When planning to renovate your home, there are many things to consider, but the most critical is being sure the electrical wiring and systems are done correctly. Whether you plan to do the electrical work yourself or hire an electrician, safety from electrical hazards must be your foremost concern. Failure to give this critical aspect the attention it demands can result in property damage and loss of life if a fire should result from an improper wiring job. To help get you started right, here are some important electrical safety tips to keep in mind when renovating your home:
While it is tempting to get to the fun part of your home renovation project, such as picking out new lighting fixtures and appliances, you first need to take the time to plan out what, if any, wiring upgrades you will need. Knowing how many amps each electrical unit will draw and the voltage requirements is imperative for a safe renovation. You will also need to check with your local building department to determine what permits will be required for the work you plan to do.
Know The Codes
Most jurisdictions will have codes or regulations that define what type of work can be done and how it must be executed. Codes are written specifically to address safety concerns, and codes governing electrical work for kitchens, baths, and other areas are typically designed to ensure the work is performed properly. Hence, the risk of fire is either eliminated or reduced as much as possible.
Know Your Limits
While doing the work yourself may seem like a good idea to save money, electricity is nothing for someone who is not qualified to be fooling around with. If you are not fully capable of performing electrical work, you should hire a professional electrician. In the short run, the money you spend will more than make up for dealing with the aftermath of a home fire if the wiring isn’t done properly. Additionally, there is also the real possibility of electrocution if you accidentally touch something you shouldn’t.
Hiring An Electrician
Some wiring jobs, like replacing a receptacle, are easy enough for a weekend do-it-yourself to handle. However, more technical projects, like adding a new circuit, require professional-level expertise. Additionally, some jurisdictions may not allow you to perform electrical work yourself during a home renovation unless you have a professional certification. If you decide you need or want to hire an electrician, you will want to make sure the electrician is properly licensed and has a solid reputation. For example, If you are near Corpus Christi, TX, you can search on google “electricians in Corpus Christi TX” and find many electricians in Corpus Christi. Ask friends, family, and coworkers who they have used and their experience with the contractor. After you have collected a few names, check with your state’s governing board that the prospects have the proper licenses. Finally, ask each prospect for references and check each reference they provide.
Water And Moisture
The combination of water and electricity is nothing short of a hazardous situation that can cause damage to property, personal injury, and even death. Because of this, you must be constantly aware of damp areas where wires are exposed during your home renovation. Also, pay attention to the buildup of dust and debris as these can trap moisture and create an electrical hazard. Keeping areas well ventilated by opening windows and doors and running fans will help keep construction areas dry.
Installing ceiling fixtures requires a ladder, and you must use a ladder suited to the job at hand. For interior work, this typically means a step ladder. However, people sometimes try to get by with a too-short ladder for the job and end up falling because they climb too high, and the ladder becomes unstable. To be safe, never climb higher than the second step down from the top on a stepladder. For exterior work, the ladder should be at no more than a 75 percent incline. A good rule of thumb is to keep the ladder’s base one to two feet away from the wall it is leaning against.
During a renovation, homes more than 50 years old may need to have the entire wiring system replaced. This is because many newer technologies that weren’t even thought of 50 years ago have increased power demands, and older wiring often has insulation that degrades over time. This combination runs the risk of a fire starting inside of a wall that can burn a house to the ground.
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters, or GFCIs, are special receptacles designed to disconnect the power if an appliance comes in contact with water or moisture. GFCIs should be installed in areas like kitchens, baths, basements, and pool areas, where there is a risk of an appliance coming into contact with water. In addition, many jurisdictions require GFCIs for new construction as well as renovations.
Plan For Outages
There will inevitably be periods during a home renovation project where you will have to deal with partial or full electrical outages while the wiring is being worked. To minimizes the disruptions in activities like cooking and bathing, plan and try to time the outages for when it will be the least disruptive to your routine.
Children And Pets
Electrical safety during a renovation extends to your family, especially children and pets who may have no concept of the lurking dangers of exposed electrical wires. Other issues include stirring up dust and mold, and older homes built before 1978 may have dangerous materials, such as lead and asbestos. These substances easily become airborne when tearing into structures when performing electrical work and can be extremely harmful if inhaled.
While this is by no means a fully inclusive list, keeping these safety tips in mind will go a long way in preventing many common mistakes that can cause safety issues when performing a home renovation. The two big takeaways should know when to hire a professional and be sure you understand and comply with all local and state building codes for both legal and safety reasons.