Are you preparing to do some DIY electrical work? We at Gainesville Gator Electricians have created a list of common mistakes that professional residential electricians know to avoid.
Professional residential electricians are called “professional” for a reason. A combination of experience and training leaves them with the ability to perform home electrical work efficiently and safely.
Did you know that in the United States there are an average of 48 consumer-product related electrocution fatalities a year? Nobody wants to become a statistic, and the best way to avoid that is understanding that if you’re going to attempt home electrical problem work in your own home, you should follow the advice of those who do this work for a living. That includes following advice on what you shouldn’t do, as well.
Here is a list of 7 things Gainesville Gator Electricians would never do in their own homes:
1. PROS NEVER CONFUSE GFCI AND AFCI
Knowing the difference between ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection and arc-fault circuit-interrupter protection is the definition of a safe and successful electrical installation job. Professional residential electricians understand that to mix these up is an invitation for disaster.
To briefly explain, GFCI protection is for the outdoors, areas where you could have moisture (bathrooms, garages, crawlspaces, etc) or areas where you use appliances. GFCIs work by monitoring the electrical flow between outlets and the things that are plugged into the outlet. If anything goes wrong, the GFCI will instantly cut the power – ending the risk of you potentially being electrically shocked.
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AFCI protection on the other hand, is used for general living areas (bedroom, living room, dining room, etc). The purpose? Fire protection. AFCIs are looking for potential arcs in your circuits and any conductor that is connected to your circuits. As soon as an arc is detected the AFCI shuts down the circuit to prevent a fire sparking. We at Gainesville Gator Electricians all agree that it is beyond essential that you ensure you know the difference between AFCI and GFCI. If you have any doubts at all, call.
2. PROS NEVER TAPE A CIRCUIT BREAKER INTO THE “ON” POSITION
Okay, we completely understand just how annoying it is when a circuit breaker trips every time you try to microwave something and having to walk down into the basement and reset it. But circuit breakers trip for a reason – to alert you of problems such as overloaded/short circuits (among other potentially even more complicated problems).
When your circuits trip it is simply a sign that the breakers are working correctly. By trying to outsmart it and forcing it into the “On” position with tape or otherwise, you risk serious potential problems – such as electrocution or house fire. Instead of doing this, take the safe route and find the source of the trip so that you can fix the problem.
The safest and most effective way of doing this? Check with a licensed electrician. The solution really might be something as adding circuits or simply having circuity repaired. If nothing else, the appliance itself may be the issue. So skip the dangerous tape jobs and get professional advice!
3. PROS NEVER USE AN EXTENSION CORD TO BE A INDEFINITE SOURCE OF POWER
Extension cords are fantastic for bringing power from point A to point B temporarily. But a professional residential electrician would never use an extension cord as simply a replacement to permanent wiring – for a freezer as an example – and you shouldn’t either. The condition of extension cords are widely known to worsen over time, potentially leading to fire or electrical shock.
The solution is simple – if there is a fixture you plan on powering permanently, install wiring that is permanent. Use extension cords only for what they were designed to do, such as powering holiday lights and electric lawn care tools.
4. PROS NEVER LEAVE THE POWER TURNED ON WHILE WORKING WITH WIRES
Whether it’s from a simple mistake or due to a lack of education on the topic, you could find yourself in serious trouble if you do this as the risk of electrocution is high. Professional residential electricians absolutely never leave the power on while they work in a home on electrical systems of any sort.
Gainesville Gator Electricians always make sure that the power is completely shut off before connecting or disconnecting any wires.
However this does not mean you have to shut down the power to your entire home, simply that you need to turn off the breakers that match the circuits that you find yourself working on.
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Ideally you already have your circuit breakers labelled so that you know which ones that you need to turn off. If this isn’t the case, you can determine this yourself by flipping the breakers off and on to observe where the power goes. If you aren’t comfortable doing this however, you can always hire a licensed electrician to do this for you safely.
5. PROS NEVER USE THE WRONG TOOLS FOR THEIR JOB
If you don’t have the right tools for the electrical job you plan on doing, then either get the right tools or do not proceed at all. Professionals would never even attempt electrical work with tools that aren’t designed specifically for electrical work.
You would not use pliers to hammer a nail, and the same applies in electrical work.
We at Gainesville Gator Electricians recommend planning out your project in advance and creating a list of the potential tools you will need for the job. We also recommend to spend as much as you can afford on the tools, as this not only impacts the outcome of your job but affects the longevity of your tools in the long run.
6. PROS NEVER FAIL TO REPLACE OUTDATED OR BROKEN SWITCHES AND OUTLETS
Have a loose electrical outlet? You may be tempted to improvise in some way to make it stay put. Do not do this, replace it instead. When an electrical outlet is loose, it can disrupt the electrical current and cause a fire. This also applies to light switches. Don’t be fooled by the fact that it may still work, it needs to be replaced.
7. PROS NEVER FAIL TO FOLLOW CODE
Professional residential electricians are very aware of the National Electrical Code, and this is for a reason. No licensed electrician would ever try to save time, money or trouble by taking code-related shortcuts. There are 2 main reasons for this. The first is of course, safety.
The other reason, of which many don’t even realize is for uniformity. Uniform code allows electricians to always be aware and have an understanding of the work that was done before them. This standardization is required so that a licensed electrician can recognize when something is/has been done wrong.
If you don’t know the code for your electrical job, it’s not a problem. A professional residential electrician can help you and point you in the right direction. If you have a long list of DIY electrical projects you plan on doing, we recommend investing in a code handbook so that you can look up whatever info you need, as well as ensuring you are doing the job according to the code.
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