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DIY. What if I made a mistake while doing electrical work?

Well, some mistakes you can make in as little as 20 seconds, yet they are deadly. Here is just a couple of examples: over-fusing and two-line three-wire circuits that share a neutral Some are dangerous, like:

  • driving a screw through a cable with missing protective plate

  • missing, cut off, or not connected ground conductor

  • exceeding a maximum allowed bulb wattage

  • incorrect type or gauge of wire

  • illegal, unprotected splicing

  • missing cover plates

  • reverse polarity

  • etc.

There are many hundreds of examples in this category. And some mistakes lead to an unsafe or less safe conditions even if you did not do the electrical work per se. EXAMPLES: 1) Extension cords in walls or through walls or used permanently. Extension cord is for temporary use only. You are not allowed to run it through the wall or install permanently. Do not fasten it to a structure. Lamp, appliance and extension cords' insulation is less safe, less durable and it is just not intended for these purposes. 2) Using too many loads on one circuit. In the kitchen you plugged in a toaster, a coffee machine and a bread cooker. If you overloaded the circuit, a breaker trips. Annoyance and nothing else. But what if the breaker was defective or a fuse was 30 Amp instead of 15 Amp? This quite innocent scenario could quickly become a deadly fire! 3) Replacing a switch or wall plug on aluminum wiring or connecting a light fixture to knob and tube conductors. Some basic but very specific knowledge is necessary to do it correctly. The code book consists of two thousand or so rules applicable to residential electrical work. Most of the specifications have always been there from day one. They are absolutely obvious. But some of them were added later, after accident and/or fire investigations. Adhering to every rule is critical to your home and family safety. Are you familiar with the 2,000 code requirements? Do you know that some subtle skills and knowledge could only come from years of hands-on experience? So if in doubt, do not try your luck, call a licensed electrician. Do not do it yourself hoping for the best or just holding your fingers crossed. Homeowner's annual electrical checklist. DIY safety inspection

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