4 Essential DIY Electrical Safety Tips

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While you should always leave large electrical projects to professional electricians, there are a few simple electrical fixes that many homeowners like to tackle on their own. However, working with home wiring can be one of the most dangerous DIY projects to take on. If you do not have experience doing electrical repairs and you are looking to attempt your first repair, here are four essential safety tips you should know.

Always Shut Off the Breaker to Your Circuit

The number one thing that you can do to keep yourself safe when working with wiring is turning off the breaker to the circuit you are working on. If you are repairing a wall outlet that is still delivering electricity, you can test to make sure you have shut off the right breaker by leaving a lamp connected to the outlet and flip breakers until the lamp shuts off. Have a helper watch the lamp for you if the outlet is in another room.

After you have shut off the right breaker, you should tape down the breaker or use a breaker toggle guard as an extra precaution to make sure it is not accidentally turned back on while you are working on the circuit. If your breakers are not labeled, it is a good idea to label each of them as you go while you are looking for the one that sends power to the circuit you are working on.

Test All Wires With a Voltage Tester First

Even if you have shut off and taped down the right breaker, you can never be too sure that the wires you are working on do not have power. A voltage tester can save your life in situations where you thought that the wires were dead but they were actually live.

For the safest possible method of checking wires for power, you should invest in a non-contact voltage tester. Instead of touching the nose of the tester to a wire, you simply have to hold the tester within one to two inches of the wire to read its voltage. This greatly reduces the chance that electricity will be transferred through a faulty voltage tester and into you.

Use a Cable Detector Before Drilling

Any time you are drilling into a wall or putting nails or screws into a wall, there is a risk of puncturing a live cable. For this reason, a cable detector should be another essential part of your DIY electrical toolkit. A cable detector allows you to locate cables behind the wall by simply holding the device against the wall, instead of finding them the hard way when you start drilling.

Make Sure You're Insulated

You will be much more protected from injury if your clothes, tools, and the surface you are working on has a high electrical resistance. To reduce your electrical conductivity, you should use tools with insulated rubber handles, wear rubber-soled shoes, and remove all metallic jewelry and personal electronics from your person. Making sure you are completely dry before beginning an electrical project will also help to keep you safe, so dry off thoroughly and remove any wet clothing if you have just come in from the rain.

Sometimes it is impossible to avoid working on an outlet or light fixture in an area that is somewhat damp. If you are working on a wet floor or wet ground, put down a rubber mat and stand on it while you are doing the repair. This will further protect you from the high conductivity of the water you are standing in.

Many simple electrical repairs can be accomplished by any homeowner with the right research and tools. Learn these safety guidelines so that you can minimize the risk of injury when working on wiring in your home.

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3 April 2015

Electricity: Designs, Troubleshooting and Hacks for Novices

Hi, my name is Joan, and I am glad you found my blog. This blog is for new homeowners, novices to the world of DIY and anyone who has a general question about electrical work. In this blog, I am going to include posts on how to spot issues, how to hack or troubleshoot challenges and even how to design the electrical systems for a new home or office. I am also going to include posts on when to call for professional help and how to choose an electrician. I hope that you enjoy reading and that these posts "electrify" you figuratively, but definitely not literally. Thanks for stopping by!