It is quite tempting to do the small electrical work at home on your own. Since you are not a professional electrician, this can lead you to numerous mistakes. Let’s take a look at few common mistakes that you could make. Make sure to fix these mistakes if you want to avoid any accidents, such as electrical shocks or fires at home.
Placing the electrical boxes behind the surface of wall
If your wall is made out of wood or any other combustible material, you must never place any electrical boxes behind wall surfaces. This can lead you to a fire hazard. That’s because the electrical connections can expose combustible surfaces to sparks and heat.
To overcome such situations, you should think about installing plastic or metal box extensions. If you are using a metal box extension, you need to connect it to the ground via grounding clip and some wires.
Installation of cables without clamps
If you don’t secure the cables, you will end up with straining the connections. For example, sharp edges in metal boxes can cut insulation of wires. This is why you need to install clamps. There is no need to install internal cable clamps for single plastic boxes. However, you should staple the cable within 8 inches of the box. The bigger plastic boxes usually come with in-built clamps. You need to use them and staple the cable within 12 inches in the box. Make sure that you use approved cable clamps to connect the cables to metal boxes at all times.
When installing clamps, you need to make sure that the sheathing of cables is properly trapped under them. Around ¼ inches of sheathing should be visible within the box. If your metal box comes with clamps, you should take full advantage of them. Or else, you need to buy clamps separately and install.
Overfilling your electrical boxes
If your electrical boxes are too small, you will tend to overfill them. This can eventually lead the boxes to short-circuits, overheating, and even fire. This is why you need to get appropriately sized boxes. Here’s a quick guide that you can follow to pick the correct sized box.
- Get one inch electrical box for each neutral wire and hot wire that enters into the box.
- Get one inch electrical box to combine all ground wires.
- Get one inch electrical box to combine all cable clamps
- Get two inches electrical box for each device.
You will need to multiply the total number of electrical boxes by 2 for the 14-guage wires. Likewise, you should multiply by 2.25 for 12-guage wires. Then you will figure out the minimum size of the electrical box that you need in cubic inches.
It is also important to keep in mind that plastic electrical boxes have stamped volume in the inside. Likewise, the steel electrical boxes won’t come with any labelling. Therefore, you will need to take measurements and calculate the volume.
Reversing neutral and hot wires
If you mistakenly connect the black colored hot wire to the neutral terminal, you will end up with a lethal shock. You might not realize this until someone ends up with a shock. That’s because the lights and other appliances connected to the outlet will work.
When you are installing, you should clearly identify what the neutral terminal is. Then you need to connect the white colored wire to the neutral terminal. You can usually identify the neutral terminal as it comes with a light-coloured screw. It will usually be a silver screw. Then you need to connect the hot wire to the other terminal. If you see a bare or green copper wire, it will be the ground. You should connect the ground to green colored grounding screw or to your ground wire.
Failing to wire GFCI correctly
GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets can help you to stay away from lethal shock by shutting off power upon the sense of a difference in current levels. However, you should make sure that you don’t connect GFCI backward.
When connecting power to the terminals, you will figure out that there are two terminal pairs. Out of them, one will be labelled as line. This is for the incoming power of your GFCI outlet. The other pair labelled as load can provide protection for your downstream outlets. If you mix up these two lines, you will end up losing shock protection.
Always keep these DIY electrical mistakes in mind when you work on a project. If you feel that you can’t fix it on your own, the best thing you can do is to seek expert assistance.