Please don’t do your own home wiring

I know the saying, "Grandpa always said change one wire at a time and you won't make a mistake." Today that is not good advice and you can get hurt or damage your equipment. The last time that saying might have been okay was in the early 1990s. Prior to that time, things were relatively slow moving electronically speaking. Back in the early 1990s the most sophisticated thing we had was Nintendo Generation 1 and the original Discmans that played CDs and you hoped it wouldn't skip on you while you walked. Also, there wasn't internet on a big scale yet and home desktop computers cost several thousand dollars and nobody had a cell phone. Remember pagers and pay phones that cost a quarter?
Where am I going with this? To help explain, let me talk about a GFCI receptacle for a minute. You know the receptacles in the kitchen, bathroom, garage, and outdoors with the test buttons on them (example in the photo above). Yeah, those guys. I get hundreds of phone calls about these. Recently there was a change in the design that has fouled up do-it-yourselfers everywhere. GFCIs are large in physical size and do not fit in most electrical boxes well. So the manufacturers decided to make them skinnier front to back. The manufacturers call it Slimline or Slim Design. Where the problem comes in is on the back. If you take your old one and a new one, you will find where they say line and load—you will discover they are not in the same location. In fact, they are reversed.
Herein lies the potential problem with Grandpa's theory about replacing one wire at a time. If you use that theory in this case, you have successfully wired it backwards. The little green light on the front comes on showing it working, but the test buttons don't work!
This is one example of many. Today most things are rather complicated. How many functions does your current cell phone have? Of the hundreds of things it could do, most of us use 5-10 apps on it. Since the early 1990s code, which was in effect when I started in the industry, there have been literally thousands of code changes since then as our code books are updated every three years.
Please please please call a professional for help. I am happy to help you with your residential electrical needs.
Here are some interesting facts and statistics and tips about home electrical safety (from Electrical Safety Foundation International—ESFI):
Facts and Statistics
• Home electrical fires account for an estimated 51,000 fires each year, nearly 500 deaths, more than 1,400 injuries, and $1.3 billion in property damage.
• Electrical distribution systems are the third leading cause of home structure fires.
• Each year in the United States, arcing faults are responsible for starting more than 28,000 home fires, killing and injuring hundreds of people, and causing over $700 million in property damage.
• The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that electrical receptacles are involved in 5,300 fires every year, causing 40 deaths and more than 100 consumer injuries.
• Sixty-five percent of home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no working smoke detectors.
Electrical and Fire Safety Tips
• Have your home electrical system thoroughly inspected by qualified electricians to ensure that all electrical work in the home meets the safety provisions in the NEC.
• Install smoke detectors on every level of the home, inside each bedroom, and outside each sleeping area.
• Ask a qualified electrician if your home would benefit from AFCI protection, especially during inspections of older homes or upgrades to electrical systems. These advanced new safety devices recognize dangerous conditions that are not detected by standard breakers.
• Test smoke detectors and AFCIs monthly to ensure that they are working properly.
• Establish an evacuation plan that can be used in case of an emergency, and practice with your family.
• Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the light fixture.
• In homes with young children, install tamper resistant receptacles to prevent electrical shocks and burns.
• Conduct a basic assessment of your home electrical system, electrical cords, extension cords, power plugs, and outlets.
• Look for telltale signs of electrical problems such as dim and flickering lights, unusual sizzling and buzzing sounds from your electrical system, insulation and circuit breakers that trip repeatedly. Contact a qualified electrician immediately.
• Use extension cords only temporarily, and never with space heaters or air conditioners.

• Avoid overloading outlets. Consider having additional circuits or outlets added by a qualified electrician as needed. 

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Wednesday, 23 October 2019

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