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The Perils of Doing Electrical DIY

Posted by Michaela Elcoat on 13th December 2016

When something needs fixing within the home, we can all hold our hands up admit we’ve attempted to tackle some form of DIY. Nowadays, many people turn to YouTube or Google for advice or demonstrations on how to correct or change electrical items. Not only does this pose a danger to DIYer’s when doing the job, it could also lead to problems once they think they’ve changed or installed an electrical item ‘properly’.

Whilst doing a simple like for like change seems completely harmless there are often things which if done incorrectly can pose a serious risk. They may not be immediately obvious but after time they can cause faults, fires and leave you wishing you had spent money and got a professional to do the job. Here’s our list below: 

1. Overtightening screws

If you overtighten or squash the copper, the connection could snap off or create a dangerous hotspot, potentially causing a fire risk. 

2. Changing a socket outlet

There’s plenty of people who do this in their home, and they may come across problems when doing so. For example the wires may not be long enough for the new connections in the replacement sockets. This could lead to the DIYer making bad connections or over-extending and stretching cables which puts stress on the connection itself, when this happens, the connection could potentially pull itself out.

3. Light switches

If you have existing fittings that are plastic, they’re electrically insulated. If you change from plastic to a metallic fronted (brushed steel) switch there may not be adequate earthing or any earthing at all. This in turn could cause a nasty shock to someone turning the lights on and off.

4. Drilling into cables

This happens even when you aren’t attempting any electrical DIY. When hanging pictures, paintings or ornaments onto a wall it’s so important to use a good quality cable detector to establish where the cables are running. Drilling through a cable or cables, will not only cause you a nasty shock you can also cause an electrical fault throughout the rest of the house.  Yes the cables should run in line with any sockets, but how can you be sure? It’s always best to be safe than sorry.

5. Light fittings

Depending on the light fitting, you may need to re-terminate cables neatly, which is the point where the DIYer may forget which cable goes where. Again, the cables could be too short for the new fitting causing over stretching and strain. 

6. Non-fused double or triple adaptors

These days most plug adapters are fused so this probably won’t be an issue. However, if you are connecting anything to a double or triple adapter you should make sure that it is fused. If you have found an old 3 way plug adapter in the loft make sure you double check it before plugging everything in. If you are constantly running multiple appliances from these adapters it is highly recommended that you consider getting some proper sockets installed.

7. Not Safely Isolating

Above all else, the most important thing to remember when working on any electrics is to ensure it is safely isolated! Many people make this mistake before they have even started a job. Failure to do so could result in a very nasty shock.

Although these DIY amends seem pretty simple hopefully you can now see why it is always best to leave any electrical changes to a qualified electrician. This way, people know the changes are up to regulation standards and are safe. You will also avoid any future electrical problems within the home.

To seek advice from a qualified electrician today visit the NICEIC website.

Categories: diy, electrician, registered electrician