If you’re one of the many ‘civilians’ who enjoy watching DIY shows on the TV and dreaming about undertaking your own DIY adventures then more the power to you. However, electrical work is one area that the TV makes look a lot easier than it actually is. Because, whilst it might be possible for most average DIY enthusiasts to do common electrical repairs, it can also end in tragedy if not done right – with electrocution and even house fires a possibility.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of the most common electrical mistakes and everything that homeowners could and should be doing to avoid them.
Cutting too short – Electrical wires should always be given enough slack so they can extend at least a good few inches from your junction box. Cutting wires too short is a very common error and can result in poor connections, but can be solved by splicing the wire and adding an extension.
Junction boxes – All electrical wiring should be installed inside a junction box, which will protect the wires and contain any rogue sparks in the event of a short circuit. Ensure that all junction boxes are fitted flush with the wall too because otherwise, it leaves combustible materials exposed. Your junction boxes should also be filled only with the approved amount of wiring, as overstuffing can also lead to problems.
Unprotected wires – Having exposed wiring in your walls is a recipe for disaster that can easily be avoided by investing in flexible plastic conduit to shield it from the elements and from the walls themselves, which are particularly at risk if there are wooden beams involved. This material is relatively affordable, particularly if sourced online from specialist retailers such as RS Components.
Mixing gauges – A circuit should always contain the same wire gauge throughout, otherwise, it is in danger of being overloaded. Note the amps in the circuit and choose your wiring accordingly by checking the amp capacity of the gauge (10 gauge for 30 amps, 12 for 20 and 14 for 15 etc.) and don’t necessarily go off what the wires look like. When it comes to wiring, looks can be deceiving!
GFCI outlets – A ground fault circuit interrupter is vital in areas where appliances are likely to come into contact with water at some point, as they monitor the power running to each appliance and are able to cut it completely if any variation is detected. This can be quite literally lifesaving in many cases and should always be considered in bathrooms, kitchens and any other situations where water might be present.
Loose sockets – Finally, loose switches and plug sockets are not only aesthetically unpleasing but are unsafe at the best of times. Ensure all plug sockets are tight and use spacers to pack out the sockets in situations where a screwdriver simply won’t do the trick.