Performing electrical work yourself is rife with potential dangers, with some of the most common dangers being easy to avoid

When you work with electricity the level of safety that is required is a general indicator of the dangerous nature of the job, and yet every year many people believe that they are capable enough to install or alter their own source of electricity. It is true that there are a number of small jobs that can be performed by a handy man but it is strongly encouraged that a professional electrician be used for any electrical work that you may require around your home.

Below are some of the most common electrical mistakes that can occur when electrical jobs are completed at home by those who are unfamiliar with working with electricity.

Using the Wrong Sized Wires and Cables – electric wire comes in a variety of sizes, referred to as its ‘gauge’ and this dictates the appropriate usage of the wire and in what areas. Choosing the wrong wire for the electric current can possibly result in overheating or shorting out the circuit breaker or fuse. So overall, only use wire and devices that are rated for the proper amperage.

Outlets and Switches are fixed incorrectly – loose outlets and switches are a hazard when it comes to plugging in your appliances as it may result in the wires becoming loose from their terminals to cause arcing and overheating.

Faulty Electrical Boxes Connections – in some occasions people try to make electrical connections outside the electrical box, this should not happen as the reason for the electrical box is that it provide protection from outside elements or a metal or plastic box extension should be used . Additionally, electrical boxes should not be added to or overfilled with connections as this will cause short-circuiting or overheating.

Fuse Replacement – Breakers and fuses are the safety mechanisms that protect wire ampacity rating along with the electrical flow onto all connected appliances.  Quite often many people believe that if their fuse keeps blowing or tripping then they simply need to replace it with a bigger fuse or breaker. However this action is one of the leading causes of home fires and should never be done as this will only result in the wire being overheated. If your fuse keeps blowing or the breaker tripping then it is due to a fault in the circuit wiring which will have to be addressed.

Fuse Connections – still on fuses and breakers, you need to ensure that all connections within a fuse box are tight and in place correctly whenever you are replacing. Connections that are loose will often cause appliances and lights to flicker or cut short on occasion, with the worst case scenario being that circuits will overheat. Just remember to always turn off the breakers before inspecting.

Light Bulbs – a simple mistake that may not even seem like one when you do it. Putting the wrong wattage light bulb in the socket. Sounds mundane enough but when you put a 100-watt bulb into a 60-watt socket, yes you will have brighter light, but you will also have overheating of the bulb and the chance of it breaking or catching alight as the extra load of power will overload the socket.  This is a simple solution though, just look for the wattage limit next to the socket and only use the appropriate light bulbs.

Overloading Outlets and Drop Cords - Perhaps one of the most common and easiest electrical mistakes to make – overloading a paperboard or outlet. While many people cannot see a problem with this set up, thinking that since they make these power boards, why can’t we use all the available outlets? Well it comes down to the level of amps a circuit can handle, which is 20 amps. Therefore the problem arises when you plug in several appliances into this one outlet, when they really require its own circuit for safe use. This is especially true with bigger appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers or air conditioners. Overloading a circuit will cause the breaker to trip. The same can be said for drop cords, with electricians and industry professionals recommending only using a drop cord for an appliance if it has the ampacity. 

These are just a few of the electrical issues that can arise when working with electricity, so it is highly recommended that you get an electrician to perform any electrical work around your home to ensure maximum safety.