Most DIY project failures are annoying and frustrating, but they aren’t life threatening. Things change a little bit when you are talking about doing DIY work on electrical problems. Electrical home repair projects can be a killer – literally – if you don’t know what you are doing. Before you grab your power tools and plunge head on into the world of electrical problem repair, look over this checklist to make sure safety comes first.
In some states, you need permission from the electric company or another local body before you can do any work on the electrical system, even in your own home. Make sure you know the codes in your area and get the permission you need in writing before you begin any project. Seeking this permission can have benefits – you may find out about special electric work that is going on that is the cause of the problem you think you are having.
Turn ‘Em Off
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you have turned off a light switch you have turned off the power. You need to disconnect electrical power at the breaker itself, or the line will still be live. Beyond that, don’t flip a switch on the breaker and assume all is well. To be extra safe, you need to make sure that the line is dead by testing it with a voltage tester. These are found in all hardware stores and come with clear instructions.
Do not, under any circumstances, tamper with electrical wires on main lines outside of your home. Not only will you be the most unpopular person in the neighborhood as you blow out TVs and computers up and down the block, you will likely be breaking the law – and this is if you live to tell the tale. If the problem is outside, call the electric company. That is why you pay your bills.
Needless to say, the power stays off until you are done with your project.
Water, Metal and Rubber
When you’re working on electric projects, don’t stand in water. You knew that one, right? Well, how about, also make sure your clothes are bone dry and nothing anywhere near you is damp. If the floor is a little wet, and you’re not sure if it is too wet to work, stand on a rubber mat, which will protect you from electric charges in the water.
In fact, rubber is a good idea even if the floor is not wet at all – that added safety precaution. A bad idea is to be on metal – like that metal ladder you were going to stand on. They don’t use metal in electric wires for nothing – it conducts the stuff like crazy. Keep the metal out of your electricity related home improvement projects.
When in doubt about any step in working with electricity, defer to the professional. Mistakes here are far worse than the collapse of the entertainment center you put together.