Tip Of The Week #71: Electrical Home Maintenance

Remodeling and updating often requires changes to the electrical system.  Some changes are easy and not prohibited by local ordinances.  DIYers can often do these changes provided that they research the project and take the necessary safety precautions.  This is especially true when dealing with electrical wiring.  Homes that are completely finish may require more than just a sensor to find where the wires are hidden in the walls.  Older homes can hide old wiring even gas lines for lighting.  And you can never be sure if the previous changes to the system met code or are safe.  MarkdownMom has found lamp cords used to extend outlets for light fixtures, junction boxes hidden in the wall, and wiring that did not follow any known schematic plan.

1.   Major renovations are those that require deconstruction to the bare walls unless you have a current electrical plan with your home plans  that is fully updated and includes any recent renovations.

2.    Outfit yourself with the necessary tools before starting any project.  Even replacing a regular outlet with a GFI can hold dangers.  Testers that will indicate if the outlet is properly grounded or “live” are a must.

3.  When in doubt about the electrical layout, MarkdownMom always shuts down the entire system at the box to insure that you won’t run into an unknown “live” wire.  It’s important to have adequateht  lighting, so be sure to have flashlights available.  A must have  light MarkdownMom prefers is one that has an elastic band and is worn on your head leaving your hands free to do the work.

4.  Take as many CEE courses offered from technical schools or  DIY stores and suppliers and  adult learning classes offered by the public schools.  Don’t be afraid to ask questions.  Read references books.  Old reference books can give you an idea of what you may encounter when renovating vintage properties.

5.  Draw up a plan and run it by your local expert at the hardware store or home supply store or if you’re lucky a friend with extensive knowledge and experience.

5.  Call in professionals as dictated by your local ordinances and get necessary building permits if required.  MarkdownMom views herself as a somewhat savvy diyer, but would not attempt to do projects that require dealing with the major power line coming into a dwelling and this includes providing power to a new building,  replacing an electrical box with a larger one, carrying electricity to an unattached garage or out-building, even to using 240/30A or 240/40A wire commonly used for electrical dryers and stoves.   And when necessary get the building inspector to sign-off on any of your work.

MDM Says:  Remember Safety Is Always  #1  In Cost Savings!

2 Replies to “Tip Of The Week #71: Electrical Home Maintenance”

  1. Loss of life and property are too often the result of unqualified persons attempting to perform electrical work. Too many people approach the tasks with cavalier attitudes after reading articles such as yours which tend to encourage people with a DIY proclivity to tackle electrical installations or maintenance with little practical or technical knowledge -which is dangerous -for the author and the reader.
    You are not alone in the encouragement of unqualified people to attempt electrical installations or modifications. Lowe’s and Home Depot provide routine encouragement. By now, they each have blood on their hands.
    Electrical installations in the U.S. are governed by the National Electrical Code. Unless one has extensive knowledge of the code and training in wiring methods, one has no business attempting such tasks, nor writing about them.
    Ms. Markdown, there are plenty of places to “save money.” Performing one’s own electrical installations or modifications is not one of them.

    1. Dear Dave: Spoken like a true licensed professional electrician. If you had fully read the post before making a blanket criticism, you would have found several caveats regarding precautions and the necessity of a more than rudimentary working knowledge of electricity. Further, MarkdownMom has hired professional electricians and on one job, her work passed the building inspection and the “professionals” work did not. Not everyone can afford a $70/hr.(minimum) electrician. It comes down to educating yourself properly, doing what you feel you can do comfortably and safely, and calling in the experts when needed. Having professional inspectors sign-off on any major job, whether done by a knowledgeable amateur or a professional electrician, is a must as stated in the post.

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