While virtually all DIY work carries some risk of harm, electrical work is in a class of its own. Many homeowners choose to hire a licensed professional to do any electrical tasks in their homes. That’s usually the safest bet. An article for the National Center for Biotechnology Information states that there are 1000 deaths per year in the United States due to electrocution and at least 30,000 non-fatal shock incidents per year.
The keys to successful DIY electric work are educating yourself, working within the law and your limits, and prioritizing safety above all. Read on for pro tips and advice from licensed professionals about taking on electrical tasks safely and successfully.
1. Respect electricity and what it can do.
The fact that humans have been able to harness electricity’s raw power and weave it into the fabric of our everyday lives is truly incredible. But because of our familiarity with electricity, we sometimes forget how hazardous it can be.
“Electricity is not a hobby. It’s a force to be respected,” says Gregory Bowman, a master electrician and owner of Concorde Electrical Services in Brooklyn, N.Y. “To truly respect something, you have to understand the power it has.”
Before attempting any electrical DIY tasks at home, take time to learn about electricity, such as the differences between amperage, voltage, and wattage. And recognize the effects that electrical shock can have on your body—including burns, altered heartbeat, loss of consciousness, heart attack, and even death.
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2. Learn the basics.
With a healthy respect for electricity in hand, DIYers looking to do electrical work at home should familiarize themselves with the fundamental concepts and components of residential wiring, including electrical panels, breakers, circuits, ground-fault circuit interrupters