Do-It-Yourself Electrical Safety Tips

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How to be a Weekend Warrior Without Ending Up in the ER

Tackling do-it-yourself projects is a time-honored tradition that sends homeowners and renters into their garages and hobby rooms on weekends. Plumbing repairs, window installations and electrical upgrades are among the tasks that these folks undertake. If you’re one of these weekend warriors who are planning to work on a home’s electrical system this week, we have some DIY electrical safety tips that can mean the difference between success and a stay at the local emergency room.

Do the Basic Safety Checks

If your project involves repairs to any appliances, unplug them before you get started. When the project involves anything powered by electricity that cannot simply be unplugged, turn off the power to that portion of the home at the breaker panel. Just to be sure that there is no electricity going to the items you’re working with, check the wires for current. This seems like a lot of precautions, but you’d be surprised how many weekend warriors avoided a nasty surprise just by taking this extra step.

Use the Right Tools for the Job

Don’t MacGyver it. If your tools no longer have the insulated grips that they came with, wrapping them with duct tape won’t make up for it. Invest in safe tools for the jobs you plan to tackle. By the way, there is no shame in wearing safety goggles. Sure, the “cool” people on TV don’t wear them, but remember that most of those scenes are staged for entertainment.

Develop a Safety IQ

  • Extension cords. They’re useful but can be hazardous when used incorrectly. For example, did you know that running these cords under carpeting, rugs or similar high-traffic areas could backfire? The foot traffic can damage the cord’s insulation, and if the covering is flammable it could present a fire hazard.
  • Outlets and switches. Do they feel warm to the touch? Unless it’s the middle of summer and warm inside your home, this could spell trouble. Combined with flickering lights that dim whenever you turn on an appliance, or circuits that trip repeatedly, the odds are good that you’ve got a wiring problem.
  • Water. Electricity and water don’t mix. If you’re standing in water or even on a damp floor while working on electrical components, you might be placing yourself in serious danger. Move your project to a dry area.

Know When it’s Time to Call a Professional

Professional electricians undergo rigorous training to ensure that your electrical wiring is safe, up to code and won’t hurt them or you. While it is true that there are plenty of do-it-yourself projects a weekend warrior might tackle, some electrical tasks may be above your pay grade. Most folks can replace a receptacle, circuit breaker or light fixture. There are fewer who feel comfortable adding a new receptacle, circuit or electrical panel.

The experts at the Electrical Safety Foundation International want you to consider that these tasks usually also call for electrical permits, which makes them something it might be best to leave to the pros. When you are confident that a project is right up your alley, Rocky’s Ace Hardware has the safety tools and equipment you need to get started. Check out our inventory today!


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