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10 Safety Tips for Working with Electricity

Statistics show that each year, thousands of individuals require emergency medical care after attempting to work on their home’s electrical system without taking the proper precautions. By following a few simple guidelines and using little common sense, you can avoid getting zapped or causing a fire when upgrading or making repairs to your home’s electrical system.

Top Ten Safety Tips for Working with Electricity

1. Know your limitations. Some projects could be more complex than you bargained for. If at any point during a project feel your electrical expertise may not be up to snuff, call a professional in to finish up the job. You home’s wiring infrastructure is an intricate, yet powerful system. One misstep during even a simple rewire job can cause a serious house fire.

2. Wear the right gear. When working with electrical components, it’s important to wear the right safety gear to prevent injuries. Your gear should consist of safety glasses, rubber-soled shoes, gloves, and a dust mask. Your safety gear is your first line of defense when working with potentially dangerous open circuits.

3. Mind your fuses & breakers. If you are performing any work on your home’s electrical system, be sure to turn off any corresponding breakers to the area. To be sure power is off, test receptacles in the area where you will be working. Which brings us to…

4. Clearly label breaker boxes and electrical panels. In most cases, your breaker box or electrical panel was marked with what breakers go to which receptacles or appliances by a licensed electrician when your home was built. When major repairs are preformed, make sure your electrician changes the breaker or panel designations accordingly. The writing on these panels can wear off over time, so be sure to re-label often.

5. Test, test, and test again. Once you have switched off corresponding breakers or fuses, test receptacles for power before beginning your work. Electrical testing equipment you should have in your home includes, a test light, multimeter, and a non-contact voltage tester. Be sure to test out your equipment often to make sure it is operating properly.

6. Use corresponding colored wires. When rewiring outlets or other receptacles, try to use corresponding colors. Splicing different colors together can cause confusion and major issues down the road when you may need to make repairs or replace fixtures.

7. Never work in a wet area. If you are making repairs to electrical outside, in your basement, or near a flooded area of your home be sure the area where you are working is completely dry. Water is a strong conductor and one spark can cause electrocution.

8. Don’t swap out low amperage breakers for high amp. If you are having issues with constant breaker tripping, DO NOT attempt to remedy the issue by simply installing a higher rated breaker. If the proper amperage for a breaker is 20A, keep it a t 20A. By installing a higher amp breaker, you are not solving the issue; you are only masking the problem. Higher amperage flow can cause excessive heat which can result burnt or melted wiring.

9. Button up your work before stepping away. If you are in the middle of a project but must step away, make sure the exposed wires are insulated using electrical tape before leaving your work. This can prevent inadvertent shock to those unaware of the exposed wires.

10. Always check your work. Before switching on your breaker, check and recheck that the wiring is correct, also make sure all solders and connections are well insulated. Leaving even a minute amount of bare wire exposed can cause shorts and fires.

These simple, yet effective tips can help protect you and your home from electrical system repair-related accidents. Electricity is powerful and complicated so it is important to take serious care every time you attempt to make repairs or changes to the system.