Homeownership no doubt comes with an underlying sense of pride and achievement. As well it should! Homeownership is most likely the largest single financial decision that most Americans make in their lifetime and it oftentimes comes with a 15 or a 30-year commitment. Couple the sense of pride and ownership with the ability social media gives to share information and learn new things AND the DIY craze. Together it’s hard not to take homeownership a step further by actually doing your own maintenance around your home. Whether or not you are the DIY superstar or hire someone to change your own light bulbs there are some basic tips you should know that will help you define your limitations and know when to call a professional in.
Just to be clear, as a professional electrician myself and all the DIY things I have seen in my 20-year career from being in and out of over 3000 homes just like yours, I have never seen someone get hurt from a leaky water pipe or a crooked door frame. I have seen many homeowners either hurt themselves or put themselves in great danger with their DIY electric work. The point is to KNOW your limitations and never work on energized electric parts. Check out some of the tips I have for you all below:
Terminology the pro’s use:
Ground fault circuit interrupter. GFCI’s are found within 6’ of a sink or other various water supplied plumbing fixtures. Protects people from dangerous voltage mixed with standing water.
Breaker and Fuse
A breaker is a switch inside your circuit panel. A breaker is in place to protect the wiring in your home from an overloaded circuit. Circuit breakers are a modern replacement for “screw infuses” and can be reset and reused. A fuse is a “screw-in” device in your circuit panel. Like a breaker, a screw infuse is used to protect the wiring in your home from an overloaded circuit. And unlike a breaker is not reusable.
Photocell – A.K.A. Dusk To dawn sensor
Automatically turns outside light fixtures on once the sun goes down. A great solution for worry-free control of security lights and everyday wayfinding lighting.
Recessed Can lights – A.K.A. ‘Pot Lights’
Recessed lighting are the lights that get installed inside the cavity in your ceiling. Can lights are a great way to add different levels of lighting in rooms without overhead lighting. Can lights are considered an upgrade from builder grade lighting levels.
E.M.T – A.K.A. Electric metallic tubing
EMT is what the pros call the pipe they use to install their wiring in a home or office. It is used in the Chicago area mostly. There are other methods to get wiring into your home. This method is the most long-term solution that gives the most flexibility for adding or replacing wiring for future needs.
Things you should never do:
- Never attempt to work on live energized electrical parts.
- You should never use an extension cord on a permanent basis. Extension cords should be used for temporary means to supply power for a short period of time. Extension cords are the most notorious piece of equipment known to cause house fires in an electrical system.
- You should never connect a backup generator to your home’s electrical panel during a power outage unless you have the proper safety switches already installed by a licensed contractor. I saw this done by a client and the generator started on fire once ComEd restored power to the home.
- You should never buy any electrical piece of equipment that does not have a UL listing on it. (light bulbs, switches, cords, surge protectors, act.)
Things you can do to stay safe twice a year when you change your clocks for daylight savings time:
- Exercise your circuit breakers. Physically turn your circuit breakers from the ON position to the OFF position. Just like exercising your body, the more you do it the longer it will stay healthy. If you have screw infuses it is time to call a licensed electrician in!
- Exercise your GFCI outlets near water. On your GFCI receptacles, you will see a “Test” and “Reset” button. Simply push the “test” button. You will hear the click of the button popping out of position. Once you “test” the outlet push the “reset” button when you are done.
- Change the batteries in your smoke detectors, “Smoke detectors save lives” as we have all heard during fire prevention week every October since we have been young children. A $1.00 9v battery could be the piece that saves your life one day.
Things to look for that are signs you need a licensed electrician to make a repair or investigate further:
- Outlet or switch stopped working. This could mean either item is damaged, a wire has come loose or a less obvious issue that would require an expert to diagnose.
- Outlet or switch plate is discolored or charred. This could mean that the item is heating up beyond safe levels and should be checked by an expert.
- You detect an odor when a switch or outlet is being used. Often times a burning smell can be a secondary indicator that a wire, switch, outlet or breaker has failed. This results in heating up and burning when electricity is being used through that item.
- You hear a crackling or buzzing sound at outlets, switches or the breaker box
- Tripped breakers or blown fuses. This is a sign of a potentially overloaded circuit.
- Flickering or dimming lights out of the blue. This could be an indicator of many things including an issue from the power company all the way to the wrong type of light bulb or light switch being used. Please seek an expert. Lights flicker or dim when appliances are used. This could also be an indication of a wiring problem or an overloaded circuit.
I hope this helps with common electrical tips that homeowners should know. Keep in mind that the best tip I can give to be safe, especially around any exposed wiring. If you need electrical work or want to learn more about your home’s electrical system contact my team at Arnold Electrical Services today!