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Expert Contributor

The United States is serious about electrical codes and the sale of electrical components. 

Ask your insurance company about Underwriting Laboratories (UL) listings. Any UL violations when electrical damages occur can affect insurance claims. Most states require electricians to be licensed and a local inspector must inspect the work.


DIY Electrical Projects

Two common electrical questions are: do I need an electrician? and why? Homeowners doing a DIY electrical project need to check the building and electrical regulations. Even the smallest projects like changing outlets or installing lights have the potential for damage to the home. When dealing with wires, what looks like an easy task could turn into a short circuit.

Here are a couple of safety tips:

  • Take the time to learn about your home's electrical structure and systems.
  • Turn the power off and test the wires before you touch them.


Electrical Grounding Codes

Rooms in which appliances and people are near water require a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet to prevent electric shock. The GFCI is a safety device that shuts off the electricity if the outlet becomes ungrounded. When this happens, the electricity travels back to the electrical panel, tripping the circuit breaker. It prevents the person from coming in contact with the electrical current causing a serious injury.

If the DIYer asks how not to get electrocuted, the answer is simple. Turn off the power and hire a licensed electrician. 


Basic Safety

Below are signs a licensed electrician needs to look at your electrical systems.

  • Even though two-pronged outlets are grandfathered, it is a good idea to replace them with three-prong grounded outlets. This increases the home's safety and prevents electric shocks.
  • Flickering lights could be a problem with the electrical panel, caused by too many appliances plugged into a single circuit.
  • Electric panels should never be hot to the touch. Aging wiring and panels could be code violations.
  • Walk through your home and touch the outlets. If they are warm, there could be problems waiting. Heat is a sign the wiring is loose or not up to code. 


Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers can be a nuisance. The reality is they protect your home from serious electrical problems. Always turn off power to a circuit by flipping the appropriate circuit breaker in the main service panel. 

Three causes for tripping the breaker are:

  • Overloaded circuit: Too many appliances are plugged into the same circuit. When an appliance overheats, it overloads the circuit. The appliance could be an air conditioner or heating system.
  • Short Circuit: This situation is dangerous. It deals with wires creating heat.
  • Ground Fault: You are dealing with wires again. The black wire may be touching the ground wire. 


Fire Extinguishers

Fire extinguishers are classified according to the type of fire they extinguish. Electrical fire extinguishers are rated "C."  Every home should have one, with a designated family member trained to use it properly.



Safety tip for DIY: never take on a project above your skill level. Like it or not, there are times when professionals need to work the project. If you are going to attempt a DIY project, take the time to learn about the existing electrical system. Always turn off the power and unplug appliances before working with it.


Iris M. writes blog content for real estate; research, region and community information for the purpose of providing information to the reader, helping them with decisions when selecting a home. She writes content on a variety of subjects, pertaining to client specifics, industry related, research and informative studies, including "how to" for mass market and social media.