There are some minor electrical tasks that are fairly easy to do on your own as long as you know a bit about what you’re doing, for instance, changing out a light fixture or replacing a power outlet. That being said, working around any type of electrical circuit, appliance or system comes with inherent risks. For this reason, it is vital that you always make sure to follow these tips to protect yourself against shocks, burns and other electrical hazards.
1. Always Turn Off the Power Before Doing Any Work
The very first thing you should do before working on any type of electrical component is make sure the power is fully shut off. If you are sure which breaker controls that specific circuit, you can simply shut that breaker off. Nonetheless, you are usually best to switch off the main circuit breaker to the entire building for added safety. It’s also a good idea to put a sign on the circuit panel to make sure no one accidentally turns the power back on while you’re working.
You should also make sure to unplug any electrical devices before attempting to work on them or even inspect them. This is true even if doing something as seemingly easy as trying to get a stuck piece of toast out of the toaster as this could still possibly electrocute you if you’re not careful.
2. Test to Make Sure the Circuit Is Dead Before Starting
If you’re going to attempt to do any type of electrical work yourself, you absolutely need to invest in a voltmeter. This device allows you to test to make sure that there is no electricity flowing through the circuit before getting started. No professional electrician would ever do any work without first testing the circuit with a voltmeter, which means you definitely shouldn’t either.
3. Avoid Water and Make Sure Your Hands Are Dry
As you’re surely aware, water and electricity make a bad combination. You always need to make sure that your hands are fully dry before working on any electrical component or even before plugging or unplugging appliances. You should also never do any type of electrical work or even touch anything electric if there is standing water on the floor or anywhere near where you’re working.
4. Never Use an Aluminum or Steel Ladder When Working with Electricity
If you’re doing any type of overhead electrical work where you need to use a ladder, it is vital that you only ever use an OSHA-approved wooden or fiberglass ladder. This is true even for small tasks like changing a lightbulb. Aluminum or steel ladders are highly conductive and should never be used around electricity or in any area with overhead power lines. In the event of a power surge, a metal ladder will conduct the electricity and electrocute anyone standing on the ladder or potentially even anyone standing close to it.
You should also always make sure to check all overhead power lines before cleaning out your gutters or doing any work on the outside of your home. Let’s say the power line running to your house is touching a tree branch that also touches your roof. In this situation, the branch could conduct the electricity into your gutters and electrocute you even if you’re using an approved fiberglass or wood ladder.
5. Always Use Insulated Tools and Insulated Rubber Gloves
Insulated tools and rubber gloves are also always recommended when working with or around electricity to help prevent accidental electrocution. You should also always wear rubber-soled boots to keep you grounded and ensure that any electrical currents can’t pass through your body. This is another one of those areas where the professionals always do it so you should too.
6. Never Use Frayed or Damaged Cords
One of the most common electrical hazards is using cords or appliances that are damaged. Frayed or damaged cords could potentially shock you or cause the outlet or device to short-circuit and possibly catch fire. The easiest way to avoid these issues is to regularly inspect the cords on all of your appliances and electrical devices to make sure they are still fully insulated and in good shape. If not, it is always best to throw them out to avoid any unnecessary risks. You should also make sure to fully inspect any extension cord before every use.
7. Don’t Overload Your Power Outlets
This one doesn’t have much to do with working around electricity per se, but it is still worth mentioning since it occurs so frequently. You should always make sure that you never overload any electrical outlets as this could have dire consequences for you and your home. If the outlet has too many things plugged into it and is drawing too much power, it should trigger the circuit breaker to trip. However, an overloaded circuit can heat up extremely quickly and potentially cause a fire even if the circuit trips. It could also potentially damage the wiring in the circuit and lead to expensive repairs.
8. Make Sure to Test All GFCI Outlets Monthly
Unless you live in an older home and haven’t had your electrical system updated in many years, you should have GFCI (Ground-Fault Circuit Interruptor) outlets in your bathroom, kitchen, outdoor sockets, garage and anywhere else near a potential source of water. These outlets function like a secondary circuit breaker and will automatically shut off if water gets into the outlet or anything else causes it to ground fault or short-circuit.
Although GFCIs are a huge help in preventing electrocution and other electrical hazards, they are not always failproof and can eventually stop working properly. This is why you should always make sure to test all of your GFCI outlets at least once a month to ensure they are still functioning properly.
9. When In Doubt, Always Call a Professional Electrician
Probably the biggest tip we can give you is to never perform any type of electrical work unless you’re absolutely sure you know what you’re doing and take all of the proper precautions to keep yourself safe. If you don’t have the right tools or aren’t sure you know what you’re doing, it is always better to call a professional electrician instead of taking any risks. The consequences of not doing so could potentially be disastrous for your home or even deadly.
If you need any type of electrical services in Marshfield or the surrounding areas, the professional electricians at Crowe Electric are ready to help. We specialize in electrical installation, repairs and rewiring as well as recessed lighting and home generators. Our team is available 24/7 for all emergency situations, and we provide a five-year warranty on all work we perform. We are also happy to provide free second opinions, and financing is available for some services on approved credit. We also regularly offer special discounts on inspections and some new equipment purchases. Crowe Electric is a local, family-owned company, and we are proud to give back to our community by supporting numerous local charities. Whatever type of electrical services you need, give us a call and we’ll be glad to help.