Every home in the present times has electric connection and consumes electric power to some extent or the other. And sooner or later some kind of issue is going to pop up in your home’s electrics system. A qualified and licensed electrician is your best bet to resolve all such problems. On the other hand electricians expect you to be aware about few facts. These facts not only make their task somewhat easier but also keep your home safe from hazards like electrical fires and shocks.
What are those facts? Read on to know more…
Never ignore warning signs
When something goes wrong electrical systems invariably give out warning signals. You should never ever ignore those signs as they indicate problems in your electrics system. The commonest waning signs include the following:
- A light switch runs excessively hot
- An outlet gives out popping sound
- A breaker refuses to reset
You should take these signals as warning signs and take proactive measure to resolve them without delay.
The positive thing is almost every electrical issue is easily solvable, provided you take timely action. Else if you dillydally instead of taking necessary actions and allow time to pass by, the problem will only turn more and more acute. The risk factor too grows with time. Awareness and action against electrical issues are the two fundamental steps to prevent electrical fires and electric shocks at homes.
Know about the GFCI
A failure in the electrical circuit of bathrooms is one of the commonest service calls that electricians receive. As per code, a GFCI or ground fault circuit interrupt is to be installed to protect all outlets that are placed within 6 feet of a water source. This is a vital safety device for homes; it cuts down power supply when a circuit loses amperage. This is why the device is mostly seen in bathrooms and also exterior outlets. Electricians appreciate when you are aware that a single GFCI protects EVERYTHING downstream that are connected to that particular circuit. Usually bathrooms are not placed on an isolated circuit. This means when a GFCI triggers power cut, all the lights and outlets that are on that particular circuit get affected. Things turn out to be more confusing because of the fact that a GFCI is installed nowhere else but in the electrical breaker box itself. To troubleshoot the problem of dead outlets checking out the GFCI proves to be helpful.
LIVE overhead powerlines!
Overhead power lines are usually un-insulated. Birds and squirrels hang out on those circuits and stay alive only because they are not completing a circuit by touching the ground below. When you touch the ground while holding on to a power line you provide an easier path for the current to flow through than the cable in question. The majority of outdoor power lines come weather coated but there is no insulation other than spacers for them at utility poles. This does not pose a problem only because they are placed so high. However when a line falls or a worker accidentally touches it while trimming a tree danger comes knocking. The portions of a line that can be touched from a rooftop or tree top are although insulated but that wears out with time. You should always approach every overhead electric cable knowing it is potentially fatal. Only a licensed electrician or a utility worker is the best person to tackle it.
You must be aware about your DIY limits
The DIY approach is indeed appreciative. It is a great way to master newer skills and boost self-reliance. But at the same time it is equally important to be aware about the limitations and boundaries of those skills. For all DIY newbies – the best thing and the safest too is working only on electrical components that are outside the wall and not inside. Gradually with time as you hone your skills and become an amateur electrician, only then you can take up more advanced works like adding outlets although your local building department may not allow that. The problem crops up when DIY enthusiasts who are high on enthusiasm but low on skill and experience try tackling an electrical project. They invariably bury their imperfections within a layer of dry wall.
White is NOT always Neutral just as Black is NOT always Live
This is contradictory to best practices but it is true. Why? The reason is pretty logical. The electrical system of a home is obviously vast and complicated. Moreover, it is most likely that the system has been worked upon by dozens of different electricians at different points of time. And many of them were not even properly trained, skilled or knowledgeable. Many of them did not follow the code. So in such circumstance what do you expect? You open up an electrical outlet to run into an ever puzzling and clumsy bird’s nest of wires, wire nuts and electrical tape. Obviously that does not prevent you from working on it but that also means you have to excessively careful and conscious with your work. There is just no room for you to make assumptions. Rather rely on a non contact voltage tester to ascertain a line is dead before you start working on it.
Low voltage does not mean danger-free
An electrical system that is low in voltage is certainly not as dangerous as working on the electrical breaker box at your home. But it is important to note that you must take the basic precautions while working on any low voltage system. You should better treat a low voltage wiring as if it is up to the standard and follow the best practices accordingly. This will certainly pay off when you go on to tackle systems with higher voltage. It is also relevant to note, it is not the voltage that spells hazard but it is the electric current. At times even a low voltage wiring can draw much higher current that is above the safe mark.
A reliable electrician in Maida Vale says, low voltage wiring proves dangerous when it gives a mild shock all on a sudden. The sudden shock may surprise you to the extent that you fall down a ladder or step stool seriously hurting yourself from the fall. A momentary spark coming from a loosely secured low voltage connection will set combustible materials ablaze just as easily as a 110 Volt electrical junction. Never ever consider storing oily rags beside a low voltage electrical device.