It’s easy to understand why people are reluctant to call a professional electrician. After all, an electrical contractor isn’t cheap. So if you can do something yourself paying only for the materials and parts you need, then why not? Besides, if you need help there are scores of do-it-yourself books, websites and instructional videos out there draw upon. But while we understand the impulse to take matters into your own hands there are some instances when nothing but a licensed electrician will do. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
4 Instances When You’ll Need an Electrical Contractor
With the number of DIY books and videos out there these days taking electrical work into your own hands may seem like a no-brainer. But there are some instances when you will need the services of a licensed electrician. Here are 4 of them:
Any Electrical Panel Work – The electrical panel is where the power grid meets your house. Tinkering with it in any way is an extremely dangerous thing to do. And trying to make any changes to the panel yourself is even more dangerous. The electrical panel distributes power from the grid and routes it through the circuit breakers and on to the various circuits in the house. Any mistakes with anything related to the electrical panel could cause dangerous faults or catastrophic electrical fires. Always enlist the services of an electrical contractor for any work related to the electrical panel.
Installing new wiring – Let’s say you’ve just added a deck to your home and want to run wiring out to it. You’ve got your “Wiring made easy” book, pliers and a nice sunny Saturday afternoon to do the work. What could go wrong? Plenty. First off, it’s unlikely you’ll get everything right and that could lead to shocks, short circuits and fires. Second, everything you do will need to comply with local building codes. Do you know what those are? Because if you install wiring yourself and the inspector rejects it (which is likely) you’ll need to strip it out and start all over again. Also, if a fire results from your DIY wiring job your insurance company will not pay 1 penny in restitution.
Installing electrical outlets – There are any number of DIY resources available that make installing electrical outlets seem like a walk in the park. But the fact is that an improperly installed outlet can result in a short circuit that damages your expensive appliances or causes a devastating house fire. Moreover, if you switch off the wrong breaker you could receive a painful shock when you go to work on the outlet. Power outlets are not something to be trifled with. Make sure you always call the electrician for anything related to the outlets.
Installing lighting fixtures – With some lighting fixtures all you have to do is plug them in and turn them on. Others though need to be wired directly into the local circuit. While it might seem like a pretty straightforward job to hang a new light over the kitchen table all it takes is one little mistake and you’ll be jolted off the ladder to the floor. Or perhaps you get through the installation without incident but the wire nuts you used fall off a few days later. One of the exposed wires then hits the metal plate causing a short circuit and fire.
Bonus Round – Let’s say all this talk about hiring an electrician or electrical contractor is getting you down. But you’ve got a new workshop out back that’s in need of power. A lightbulb goes off over your head and you decide you’ll avoid potential problems and potential expenses by just running a heavy duty extension cord out to the workshed to provide power. Easy. Right? Wrong. Using an extension cord as a primary source of power for a space is illegal. If the insurance company finds out they may cancel your homeowner’s insurance. And if the city finds out they’ll demand you remove the cord and hire an electrical contractor to wire the new workshop properly.
The reasons to call the electrician are many but boil down to a few essential facts
- DIY wiring runs the risk of short circuits and fires.
- Building codes exist for a reason and must be complied with.
- Installing your own wiring may result in the cancellation of your homeowner’s insurance.
- Even small mistakes can have potentially fatal consequences.
Why use a licensed electrician? Because your house, your quality of life, your life itself and the lives of your loved ones are more important than trying to save a few bucks. If you feel a need to exercise your DIY muscles try installing some new tiles in the bathroom and leave the dangerous electrical work to the pros.