Common DIY Electrical Mistakes

If you consider yourself a DIY pro capable of handling any home remodeling project – including those involving electrical work – we encourage you to read today’s home improvement article, where we discuss some common electrical mistakes homeowners and do-it-yourself handymen tend to make. You don’t want to miss this shocking post!

Handyman Electrical Mistakes to Avoid

As seasoned DIYers, sometimes homeowners take for granted the amount of education and real-world experience licensed electricians bring to the table. What may seem like a simple electrical fix for a “handyman” may, in fact, become a major issue if not handled properly. In simple cases, the below electrical mistakes can lead to flickering lights or outages. In worst case scenarios, they can turn tragic and costly in terms of human loss and property damage.

If you have the slightest doubt about how to handle an electrical project, or have never undertaken the specific one you are considering, we strongly urge you to contact a licensed electrician to perform the job for you.

With that caveat in place, here is a list of some common electrical mistakes DIY homeowners often make!

Using the Wrong Wattage

While this may not be considered “electrical work” from a technical perspective, it is still a common – and potentially hazardous – mistake that homeowners tend to make. The lights in your chandelier and lighting fixture go out and you run to the market to grab some new bulbs. You randomly pick a high wattage light bulb, thinking you would like a little more light in the room.

This might seem like no big deal, but in reality, it can cause a fire in the home. The issue stems from the fact that high wattage bulbs use more electricity and burn hotter than lower wattage bulbs. Sockets have wattage limits (you can find the max near the socket) and while the bulb you put in may work, if the watts are too high, the base of the light socket can overheat, as it wasn’t designed to handle the higher temperature. If this happens, a fire could break out.

Always use the proper wattage when installing new bulbs!

Short Wiring and Wiring Gauge

Two all too common issue we find with electrical wiring work undertaken by nonprofessionals has to do with size. For starters, cutting wires too short makes the job that much more difficult. It also is hazardous and sloppy. Always make sure your wires extend at least 3 inches from the box. If you use a connector to extend the wire, be sure to tighten the connector screws enough. You want a solid, secure connection.

Another wiring issue has to do with wire rating. A DIYer plans on adding an outlet or additional circuit and uses a wire that handles less amps than the breaker or fuse they are adding it to. This is a huge no-no. Always check the rating and never guess or assume that the amperage is the same.

Avoid Overloading

Overloading occurs when a homeowner plugs too many electrical devices or appliances into an outlet, leading to an electrical overload. Any given circuit is only designed to handle so many amps, and each device you plug in eats up some of that allotment. Plugging in too many appliances can cause an overload and is a fire hazard. Skip the temptation to plug a bunch of items into a power strip – or worse – piggyback a power strip onto another power strip. If you find yourself needing more outlets, hire a licensed electrician to install some for you – the minimal cost is well worth the added safety!