Electricity is dangerous. Even avid do-it-yourselfers and experienced handy-men should not attempt to take on electrical wiring jobs on their own. What’s the worst that could happen? You could have a short circuit and burn your house down or you could electrocute yourself. Electrical wiring jobs should be left for professional, certified master electricians.
A certified electrician has the training, experience and certification for installing complex wiring, circuits, panels and sub-panels. Master electricians are the only licensed contractors that can sign off on building permits and codes. If you have your electrical work done by an unlicensed hired handy-man, or even attempt to do it yourself, you might compromise getting insurance on your home. If there is not the appropriate insurance to cover your project, most homeowner’s policies will not cover any mishaps caused by an unlicensed contractor.
Mike Holmes from Holmes Makes it Right discourages homeowners from attempting electrical wiring projects in blog post “Mike Holmes on Electrical Dangers“.
“There’s nothing wrong with homeowners trying small projects, like repairing drywall or maybe even a backsplash. But electrical wiring is never DIY. Period. …But unfortunately, too many homeowners think they can do their own rewiring. In Ontario, it’s about 75 percent–that’s alarming. If you mess up a tiling job, the worst that can happen is water damage and potentially mould. But if you mess up electrical wiring, you can cause short circuits, electrical fires—heck, you can kill yourself! Is that really worth saving a couple hundred dollars? I’ll tell you, nothing is worth that.”
Holmes continues to warn homeowners of tell-tale signs they could have electrical problems lurking behind the walls. Warning signs include:
- Flickering lights
- Breakers that always trip
- Fuses that always blow
- A burning smell coming from appliances or in rooms
- Discoloured wall outlets
- Outlets that spark
- Outlets and switches that are hot to the touch
According to the most recent data from the National Fire Protection Association,there was an annual average of 47,820 home fires that involved electrical malfunction or failure between 2007-2011. These fires resulted in 455 civilian deaths, 1,518 civilian injuries and $1.5 billion in direct property damage.
In Canada, 20 percent are due to electrical fires. Faulty wiring is the number one cause of electrical fires. Sometimes it is due to age, wear and tear and sometimes it’s due to poor workmanship.
Most homeowners do not know what kind of electrical work was done before they moved in or if it was done by a professional. This is especially true if you own an older home that has a DIY finished basement. We have heard many horror stories of homeowners tearing down the old 1970s wood paneling in their basement to discover massive balls of electrical wire or burn marks on the framing.
If you see warning signs of shoddy electrical work in your home you should call a licensed electrical contractor right away. The longer you wait to get it fixed the more you are putting your home and your safety at risk. Holmes suggests that if your home is older than 15 years you need to bring in a licensed electrician to inspect the wiring, especially if the home has a finished basement.
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