May is Electrical Safety Month - but electrical safety is something we should keep at the top of our minds year round. For many homeowners, if it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind. Because you don’t necessarily “see” your electrical set up each day, you might not think about the maintenance it needs to keep your home safe.
Hire a Professional
Electrical work is not a DIY project - it’s something I won’t even mess with on my own. I always call in my guy, Frank, and you should call yours, too. Some of the biggest renovation nightmares I’ve come across involved bad electrical work. Bad wiring jobs can lead to overloaded circuits, buried junctions, and unsafe connections – which are all a recipe for an electrical fire – endangering you and your family.
So I’ll say it again: HIRE A PROFESSIONAL. I’ve seen a lot of contractors and handymen offer to “do the electrical” as part of a job to save the homeowners some money. They might do the job fine – they might not. How will you know? Is it worth saving a few bucks to take that risk? It takes years of training to become a licensed electrician – if it were my home, I’d make sure the professionals are called, and proper permits are acquired.
Hiring an electrical contractor is like hiring any other contractor. Interview as many as you can, look at online reviews, ask them for references from past clients (and call them!), and always make sure they’re licensed and insured.
Signs You should Bring in An Electrician
Knowing when it’s time to bring in a pro is key to keeping your home safe from risk of electrical fires. I have my entire electrical set up checked every four years or so, just to be safe. But there are some warning signs to keep an eye out for that mean you should call an electrician immediately.
Light bulbs that are constantly flickering could mean you’ve got a problem with your wiring or circuits. Have you ever seen your outlets or light switches spark, or feel hot to the touch? Also look out for constantly blowing fuses, or having breakers that always flip, or a burning smell when you use certain outlets. Even discolored outlets could be your home telling you there’s a problem.
Problems with your electrical system don’t get better on their own – in fact, they’ll just get worse over time. Don’t let what seem like minor problems turn into major disasters.
One last piece of advice-get a surge protector. I had Eaton’s complete home surge protector installed after I lost some of my major appliances to a surge. Surge strips are a great start, but they don’t protect the rest of the circuit or your home. A licensed electrician can install the complete home surge protector at the breaker panel, so if there is ever a surge it stops it from travelling to the rest of your home.
Remember – most renovation jobs will involve electrical work in some capacity. Plan renovations well in advance to make sure the job is done properly, and you’re not covering up any potentially dangerous mistakes.