Did you know there are more than 30,000 serious shock injuries in the United States every year?
Here’s an even more sobering thought: Every year, over 2,600 people die in home fires.
One of the main causes of home fires and shock accidents is faulty electrical work. While wires age and electricians occasionally make a mistake, the vast majority of these accidents occur because of DIY electrical wiring attempts.
Don’t get us wrong–there are lots of great DIY home improvement projects you can tackle, but electrical work isn’t one of them.
In this post, we’ll provide a rundown of why home electrical work is best left to professionals.
Why DIY Electrical Wiring Is a Bad Idea
Yes, you can get a lot of good home repair information from HGTV and YouTube. They might even claim that home electrical work is easy and perfectly safe as long as you follow certain steps.
Before you buy into that idea, consider five reasons why DIY electrical work can go terribly wrong.
1. Fire Hazard
As mentioned at the outset, thousands of people die every year in home fires.
Even if electrical wiring appears simple on the surface, the reality is anything but. All it takes is accidentally placing one wire in the wrong place or hooking it up to the wrong connection.
If you’re lucky, you’ll cause sparks, shorts, or overloading the circuit. If you’re not so lucky, you could inadvertently set your home on fire.
The real danger lies in the fact that most faulty electrical work isn’t obvious right away. You may finish a DIY project and everything seems fine for weeks, but there could be a hidden danger lurking behind that wall that could spark a fire at any moment.
Is it really worth putting your family, your home, and your neighborhood at risk to try to save a few dollars? Even if you have an innate sense of home repairs and how things work, you don’t have the same knowledge and experience as a licensed electrician.
2. Electrical Shock
If you bang your thumb with a hammer, you might have a nasty bruise–but you’ll recover. If you electrocute yourself while attempting DIY electrical wiring, you might not be as fortunate.
Most of us have gotten minor shocks and been fine. Movies love to portray an unsuspecting husband working around the house and getting “zapped” as comic relief.
But the reality isn’t as comical. The truth is that it takes as little as 42 volts (or 2 seconds of 0.1 amps) to kill a human.
Now consider that the lighting and power outlets in most homes in the US run at 110 volts. Other appliances, such as clothes dryers and ovens, can run at up to 240 volts.
All it takes is touching the wrong wires or switching off the wrong breaker to have a major medical emergency–or worse. Are your DIY efforts worth (literally) risking your life?
3. Code or Permit Violations
Here’s another factor that’s not as obvious but just as important–especially when it comes to saving money.
- Did you know that certain home upgrades or repairs require a permit before you can begin work?
- Did you know that any electrical components in your house are required by law to pass inspection before you can use them?
- Do you understand the specific laws and codes of electrical wiring in your area?
Unless you were a licensed electrician in a past life, chances are you don’t.
Whether you’re making home improvements for your own comfort or you’re hoping to place your house on the market, electrical work is one area where you can’t cut corners.
Shoddy electrical work behind a wall won’t stay hidden forever. If you’ve used the wrong fixtures of your wiring isn’t up to par, the inspector will find it and it will come back to bite you in the end.
One DIYer ended up paying over $7,000 to redo one room in his house because he tried to wire it himself instead of hiring an electrician. Imagine how much money he would have saved by hiring a professional in the first place!
4. Understanding GFIs
Are you thinking about rewiring your bathroom or adding an outlet to the outside of your home? If so, do you clearly understand the difference between a regular outlet and a GFI (or GFCI) outlet?
Put simply, a GFI features a built-in sensor that switches off the outlet whenever moisture is present. Not only does this reduce the risk of electrical shock, but it can also prevent a fire.
Many a DIYer has installed a regular outlet where a GFI was needed–and paid dearly for it. Don’t make the same mistake. A professional electrician can evaluate your home and determine exactly where you need this type of outlet.
5. Plenty of Skilled Electricians Available
A final reason why you shouldn’t attempt DIY electrical work is there are plenty of licensed and knowledgeable electricians out there.
These skilled men and women have undergone extensive training to ensure their work is safe for everyone involved. Rather than take unnecessary risks, why not tap into their wealth of knowledge and experience?
Don’t DIY: Hire a Skilled Electrician
As you can see, the risks of DIY electrical wiring far outweigh any potential benefits.
It’s not worth putting yourself, your family, and your home at risk to try to save a few bucks. This is one job that’s best left to the pros who know how to do it safely and correctly–the first time.
Wondering how to find the best electrician or other home repair specialist in your area? Check out our recent post for our expert tips.