Far too many homeowners are under the impression electrical work is the perfect DIY project. While there may be some tasks that you can do on your own, in most cases it is better to call in a licensed electrician. Here are some facts, figures, and tips regarding electrical fire safety.
Electrical Fire Safety Facts and Figures
- Typically, over $1 billion in damages is realized in property loss every year due to electrical fires.
- Over 26,000 deaths occur every year in fires caused by electrical problems.
- The holiday season (December and January) show the highest concentration of electrical fires.
- Wiring that has been “fixed” is one of the largest culprits of home fires. This is especially disturbing because few of these fixes are actually done by an actual electrician.
- Problems with light bulbs and light fixtures are among the leading causes of fires.
- Improper maintenance, overloading of circuits, and the misuse of electrical cords are a significant cause of “avoidable” electrical fires.
- More residential fires are started in the bedroom, but the most deaths occur in fires that are started in living areas of the home (such as the dining room or living room).
- While system failure is the cause of some home fires, in most cases, it is due to improper wiring and the overloading of circuits (a common mistake for DIY homeowners).
Electrical Fire Safety Tips
- Extension cords should not be used on a permanent basis. They are meant for temporary power only. If you are using one for something specific that is in use all the time, you should have extra outlets installed in that location.
- Never use an extension cord for a major appliance, always plug them directly into an outlet.
- All power strips and surge protectors should feature overload test label.
- Check wiring on all appliances several times a year. Schedule it during daylight savings time to make it easy to remember. Any damaged or frayed wiring should be replaced immediately.
- Any electrical tool causing sparks, electrical shorts, shocks, or that overheats should be replaced.
- Always use the recommended wattage light bulb for your fixtures.
- Never force a three-prong plug into a two-pronged outlet. Use an adapter or use the proper outlet.
- All electrical work should be performed by a licensed electrician.
There are times when we all think we are geniuses when it comes to fixing things around the house. A pipe leaks, a railing breaks, or a door handle comes off and we turn into Bob Vila! This is fine for some basic home repairs but when it comes to electricity, it is better to be careful and hire an electrician.
One of the main reasons using a licensed electrician is recommended is because of the safety factor. A confident DIY’er may think merely turning off the main is enough to prevent them from being electrocuted when working with live wires, but that is not always the case. Thinking the supply is cut off and knowing how to test to make sure it is off are two completely different things.
In addition, it is unlikely that the average DIY homeowner is going to know the latest codes and regulations. This may not seem like a big deal at the moment but when it comes time to sell the house, it may be the difference in the home being approved for sale or not. If a potential buyer has the home inspected and finds “rigged” or improper wiring, they have every right to expect the problem to be rectified before agreeing to sale.
Another concern is securing the proper permits to do a job. While some work can be started right away, there are a variety of jobs that must have local authoritative approval before the job can be started. Without the proper permits, the building inspector could show up at any time and require you to open the walls and replace the wiring.
When looking for an electrician for your wiring project, make sure they are properly licensed and certified. You may also want to check that the business is registered with the state as well as checking their BBB (Better Business Bureau) rating. It may seem like a simple task, but a small mistake can lead to catastrophic results when you are dealing with electricity.
In such a tough housing market, homeowners making improvements should choose projects that will not only allow them to better enjoy their home, but also improve the value of it. Landscape lighting is one such idea because it increase the hours of enjoyment outside during the summer months, makes the home look better, increases value, as well as providing extra security.
Have you ever been forced to bring the party inside during the summer merely because there was not enough lighting outside? You sent the kids scrambling for tiki torches or candles, but you either did not have enough or they simply could not find them. Now you are faced with either ending the party or moving the guests indoors, which you were trying to avoid in the first place by having an outdoor party.
Situations such as this can be avoided by having an electrician install outdoor landscape lighting. In addition to making your space more usable, you can now accent features of the home that will make it look more appealing to anyone walking or driving by. You never know, one of those individuals just may be in the market for a new home and when your home goes up for sale, it is that perimeter lighting that will create interest in your home.
Never underestimate the value of lighting in regard to security, either. Put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer. You are looking at two homes, both similarly priced, but the more expensive one has significant landscape lighting enhancing the landscaping as well as providing extra security around the doors and windows. Which home would you be more likely to buy?
Home improvements are often a risky undertaking for a homeowner because they rarely increase the value of the home by as much as it costs the homeowner to install. Landscape lighting offers one of the higher ROI for homeowners simply because it makes such an impression on the buyer. People are more likely to not only buy homes with a breathtaking entryway, they are also more likely to pay more!
Anyone can go online, find a how-to guide for installing a light switch or performing rewiring, and get to work. Unfortunately, injury to the individual or the home often results. Cutting corners with this work jeopardizes the safety of the home and those who live within it. Electrical installation and repairs should only be undertaken by a licensed electrician or electrical contractor.
Faulty wiring turns the home into a fire hazard. Novices do not realize the interdependent network that electrical wiring represents. A poorly designed circuit can provide the wrong amperage to appliances and electronics, causing irreparable damage. Lights placed on an overloaded circuit may flicker when appliances are in use or trip the breaker, completely shutting down the circuit.
It is not difficult to find a qualified electrician and a state license is the first indicator. A master electrician also has two or more years of experience and has passed a standardized occupational test. This individual is well-versed in the National Electrical Code and any state modifications. Electrical system planning, design, installation, and maintenance are tasks that a master electrician may perform.
A journeyman electrician also has a state license but has not yet qualified for the master’s license. This individual can install equipment and wiring but may not design systems. Some states require a journeyman electrician to work with a master. In addition to these degrees of expertise, some electricians specialize, focusing on commercial or residential work, new construction, repair, or remodeling.
Consumers can find recommendations for electricians from a local electrical supply house or home builder association. To get an electrician who is the best fit, they should describe the type of work required. Interviewing the electrician, checking references, and asking for proof of insurance and a copy of the state license helps identify the best professional for the job.