February 23, 2017 • In Electrical • 4 Min Read

Common DIY Wiring Mistakes

Haller Enterprises

By Haller Enterprises

Whether you’re a do-it-yourself type or looking to cut costs, you may have considered wiring your home yourself. It’s certainly possible to wire your home successfully if it’s a simple job and you are very careful. However, electrical wiring mistakes can be quite dangerous, and should not be taken lightly. Even the smallest mistakes can result in electrocution, shorting your entire home electrical system or even a home fire. If you’re going to try DIY wiring, it’s important to avoid these common wiring mistakes.

1. Using an Extension Cord as Permanent Wiring

Extension cords are great temporary solutions to having too few outlets, but they are not meant for permanent installations like garage door openers or wall air conditioners. Those installations need to be wired using the proper wiring, terminators and by a licensed electrician. Most extension cords are for temporary use only, unless marked otherwise. Using an extension cord long-term can result in electrical fires or shorting wires.

2. Leaving an Open Splice or Unprotected Wiring

Leaving wire connections exposed is another common wiring mistake. This is a huge fire hazard, especially if the splice is within sparking distance of flammable material. Splicing wire can be a necessary step in creating new connections for new areas of the home that need electricity. Spliced wire must be covered after connection. If it isn’t, the electricity is flowing completely unsheathed. This often results in electrical fires.Moreover, most towns and municipalities have strict codes that dictate what you can and cannot do with wiring and what you can cover and where. All splices must be performed in a UL listed box with a cover and all splices in boxes must be readily accessible.

3. Having Too Many Outlets Installed On A Wire

Overloading the amount of outlets on a wire can result in a number of problems. If too many appliances are turned on at once, the circuits will likely be too heavily loaded and drop voltage. This can cause items to not work properly or a utility blowout.If you are lucky and the breaker does not malfunction, it will continue to trip. If it were to stop working properly, it can lead to permanent failure, damage, and even fire.

4. Cutting Wires Too Short

If your wires are too short, you’ll have trouble making connections, which can create problems like electrocution while you’re making connections or electrical shorts later. Make sure the wires are long enough that they come out at least about three inches from the electrical box.This needs to be checked by code and if wires are too short, you may have to run them again. This is not only takes up a lot of time but creates a bigger hassle for you. Adding length to the wires is acceptable by code as long as you are using the proper wire terminators. Getting it right the first time is the key, something a professional knows exactly how to do. If you’re unsure about adding length, your best bet is to contact a professional.

5. Leaving Cable Unprotected

It’s not enough to secure electrical cables to the wall. If they are in occupied areas of the home where family members can make contact with them and damage them, they need to be protected in some way.Attention must be paid to securing these wires, as you may nick the insulation as you secure it causing a potential short or spark point, which may pose a fire hazard. Remember, all exposed wiring must be protected from physical abuse and be readily accessible.

6. Using an Ungrounded Electrical Socket

If you’ve got a pre-1960 home, you may have receptacles with only two slots, lacking the slot for the grounding plug. Just putting in a three-slot receptacle where that grounding slot isn’t connected to anything doesn’t do the trick and creates a hidden safety hazard. If you need to go from a two-prong outlet to a three-prong outlet, it’s probably time to call a professional.

7. Installing the Box Improperly

If you need to install an electrical box in the wall, it should be flush with the face of the wall, not protruding out into the room. This reduces the risk of the box being jostled and connections being pulled or broken. If the box protrudes, you run a greater risk of potential electrocution or damaging the connections.

8. Using the Wrong Wire

Know the appropriate wires for the job. Using the wrong wires is one of the common electrical wiring mistakes. If a wire is rated for fewer amps than the breaker or fuse you’re attaching it to, you’re asking for trouble. You could face continually shorting breakers or even an electrical fire.If you’re set on trying to do your home wiring yourself, be sure to understand what you’re doing and know when the job gets too big for you. The safety of you, your home, and your family isn’t worth taking the chance.Going with a professional electrician will cost you more money than doing it yourself, but you get a lot of value for that money. You’re paying not only so you will be safe from injury while the wiring is taking place, but also so you and your family will be safe when the job is finished, without any concerns about poorly installed electrical wires that could cause shocks or fires.For expert electrical work in central Pennsylvania and beyond, contact Haller Enterprises, the 2014 ACCA Contractors of the Year. They’ll do the job right the first time and offer attractive financing options so you can have top professionals do your wiring without worrying about the cost.
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