Common Electrical Mistakes Homeowners Make, Part 1

Most mistakes are minor. Sure, they can cost a little money or waste a little time, but they usually can’t really hurt you. Electrical mistakes, on the other hand, can cause fires, shocks or electrocutions. That’s why you really want to avoid common electrical mistakes like these.

In this blog, we’ll explain the common electrical mistakes anyone can make and how to avoid them. In Part II, we’ll share mistakes you should avoid specifically while you’re working on an electrical project. Let’s get started. These seven mistakes are common, serious, and seriously avoidable:

7. Overloading Your Outlets

If your outlet looks like the head of Medusa, you have too many plugs. All those plugs won’t turn you to stone, but they can increase the risk of an electrical fire. If you have enough outlets, you can reduce this danger by using one outlet for each plug.

The problem is, most older homes don’t have all the outlets you need. Back when your home was built, no one imagined how much power we’d use today. If you feel like you don’t have enough outlets, you should consider having an electrician add more.

6. Using The Wrong Wattage

If you use high-wattage light bulbs in sockets that can’t handle the power, the bulbs can get extremely hot. All that heat can melt or damage the wires inside the fixture.

Check your fixtures and make sure you never go above for the maximum wattage they support.

5. Using The Wrong Extension Cord

If you use an outdoor extension cord for any reason, make sure that cord is rated for outdoor use. You can safely use the cord outside if it has the designation letter W.

4. Having Unstable Outlets

Sometimes, outlets are unstable. Over time, outlets may move around, creating a risk for their wires to become loose and overheat. Unfortunately, that overheating can create a fire hazard. So, when you move in to a new house, inspect each and every outlet. If the casings are loose, tighten the screws and, if needed, use spacer tools to stabilize the outlet.

3. Not Using GFCI Outlets

GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) monitors the power used in one outlet. If the GFCI detects a slight variation, it will turn off the power to prevent electrocution. Install GFCI outlets near water sources especially. They’re important to use in bathrooms, kitchens, porches, patios, garages, sheds, unfinished basements, and laundry rooms, and more. GFCIs can be literal life savers–but only if you use them!

Learn more about GFCI outlets in the blog “The outlet with the buttons isn’t working, now what?

2. Replacing Original Fuses With Cheaper Ones

Today, most homes have breakers that “flip” or switch off when there is an energy surge. This prevents fires, shocks and electrocution. Unfortunately, however, some older homes still use fuses that burn out when the power surges.

When it’s time to replace a fuse, using a cheap, generic fuse increases your risk of dangerous energy spikes. Use the best fuses available instead.

1. Using Old Wires When Installing New Appliances

Technically, this one probably belongs in Part 2, but that one’s a little long and this one’s a little short. New appliances tend to run hotter than old ones. Often, when you install a new fixture, it can overheat or overload your old wiring. Today’s lights are built to withstand 90 degrees Celsius, for example, while old wires are rated for just 60 degrees Celsius.

When you install new appliances, you should consider rewiring the entire circuit at the same time. You could also ask your electrician if a splice box can safely connect the new light fixture to the old wiring. That would save you some money and keep you safe.

Avoiding these common mistakes will not guarantee safety, but it will make you safer. It’s always a good idea to check your system and see if you’re making any of these mistakes. After all, your home and your family’s safety is at stake.

If you have more questions about electrical safety or need some help making your own home safe, give Early Bird a call anytime. Our licensed experts are always ready and willing to solve your electrical problems.