There are several reasons a person might want to install new power outlets or switches in their home or commercial building. In older homes, the number of outlets may be inadequate for today’s electrical needs, or they may be in inconvenient spots.
Perhaps the house has undergone some renovations or rearranging and new switches and outlets just make sense. Another reason is that the wiring is old and the outlets spark, putting expensive electronics in jeopardy.
Regardless of why you might want to install new outlets or switches, there are a few things to know before you attempt the electrical job if you are planning on doing it on your own.
Disclaimer: This is not a manual on what to do or how to do it, and if you have questions, call a professional.
The first thing to pay attention to when it comes to electrical work (or any work around the home) is your personal safety. Electrical safety includes adequate knowledge, the proper tools, and ample patience so if you are lacking any of these, again, call a professional.
If you are ready to start working, ensure that the breaker is off and there is no electrical current running to that area of the house before anything is disassembled or attempted.
Here are some other helpful tips to help ensure electrical safety at home:
- If you are dealing with outlets, it is important to be aware that each of the plugins might be connected to different circuits of your home’s electrical system. Test to make sure that both outlets are inactive before moving ahead.
- When installing a new outlet, make sure you do not reverse the hot and neutral wires. This could lead to a potentially harmful sho Pay close attention while you’re working because even if you do reverse them, lights and most devices may still work, they just won’t work safely.
- Give yourself an extra wire length. Wires that are cut too short will make connections difficult and can result in poor and dangerous connections. Leave at least three inches of wire protruding from the box during installation.
- Don’t install a 3-slot outlet without a ground. Older plug-ins might be two-pronged and you could be tempted to go in and simply replace it with a 3-pronged, but don’t do this before you use a tester to see if the outlet is grounded. Testers are inexpensive and readily available.
- Finish the job correctly. We have seen poorly finished jobs where a new outlet or switch is installed and wires are hastily tucked inside or the receptacle is left bare. Make sure the wires are properly capped and neatly stored and that you have installed a properly sized plate.
Replacing or installing a new power outlet or switch is a DIY jobs that seems really simple, and there are plenty of videos online that seem like all it takes is a snap of the fingers. But sometimes it’s the “easy” projects that become the biggest headaches.
For any and all electrical jobs, big and small, don’t hesitate to call an electrician professional. Electrical safety should only be done if it can be safely done.