Electrical work and DIY don’t always mix. It’s one area of home improvement with severe repercussions if things go awry. Calling a professional in Coeur d’Alene is best when an electrical issue arises. If you choose to tackle it yourself, be sure you have all the info and tools to get the job done right.
At DNA Electric, we work with families across town with a variety of electrical issues. We get questions about household electrical all the time. While we don’t condone DIY electric jobs, we do encourage getting the facts. Here are some things you should know when working with your home’s electric system.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Outlets
Ever notice old outlets with only two holes for electrical appliances? Those outlets aren’t properly grounded. That means if there’s an electrical surge, it could short your power system or worse, start an electrical fire.
GFCI outlets are grounded. They have three holes for three-pronged electrical devices, and they’re designed to prevent surges. If you’re wiring a new home or rewiring an old home, these are the best outlets to have installed.
Inside your walls are hundreds of tiny wires and cables. They may seem small, but over time they weigh on the outlets and boxes they connect to. Cable clamps or staples keep cables separate and secure.
You might have to buy cable clamps, but many boxes include them. As new cables are added to a box, be sure to clamp them in place.
Circuit Breakers and Safety Switches
When deciding on electrical safety tools, don’t stop at the circuit breaker. Circuit breakers literally break the circuit of electricity as it courses through your home. It’s meant to protect your home wiring and electric system from damage, sparks, or worse.
Safety switches, on the other hand, offer an added element of protection. They protect you from a potential shock if there’s a glitch or surge of electricity.
As you install your protective system, it helps to know which circuit breaker is which. There are three main types:
- Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter
- Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter
Chat with an electrician as you determine the best fit for your home and appliances.
It’s tempting to cut wires as short as possible to ensure connections are snug. Unfortunately, if wires are too tight, there’s no room to relax as your home ages and temperatures change. Wire connections should have a slight amount of wiggle room.
If you ever need to change a fixture or outlet, short wires are tough to wrangle back into place. You might think you’re proactively saving time and effort by shortening wires later. You could be causing a variety of future rewiring situations when the short wires need to be lengthened.
If you notice wires are too short to install a new outlet or light fixture, don’t try to add more length. Contact a professional to safely remedy the situation.
Outdoor Outlet Covers
Outdoor outlets need something called an “in-use” cover if you plan to leave extension cords plugged in. A flat cover is fine during the off-season when the risk of water entering the outlet is low. In the winter, when you plug in holiday lights or in the summer, when you plug in patio lights, an “in use” cover is best.
This cover is weather and tamper-proof and made of high-quality polycarbonate. This is an important component for any outdoor electrical setup.
Proper Sized Electric Boxes
Just as it’s dangerous to plug too many plugs into an outlet, it’s dangerous to have too many wires jammed in an electrical box. Too much of any electrical component is fuel for overheating, power surges, and potential fires. In the U.S., the National Electrical Code dictates the right box size for wires used.
- For any ground wires, score 1
- For every how or neutral wire in a box, score 1
- For every cable clamp score 1
- For any device except light fixtures, score 2
14-gauge wires are multiplied by 2 and 23-gauge by 2.25. The total tells you in cubic inches the right box to install.
Contact DNA Electric to Learn More
If you live in Coeur d’Alene and want more information on DIY electrical help, DNA Electric is here for you. We believe in the importance of properly educating our clients to enhance electric safety at home. Give us a call to talk to an experienced professional today.