If ever you are considering making repairs to an electrical system or appliance, the first thing to consider is safety. Unlike plumbing or carpentry, where mistakes usually cause property damage alone, electrical tasks can easily cause death. Electricity is extremely dangerous. If you have any doubts about your abilities whatsoever, you should call a professional.
In general there are a few basic rules that apply to whether or not you should call a professional to repair or install electrical devices.
Thanks to the internet, it is fairly easy to learn everything that you need to know in order to repair minor issues or install basic devices. YouTube.com is an excellent source of video tutorials and should be able to teach a complete novice how to deal with minor projects.
Larger projects that involve cutting or installing wires within a building should always be left to the professionals. These projects include anything that requires wiring to be accessed through the walls of a building.
If there is a minor issue like a blown light bulb, it is possible for a novice to repair it. If the problem persists however, it could indicate an underlying issue like faulty wiring. All issues that come up constantly should be inspected and repaired by a professional.
Any electrical work that falls under the jurisdiction of electrical compliance must be done by a certified professional. No professional will sign off on work that they did not do. If you repair wiring in your home that must be certified, it will be impossible for you to get the certification. Without the certification, you will not be able to sell or rent your property. If there is an accident, caused by your faulty wiring, you will be held liable.
When should I repair something myself?
There are many benefits to repairing your own electrical devices. It is cheaper, takes little time and is generally more convenient. This only applies if you are adequately prepared. If you make any mistakes, it could easily end up costing you more to have them repaired than it would have if you had called a professional in the first place.
To prepare for an electrical project, always make sure that you have the correct protective equipment, proper tools to do the job and enough reference material to guide you.
Here are some examples of simple projects you could do yourself:
- Replacing lightbulbs. Make sure that you turn off the power to the light to begin. Once you remove the faulty bulb, make sure that your replacement is the correct type and voltage. Having the wrong type of bulb in a fitting can cause the power to trip and the new bulb to break.
- Installing certain fixtures, like new light switches. As with the light bulbs, make sure that you turn off the power to the room you are working in. You can use a screw driver to remove the old switch casing and install the new one quite easily.
- Repairing basic appliances. If the plug on an appliance is damaged or the wiring is exposed, it is quite simple to replace the plug itself. The wiring of the new plug will depend on the manufacturer and the region you are in. For example, plugs in London are very different to plugs in New York.
Trying to fix more complex appliances like TVs or gaming consoles should be left to professionals. There are many small components in these devices that can cause damage to them if they are tampered with.
When should I call a professional?
If you are ever in a situation where you would need a professional, make sure to verify their certification. If they have a fake licence, they will not be able to give you the certification needed to sell a house they have made repairs in. It is also important to verify that they are professionals in order to make sure they have the skills needed to complete the job.
Any work that could impact the safety of a building should be done by a professional. This would include installations that are at risk of coming into contact with water, structural repairs and any jobs that are related to the public power grid, like working on a circuit breaker. A few examples of high risk jobs would be:
- Installing additional wall outlets. Because the outlets are connected to the main electrical grid, there is a high risk of electrocution if they are not installed correctly.
- Outdoor lighting. Any lights that are exposed to the elements pose a safety risk. There is a chance that rain water could come into contact with live wires if they are not installed correctly.
- Any work done on a circuit breaker. Because electrical boxes are connected to the public power grid, they should only ever be repaired by certified electricians. If a novice damages one, it can affect everyone connected to their grid.