Thousands of people across the country are injured or electrocuted in preventable home accidents every year, many of which occur during DIY electrical projects. While we would never discourage you from doing easy home electrical projects yourself, it’s crucial that you do them safely. May is Electrical Safety Month, so it’s a perfect time to address some simple home electrical safety tips for common DIY projects that could keep you and your family safe.
The Proper Gear for the Job
The first lesson in electrical safety training is always to have the right equipment for the job. Before you begin any home electrical project, whether it’s installing a new appliance or changing a light fixture, it’s essential to have the proper gear.
- Rubber gloves: When installing a lighting fixture or other electrical appliance, rubber gloves can be useful in preventing minor burns or shocks. They do make intricate steps more difficult at times so do your research before starting a project.
- Rubber gripped tools: Tools with plastic handles can crack, causing a shock hazard when working with electrical wiring. Look for rubber insulated and handled tools and keep them in a separate toolbox, so they’re easier to find when you need them.
- Wire testers: These handy little tools are a must for electrical safety. Wire testers can tell you if there is power running through a particular wire, keeping you safe throughout a project.
- Voltage testers: A voltage tester tells which wires or cables are live, so you always know you’re working with the correct ones.
- Pliers: Pliers can help hold back other objects and obstacles while you work on the wires themselves.
- Electrical tape: Used to insulate anything that conducts electricity, electrical tape is handy to have on any project.
Ceiling Fan Installation Safety
Once you’ve started your home project, always keep an eye out for warning signs that you may have a safety issue. Installing a ceiling fan, for instance, can present many electrical problems. You could always leave the dirty work to the experts, but if you do decide to install yourself, use a voltage tester. Even after the power has been shut off, there may be live wires in the ceiling box. Read the manual for any specifications you may not be aware of. If there are signs of a problem or you become overwhelmed at any point, do not attempt to finish the project yourself.
Smart Thermostat Installation Safety
Before installing a new thermostat, you need to make sure it’s compatible with your home’s wiring. Most smart thermostats have online checklists, so you can ensure they’re compatible before purchasing.
The best time to replace your thermostat is when your HVAC system isn’t urgently needed, meaning not in the dead of winter or during a heat wave. If you have an issue replacing it or encounter a problem, you don’t want to be without heat or air conditioning when it’s essential.
Always turn off your HVAC system before replacing the thermostat and take a picture of the wiring once you remove the faceplate, so there’s no confusion later. If your system doesn’t have an existing C-wire, you’ll have to add one for your smart thermostat to function. If you’re uncomfortable adding a wire yourself, call an expert electrician. An incorrectly wired thermostat could damage your entire system.
Lighting Fixture Installation Safety
Besides the obvious prep you’ll need to do before installing a new lighting fixture, like turning the power off from the circuit breaker and making sure you have a sturdy ladder and the necessary equipment, you may need someone to assist. Depending on the weight of your fixture, it may be much easier with someone to hold the weight of it while you focus on the wiring. Never let anything dangle from electrical wires while you’re working. An improperly installed lighting fixture can short out your entire system.
Call a Professional Electrician
Whenever a DIY home project becomes too much, don’t be afraid to reach out to the experts. From ceiling fan installation to full-home surge protectors, your local Mr. Electric has experience with all types of electrical projects. Call (844) 866-1367 or schedule an appointment online today.
Now that you are informed of the top electrical safety tips, check out these HVAC safety tips from Aire Serv. Aire Serv is a member of Neighborly’s community of home service professionals. From boiler installation to air conditioning repair, you can count on Aire Serv for all your home heating and cooling needs.