Don’t mess with your panel.
Unless you are a licensed electrician, you should not be altering your own electrical panel. There are thousands of YouTube videos telling people how to upgrade their panel with surge protectors and additional circuit breakers. Just don’t do it. Not only is it dangerous, but it could cause a lot of other problems if not done correctly. Don’t do anything that resembles a MacGyver episode either. Electrical taping your breaker down in an attempt to prevent it from tripping is not okay. The way an electrical panel works is meant, in part, to safely deliver electricity to your home. If you go in and alter things without professional knowledge, there are many life-threatening things that can go wrong.
Don’t ignore signs of damage.
If you have flickering lights, or you have a scorched outlet, something is wrong with the electricity in your house. Don’t ignore it! It’s terrible when a house catches fire due to electrical shortages, but it’s even worse when the homeowner knew something was wrong. Call an electrician if you notice anything faulty about your electrical system, and he or she will give you a diagnosis.
Don’t cut corners.
We cannot stop every DIY project, nor would we want to. If you have the right knowledge and know your limits, some things can be done properly without a professional. However, if you are a corner-cutter, drop your tools now. Trying to save money or materials at the expense of quality work is an effort that results in unsafe conditions. You’ll eventually have to call an electrician anyway if this is your work ethic, so just get it over with already.
Use quality tools.
Especially if it is a one-time job, buying cheap tools can be tempting. However, insulated tools will save your life should you come into contact with a live wire, and not all insulation is created equal. Buy certified tools when working with electricity. Tools that say VDE or ASTM F1505 certified are good examples of what to look for.
Install GFCI outlets near water sources.
Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are designed to shut off for safety when sensing a current imbalance. They are often found near water sources because water is a good conductor of electricity. Water + Human + Electricity can create a clear path to a ground that may cause electric shock to be deadly, so having a safety shutoff saves lives.
Don’t rely on color.
Generally speaking, an outlet will have three wires. The black one is hot, the white one is neutral, and the copper one is the ground. Don’t rely on this to be true. Use a voltage tester to make sure you’re not working with live wire. Your electrical work may have been done by a novice, and there are probably some other equally bad excuses.
Power lines are not insulated.
Power lines are live and non-insulated. Why do you need to know this? Just in case. We cannot predict why you would be exposed to the danger of the lines, but it is a good thing to know. Even areas that are insulated due to risk of touching homes have insulation that degrades over time. Stay clear of power lines at all costs.
We don’t know how to program your smart device.
This is a difficult one because most electricians want to help, and if they have time, they’ll do odd jobs or spend extra time making sure your home is up to par. That doesn’t mean we are computer programmers, and we don’t offer computer or software support. Internet of Things (IoT) technology is creating a demand for this, but the supply won’t usually be found in your electrician. Now, if we do know how to hook up a smart device, we’ll definitely offer a helping hand. Just remember that this is not our specialty, and technology changes so quickly we may have no idea what you are working with.
Some things use power when not in use.
There are all sorts of horror movies where demons travel through electricity, and the entire home must be unplugged to avoid contact. Obviously, this is fiction, but you may think some of your devices are little demons when you find out they sap power even when not in use. Phone chargers are a big culprit.
Take our recommendations seriously.
Licensed electricians have the knowledge to complete a job safely, and our recommendations are not some sly attempt to earn money fraudulently. If we recommend you upgrade your wiring or other home electrical components, take this recommendation seriously. Not only are you putting yourself at risk for larger problems down the road, but you are putting everyone who visits your home in danger of shock, fire, or multiple other hazards that can put people in harm’s way. We may give you options of less-expensive ways to fix a problem, but don’t think that not fixing the problem is an option. Discuss any barriers you have to fixing a problem with your electrician and find out if they have any solutions.