There are few aspects of home improvement that can be as fraught with danger as that of “Do-It-Yourself” electrical repairs. And while it may be a tempting prospect to forgo calling an electrician with the idea of saving a few bucks, then end results can be catastrophic. Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t DIY with electrical work.
It is no secret that one of the foremost concerns when working around electricity is the danger of being shocked. Electrical shock can be deadly at nearly any voltage level, and this is especially true when working with higher voltages.
In most residential homes the average voltage for lighting and power outlets is around 110 volts. That’s certainly enough to give you a nice jolt, but the voltage levels for certain appliances, such as ovens and dryers, can reach 240 volts – a deadly amount of current. It is for this reason that residential electricians go through years of training to learn how to safely work around electricity. Sure, you can always turn off the power at the breaker box, but all too often DIYers either neglect this step or switch off the incorrect breaker and this leads to a dangerous situation.
As with electrical shock, the danger of causing a fire due to faulty wiring is a real concern for DIYers. With so many different electrical components to work with, it can be confusing trying to solve wiring issues. All it takes is the placement of a single wire in the wrong spot and the chances of an electrical fire significantly increase. And unlike electrical shock, where the results will be immediate, electrical fire hazards can remain dormant for months. This can lead electrical DIYers into a false sense of security after completing a project, and then weeks later the wiring shorts out causing a fire. This is why you should always hire an experienced electrician when there are problems with the electrical system.
All electrical components in a home are required to pass inspection before they can be used, and this is an aspect of do-it-yourself electrical repair that is often overlooked. Not only does the failure to have an electrical repair inspected present a danger, but it can also lead to heavy fines. Some homeowners incorrectly assume that they can hide repairs behind walls and in the attic only to run into problems when they go to sell the home because it fails to meet the criteria to pass inspection. By hiring a professional electrician, you can rest assured that every electrical repair will pass inspection.
There are certain electrical components that are used specifically to keep homeowners safe and one of those is the ground fault interrupter or GFI. A GFI is a certain type of component, usually a switch or outlet, that has a built-in fault sensor which prevents users from getting shocked in the event of a faulty connection. Typically, ground fault interrupters are used in areas where the presence of moisture is an issue, such as in bathrooms and for outlets that are located outdoors. Unfortunately, most electrical DIYers are unfamiliar with the concept of the GFI and therefore they often neglect its use and instead install a standard outlet which presents an immediate danger to users. A certified electrician will be able to go through the home to determine all of the areas that will require the installation of a GFI outlet or switch.
Hidden Electrical Dangers
With all of the electrical components in a home, there are bound to be some hidden electrical connections, such as those leading to junction boxes, and these can present electrical shock hazards. One area of the home where there is an increased risk of being shocked by one of these hidden hazards is in the attic. However, as the idea of these hidden junction boxes is to keep the component out of sight, this also means that it will be more difficult to locate, which raises the chance of inadvertent electrical shock.
As is has been shown, there are a plethora of dangers that homeowners need to take into consideration when attempting DIY electrical repairs. A primary concern needs to be the increased potential for an electrical shock to occur when messing around with electrical components such as outlets and switches. In addition to electrical shock, there is a higher probability for a fire to occur when repairs are not completed correctly, especially if the result is faulty wiring. Furthermore, homeowners need to be aware of the various aspects of the electrical code, as this is necessary for the repairs to pass inspection. A failure to recognize this facet could lead to fines. It may also mean a decrease in the value of the home if these issues come up during an inspection. It is for these reasons that homeowners should always hire a trained electrician when in need of electrical repairs.