May is National Electrical Safety month south of the border. It might not be an official Canadian event, but since most home renovations involve some electrical work, electrical safety is always a top priority.
I don’t do my own electrical work. And neither should you or anyone else who isn’t an electrician. The worst renovation nightmares I’ve seen involve bad electrical work. Why? Because it endangers lives and your home’s safety. Bad wiring jobs can lead to overloaded circuits, buried junctions boxes, unsafe connections—to name a few—which can all lead to an electrical fire.
MikeHolmes-Image-02I know some contractors and handymen offer to “do the electrical” as part of the job—to help homeowners save some money. But they usually save money by cutting corners, like not getting the proper permit. Is it worth the risk to save a few dollars? Absolutely not.
For any renovation, all electrical work must be done right before the drywall goes up. If not, dangerous mistakes can be hidden in your walls—potential disasters just waiting to happen.
And remember to think ahead. What will you need in the future? Do you have enough outlets? Are they located where you need them? This is especially important when it comes to kitchen renovations. Or let’s say you want a hot tub. You might not be able to afford it now, but now’s the time to plan for it. The average home today needs at least 100 amps. But you might want to upgrade to 200 amps, depending on your plans.
A complete overhaul of your home’s wiring is expensive. But sometimes all you need are a few simple upgrades–usually minimum code requirements, like installing ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) near water sources and arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCI) in bedrooms.
GFCIs should always be installed in outdoor outlets, bathrooms, kitchens, crawl spaces and unfinished basements. They’re inexpensive and could save your life.
MikeHolmes-Image-03Let me give you scenario: A bare wire inside an appliance touches the metal case. The case is now charged with electricity. If you touch the appliance with one hand and a grounded metal object, like a water faucet, with your other hand you will get a bad shock—it can even kill you. But if the appliance is plugged into a GFCI outlet, the GFCI will sense the change in current and shut the power off.
Another thing to keep in mind is to never alter plugs to make them fit into an outlet. It’s a huge safety hazard. If they don’t fit it’s for a reason. If you can’t plug an appliance into an outlet, the outlet is probably outdated. Always have a qualified electrician replace your outlets.
It takes years of training to become a licensed electrician. Why would you trust anyone who doesn’t know what they’re doing? Or someone who knows just enough to mess it up? If you need electrical work done, always call a licensed professional—and get a permit! No exceptions. Because when you make it right, you make it safe.