Do you worry about making electrical mistakes in your home? You’re not alone. But the good news is there are easy steps you can take to reduce the risk of making costly or even dangerous wiring errors.
In this blog, you’ll find out the common mistakes home and hobby electricians make–and learn how to avoid them:
Overloading Electrical Outlets and Circuits
Overloading your electrical outlets or circuits is one of the most common electrical mistakes that can lead to dangerous and costly outcomes. An overloaded outlet or circuit can result in a blown fuse, an electric shock, fire hazard, and damage to your appliances.
To avoid overloading electrical outlets, you should never plug too many cords into an outlet, use extension cords for more than a short-term fix and make sure your outlets are the right voltage for the appliance you’re using.
When it comes to circuits, be aware of how much power different appliances require and make sure not to exceed the load. As a rule of thumb, don’t plug in more than two large appliances on a single circuit at one time and don’t overload any of your wall outlet circuits with too many plugs – this can cause circuits to overload and potentially cause a fire.
For help determining how much power certain appliances require or assistance wiring up your home securely, consider hiring an experienced electrician who knows all relevant safety codes.
Not Grounding Electrical Devices Properly
Grounding provides an extra layer of protection for you and your home by rerouting electricity away from you in case of an electrical malfunction. Whenever possible, any electrical appliance or device should be plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. These outlets are designed to shut off power when it senses that electricity is flowing through something other than the intended path – a common cause of electrical shock.
Grounding should also be used in wiring an outdoor power outlet, as this will significantly reduce the risk of electric shock or fire due to moisture and bad weather conditions. Before attempting any kind of electrical work in your home, it’s important to understand the basic principles related to grounding as well as local building codes, so be sure to check with your local government for more information about what is expected for your area. Failing to properly ground electrical devices can result in potentially dangerous situations such as:
- Electric shock
- Property damage from surges and shorts
Using the Wrong Light Bulbs
When choosing light bulbs for your home, make sure to select the correct wattage and bulb type for your fixtures. Lights that are too bright may cause glare on walls or ceiling fittings and may be uncomfortable to look at. Selecting a wattage bulb that is too low may not provide enough illumination in the space and will be a waste of energy.
Additionally, the wrong type of light bulb such as incandescent bulbs put in fixtures designed for compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or LED bulbs, may cause an electrical fire due to excessive heat caused by improper fitting of the bulb.
All types of lights are very efficient if used properly and can save you money in energy costs over time. Therefore, it’s important to match up fixtures with the correct light bulbs.
Installing Electrical Devices in Unsafe Locations
When installing electrical devices in your home, such as outlets and light switches, it is important to take proper precautions to avoid creating an unsafe electrical environment. Poorly installed outlets and switches can lead to fires, shocks, and other serious accidents.
Some of the most common electrical mistakes include installing outlets in damp or wet areas, such as:
- Near sinks
- In bathrooms
- Outside near gutters
- In garages or basements where water may accumulate
These areas can cause corrosion or water damage to the wiring which can create a dangerous situation. Additionally, it is important not to place an outlet too close to a heat source, like a heating vent or furnace – this could end up melting the insulation on the wiring and presenting a fire risk. It is also essential not to install an outlet above countertops like kitchen countertops – you should also avoid putting them too close to sinks or other high use sinks that might cause water damage over time.
Finding suitable locations in each room will ensure your home’s electrical system is secure and safe for daily use.
Neglecting Regular Electrical Maintenance
Structural components, wiring, and other electrical systems should all be inspected regularly to ensure they meet safety standards. Failure to do so could result in dangerous and/or costly problems like faulty wiring, outdated switches, or improper voltage. To avoid potential hazards from neglected electrical maintenance, homeowners are encouraged to carry out regular checks and replacements when needed.
Ideally, this maintenance should be done annually or as instructed by a certified electrician. Electrical maintenance should include:
- Inspecting all wiring for broken insulation or bare wires;
- Checking receptacles for poor connections;
- Testing all smoke detectors (with fresh batteries);
- Ensuring ground fault circuit interrupters function properly;
- Testing surge protectors; and
- Inspecting circuit breakers for corrosion and/or minor damage such as arcing or burning.
Regular electrical maintenance is an essential part of being a responsible homeowner, as it helps to prevent unnecessary accidents and costly repairs or replacements down the road.
Not Hiring a Licensed Electrician for Electrical Work
Whether you’re doing a remodel or simply an upgrade to your electrical system, it is essential to hire a licensed electrician for any work that involves electricity. While there are “do-it-yourself” kits and blogs on how to complete electrical projects, attempting a project that is outside of your skill level can be risky.
A professional electrician will ensure that the outlet meets local and national safety codes, as well as ensure the installations meet proper electrical wiring and total circuit breaker requirements. Hiring a professional also protects you from potential personal injury or property damage due to improper installation. It is important to check references when hiring any contractor and be sure they are properly licensed, insured, and bonded.
Additionally, some local code requirements may mandate having all changes inspected by a professional inspector prior to being approved for use. An unlicensed electrician won’t have the expertise or the know-how to help guide you through these steps in order to achieve electrical code compliance in your home. It’s always better to err on the side of caution when it comes to electrical work; leave this task only up to trusted professionals with significant experience in this field of work.
Connecting Wires Incorrectly
Connecting wires incorrectly is one of the most common home electrical mistakes you don’t want to make. Unsafe wiring connections can lead to a variety of dangers, such as fires and electrocution.
When connecting wires, be sure the terminals have been removed and all the wires are connected correctly. Make sure the proper colors of wire and size work together – black is hot, white is neutral and green indicates grounding. You should also ensure you are connecting the correct size of wire from breaker box to your device: 12/2 for 20 amps and 14/2 for 15amps.
In addition, check for bare wires that may be exposed in between connections or after screwing down a terminal before turning on power by using a voltage tester to ensure safety before touching any wires or devices.
Ignoring Warning Signs of Electrical Problems
Electrical issues should never be taken lightly, especially in the home. Neglecting to address even minor problems can be dangerous and costly. It is important to recognize the warning signs of more serious electrical problems as soon as possible, so you can take preventative measures to keep your family and home safe.
Common warning signs include:
- Developing shocks when touching electrical components or appliances
- Flickering or dimming lights
- Burnt marks on plugs, outlets or wiring
- Warm plates or wall switch covers
- Circuit breakers that trip frequently
- Sparks from outlets when plugs are removed
If any of these issues occur, it is recommended that you immediately turn off any electrical power supplying the component(s) in question before attempting further investigation; this will help reduce the risk of danger before an experienced electrician is contacted to fix the problem.
In conclusion, proper knowledge and understanding of home electrical systems is essential for the safety and well-being of both the homeowner and the property. Taking some time to assess your walls, plugs, cords, and other components of your electrical system is one of the most important steps you can take to secure a safe environment.
Not all electrical problems require an electrician – some can be solved with some basic maintenance. However, if any critical components require attention it may be necessary to contact a professional electrician in order to ensure both your safety and compliance with local building codes.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What are some common home electrical mistakes?
Some common electrical mistakes that homeowners make include overloading outlets, using the wrong wattage light bulbs, and not properly grounding appliances.
2. Why is overloading outlets dangerous?
Overloading outlets can cause the wiring to overheat and potentially cause a fire. It can also damage your appliances and electronics.
3. Can I use any wattage light bulb in my fixtures?
No, it’s important to use the correct wattage light bulb for your fixtures. Using bulbs with a higher wattage than recommended can cause the fixture to overheat and become a fire hazard.
4. How do I properly ground my appliances?
Most appliances come with a grounding wire or plug that should be connected to a grounded outlet. If you’re not sure if your outlets are properly grounded, you can hire an electrician to check.
5. Is it safe to work on electrical wiring myself?
No, it’s not safe for homeowners to work on electrical wiring themselves. This should always be done by a licensed electrician to avoid the risk of electrocution and fires.
6. What should I do if I notice a burning smell or hear crackling sounds from my outlets?
If you notice any unusual smells or sounds coming from your outlets, immediately turn off the power and call a licensed electrician to evaluate the problem.