Do-it-yourself (DIY) projects are a great way to save money. They can also be extremely rewarding. There’s a sense of pride that comes from accomplishing a job yourself.
Many electrical projects fall into the DIY category. Projects like installing ceiling fans, lighting fixtures or appliances are fairly easy and do not require a large investment in tools. Before you begin your project, here are a few DIY tips to keep you S-A-F-E.
Know your limitations. The first rule of DIY safety is this: don’t do it yourself if you aren’t qualified for the job. Unless you are familiar with the basics of electrical wiring, turn electrical projects over to a licensed electrician. As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry—and keeping you safe is our primary goal.
Turn off the power. Even 120 volts can be deadly. Always turn off the power to the circuit that you will be working on. To do this, locate your main service panel and turn off the circuit breaker. It’s also a good idea to take some time and label all the breakers so you can identify them quickly.
Remember, there are wires behind those walls. Even if you’re not working on an electrical project, you need to keep electrical safety in mind. Before you cut or drill into a wall or ceiling, be conscious of how deep you’re cutting or drilling to avoid hitting wires. Even if you have the circuit turned off, cutting into wires can create a fire hazard when you turn the power back on.
Use GFCI protectors if you’re going to be using extension cords. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) are devices designed to protect you from electrical shock. When using extension cords, use a GFCI outlet or GFCI whip, a short extension cord with a built-in GFCI protector. These aren’t expensive, and they can save your life.
In addition to turning off circuits and using GFCI protectors, here are a few more precautions you can take to prevent injury.
• Wear gloves and safety glasses.
• Use tools with insulated grips when working on electrical projects.
• Even if you’re just changing light bulbs in a lamp or appliance, you should always make sure it’s unplugged.
• Avoid working where water is present. Do not work on electrical systems in wet locations. And never work on electrical systems in the rain.
• Choose fiberglass ladders. Because aluminum ladders conduct electricity, you should never use them for electrical projects. Instead, purchase a quality fiberglass ladder.
• Use rubber-soled shoes or rubber mats, particularly on concrete floors.
At West Florida Electric Cooperative, your safety is our top priority. Be sure to follow these tips and guidelines to make sure your next project ends with a satisfied smile. Let’s power safety!