Tips For Working Safely With Electricity Around The Home

Posted on: 17 August 2016

If you're a homeowner, then you're likely interested in saving time and money by doing small DIY projects around the house. Some people stop at working with anything electrical because they don't understand it and are anxious about getting hurt. Once you know the basics, you can work safely with electricity in your house like any other area that needs attention. Here are some basic tips to help you to do those DIY electrical projects at home.

Always Make Sure the Electricity is Off

The electrical circuit panel in your home is the hub for all power that comes into your house. Every electrical outlet and switch is controlled from this point. Before working on any electrical projects, turn off the breaker switch associated with the outlet or switch at the circuit panel.

However, don't trust the labels on the circuit panel to tell you what is being controlled by a particular circuit breaker. For example, you may turn off a breaker marked "Master Bedroom" only to discover that an outlet on one wall is controlled by the breaker for the next room. To be sure that you're safe, buy an inexpensive circuit tester to test outlets and switches before you work on them. Some testers have a series of lights to tell you if there is still power going to the device while others have a small gauge to tell you if the outlet or switch is still on.

Understanding Electrical Standards

Building codes for electrical work were established for consistency and safety. Any switch or outlet you work with should have at least three wires going to it. These wires are the following:

  • Black - This is the "Hot" wire through which the electricity initially flows.
  • White - This is the "Common" wire which completes the electrical circuit with the black wire.
  • Green or solid copper - This is the ground wire and is used to prevent an electrical shock from the outlet or switch.

If you encounter an outlet or switch that does use wires of these colors, have an electrical services contractor come to your home and sort out the wiring before working on it. If working with old two-prong outlets without a ground wire or a switch with only black and white wires, have the electrician put in a ground wire for safety.

Electrical Projects to Leave to the Professionals

While this basic knowledge will let you work with most electrical outlets and switches in your home, there are special cases where you should always have an electrician do the work. These include the following:

  • High voltage devices - Large appliances that draw a lot of power, such as ovens and dryers, use special outlets and twice the power from the circuit panel than other electrical items in the house. While you can also work with them safely if the power is off, these devices require special outlets that can be confusing to work with.
  • Damp locations - Outlets and switches located in basements, outdoors and in other areas where it can become damp should be left to an electrician. Water increases the risk of getting a shock.

For more information or advice, contact a business such as Cole Electric Inc.

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