There are many things you can do yourself around the home, like painting over that hideous living room wall color or installing kitchen cabinets. However, when it comes to electricity, it’s always best to leave this to a pro—but that doesn’t mean you can’t be curious. Having an idea of the most common problems puts you ahead of the curve and helps you to know what a reputable electrician plans on doing.
The number one issue is wire terminations/junctions which are installed improperly. Maybe it was done that way by a subpar electrician (or a brave DIYer), or maybe it became that way due to lack of maintenance. When two wires meet, this “junction” has to be enclosed and nutted in a junction box. Where a wire stops, or terminates, also needs to be enclosed and nutted. It doesn’t matter i it’s live or not, because a shock could occur years down the road. Here are a few other common issues your home might be facing.
An Improper Burial
When wiring is buried underground, it needs to be done safely. Only certain wiring works with direct burial and these require rigid conduits. If you hit a conduit accidentally, you’ll know right away (and the hard way) that there’s a burial there. While it keeps you from breaking wiring and getting a shock, hitting a conduit with something like a hammer is a firm reminder that you have indeed hit a shallow grave.
Then there are ungrounded receptacles. Back in the 1970s, there were massive changes to electrical codes as the 3-wire grounded receptacles were introduced. A grounding conductor is meant to house electricity safely until it’s discharged properly—it’s what saves your appliances during a surge. Before the 60s, only 2-wire receptacles were used but you can’t just swap a 2-wire for a 3-wire and hope for the best. Proper wiring is required, and if it’s not done right, you’ve got ungrounded receptacles that aren’t keeping you or your appliances safe.
Gone AWOL and Dirty Fixes
Sometimes the problem is that you’re missing wire bushings or clamps completely. Clamps are required to keep wiring from damage and abrasion. A garbage disposal really shakes things up and can cut through insulation—but a clamp keeps that from happening. This helps prevent a shock by keeping it clear of junction boxes or metal chassis.
Finally, there’s the overabundance of extension cords which everyone knows are risky business, but take a gamble with anyway. These can be great tools in moderation, kind of like alcohol, but depend on them too heavily and you’re asking for trouble. These aren’t a permanent wiring solution, but a qualified electrician can always add new receptacles almost anywhere you’d like. That’s a much smarter and safer approach, not to mention that the trip hazards won’t come into play.
No matter what type of wiring problems you’re facing, finding out more information is great—but still leave the work to the pros. Otherwise, you might be in for the shock of your life (and not in a good way).