The current economic downturn has inspired more homeowners to tackle do-it-yourself projects than ever before. Faced with declining home values and aging properties, homeowners in some cases may choose not to pay for the services of a licensed electrician.

However, most of us don’t have the training or experience needed to safely perform electrical work, which increases the risk of injury and electrocution and potentially introduces new dangers. Working with electricity requires thorough planning and extreme care—cutting corners can be a costly mistake.

For example, electrical outlets cause nearly 4,000 injuries every year. And each year, more than 19,700 people are hurt by ceiling fans that are improperly mounted or incorrectly sized.

The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) strongly recommends hiring a qualified, licensed electrician to perform electrical work in your home. However, if you decide to do it yourself, consider the following important safety tips:

  • Make an effort to learn about your home electrical system so that you can safely navigate and maintain it.
  • Never attempt a project that is beyond your skill level. Knowing when to call a professional may help prevent electrical fires, injuries, and fatalities.
  • Always turn off the power to the circuit that you plan to work on by switching off the circuit breaker in the main service panel.
  • Be sure to unplug any lamp or appliance before working on it.
  • Test the wires before you touch them to make sure that the power has been turned off.
  • Never touch plumbing or gas pipes when performing a do-it-yourself electrical project.

IMPORTANT: A license is not required for an owner of property performing work on the owner’s principal residence, if such residence is an existing dwelling rather than new construction and is not larger than a single-family dwelling, or farm property. New construction of a dwelling would require the electrical work to be performed by a licensed electrician. An inspection would be required for all new electrical installation regardless of whether a license is required.

For more tips on treating electricity with care in the home and workplace, visit www.esfi.org.

Source: Electrical Safety Foundation International

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