simple, and practically anyone could do it. The problem lies in being able to do it safely, and this is where many DIYers fall short. Professionals are trained to safely install electrical fixtures. If you do it yourself, it may work, but it may also harm your property or family members. Here are a few common mistakes of DIY electricians. Some mistakes are made out of laziness, but many are simply people who don’t realize how dangerous it is to install electrical fixtures without proper training.
7 Common Mistakes of DIY Electricians
Installing a fixture with no electrical box:
Electrical boxes are integral to the safety of your home electrical system. They are meant to protect the areas where electrical connections are made. One of the most common places to get loose wiring connections is at plug-ins and light switches because they get used so much. It is not necessarily because of poor wiring by the professional or DIYer. It is often simply because of time and the expansion and contraction of the wires due to heat fluctuations. Once there is a bad connection, there could be a fire. Keeping wires in an electrical box keeps those wires from coming into contact with anything flammable.
Not using cable clamps:
Another mistake is not using cable clamps. Plastic boxes will have catches that prevent the wires from free-falling out of the box should they come disconnected. This also prevents them from putting tension on the wires that could cause a disconnection. In metal junction boxes, cable clamps must be used to accomplish the same thing.
Too short of wires:
If you cut the wires extending out of the box too short, you may have trouble making a good connection. This can be fixed by adding an extension, but don’t try to barely make a connection and leave your wires just barely holding on to your connection. It just won’t last.
Setting box too deep:
The primary purpose of electrical boxes is to keep connections away from flammable materials. If you set the box too deep, there will be a gap between the box and the drywall. This leaves connections exposed to dust or insulation, which could start a fire if it comes into contact with electricity.
You don’t want to have your wires moving inside your box, and they will move if the box and the fixture are not secured. Not only does this look like shoddy work, but it is dangerous. The loose receptacles will cause loose connections or disconnections.
Ground-fault current interrupters (GFCIs) are safety mechanisms set in place to detect difference between the hot and the neutral wires. If there is a difference, then the power is cut. Why? Because if there is a difference, there is power going somewhere it shouldn’t! This could means it is shocking a human being. GFCIs are meant to protect people around areas with water, such as kitchens and bathrooms, as standing water could cause a connection to be made between electricity at an outlet and a person…causing a potentially deadly electrocution. If you don’t have GFCIs near any areas with plumbing, they are worth installing. Plus, you probably aren’t up-to-code if you don’t have them.
Exposed wire connections:
Exposed wire connections are dangerous because they can shock people if they come into contact with them. They can also start fires if coming into contact with flammables. This is the whole reason for electrical boxes, wire nuts, and even electrical tape. Don’t leave your wires exposed!
Outlets not grounded:
If your outlets are not grounded, they may only have two holes at each plug. This is old wiring, and it is not safe. You want to have your electrical connections grounded because in case of faults where electricity will try to find its easiest path to ground. That path may be you if you don’t have a grounding wire connected to each outlet.
Make Sure You Know
Make sure you know what you are doing when you take on electrical fixture installation. It seems simple enough, and most of the actions are not necessarily complex. However, electricity is deadly, and there is a lot to know when it comes to safely installing any electrical features in a home.
The biggest reasons to hire a professional is not to make sure everything is up-to-code (although that is one good reason). The biggest reason to hire a professional is that they know how to keep electricity from being dangerous in your home.
Electricity is something most of us take for granted, and it typically isn’t a problem. That’s because there are electricians in this world. If you are taking on an electrical DIY project, please don’t make these mistakes, and please be safe.