There’s a great deal to think about when renovating your home – especially if you’re attempting to handle the bulk of the renovation by yourself. Aside from the basic design choices and planning, you also need to think seriously about the safety of you, your family, and others involved.
Roughly 13 million people are injured in the United States every year while repairing parts of their homes, and as many as 55,000 deaths are attributed to negligent DIY practices. Even simple home renovation elements can pose a threat if mishandled or poorly planned.
One of the most important elements to consider is your electrical wiring. Electrical hazards can be extremely dangerous and contribute to thousands of fires, hundreds of deaths, and many injuries every year.
If your renovation will have anything to do with electrical wiring and systems, you need to pay attention to the following electrical safety tips.
1. Figure Out What You’re Working With
Don’t throw yourself headlong into a big renovation before knowing how many amps your various electrical units will draw. Whether you’re installing a brand new chandelier or adding a media room projector, you’ll need to understand the voltage requirements.
Additionally, you’ll need to assess your current electrical wiring elements by checking for:
- The locations of internal wires
- Frayed cords
- Outlets that are too hot
- Flickering lights and other signs of an old system
We also recommend doing some research on California’s various electrical equipment safety regulations. Depending on where you live and what you plan to do in your home, you may need electrical permits from the state to tackle the project legally under local electrical safety standards.
2. Be Honest About Your Abilities
We live in an age where it’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ll just look it up on YouTube.” DIY-ing is great – but not when you underestimate the level of skill needed to tackle a potentially dangerous project.
Electrical skill isn’t something you can necessarily just pick up in a day, especially with at-home training and research.
Before you decide that rewiring the lights in the kitchen by yourself is a good idea, know that electricity isn’t something you should mess with if you’re inexperienced. It’s not worth saving money upfront and skimping on hiring an electrician, only to start an expensive home fire or jeopardize the safety of others.
Furthermore, electrocution is a real possibility. If you’re at all nervous that you don’t know enough about working with wires, we strongly recommend that you consider hiring an electrician. Electrical safety at home should never be taken lightly.
3. Be Extremely Aware of Moisture
If there are two things that just don’t mix, it’s water and electricity. Even just a little bit of moisture combined with an electrical current can lead to serious property damage, injuries, and even death.
When renovating kitchens or bathrooms, you’ll need to pay close attention to dampness or moisture that could come into contact with exposed wires. Watch carefully to ensure no water comes near electrical systems, and keep the entire area well-ventilated with fans and open windows.
You’ll also want to look into Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs). These are special receptacles that shut off power to appliances as soon as they come into contact with water. This is arguably the safest way to maintain electrical safety around the home, both before and after renovations.
Many homes come standard with GFCIs nowadays, but if you’re updating an older house, you may need to install some, especially in bathrooms, garages, crawl spaces, basements, and kitchens – anywhere that has a sink and other water sources in it.
4. Watch Out for Old Wiring
Was your house built more than 50 years ago? If so, there’s a good chance you’re looking at rewiring the entire system as an electrical safety precaution.
Appliances nowadays have higher power demands, and if your wires are too old, they might not be able to handle them. Additionally, all professional electricians will tell you that old wiring insulation degrades over time, which increases your risk of electrical fires.
Don’t assume that electrical fires are just rare, freak accidents. Electrical failures or malfunctions have been the second leading cause of U.S. home fires in previous years, according to the National Fire Protection Association. They’re more common most think, and they can happen to anyone if they don’t take proper electrical safety precautions at home.
Unfortunately, rewiring a house will cost you a pretty penny – usually at least a couple thousand dollars , according to Thumbtack’s assessments. Still, the upfront cost of rewiring your house pales in comparison to the cost of starting over should your house burn to the ground.
You’ll need to have a trusted electrician visit your home and assess the state and age of the wires before starting any major overhauls. They’ll be able to give you a better cost estimate for rewiring based on the size of the home, the number of rooms that need to be rewired, and the current state of the electrical system.
5. Expect Power Outages
Lastly, whether you hire the help of an electrician or not, you’ll likely need to deal with power outages during your home renovation projects. Power always needs to be cut off when you’re doing ANY kind of electrical work.
Some home renovation projects last for a few weeks. Others can stretch over the course of several months. If you want to minimize the disruption to you and your family’s lives, you’ll need to understand that even simple renovation tasks can sometimes result in the total or partial loss of power at times.
This can make things like cooking, cleaning, and bathing difficult. Additionally, if the power is out for long periods of time, the CDC states that you should :
- Ensure your family stays warm/cool enough
- Throw away food that could go bad in the fridge and freezer
- Avoid using tools that could contribute to carbon monoxide poisoning within the home, such as pressure washers, grills, or generators
To minimize the risks and discomfort, we recommend that you strategize your renovation projects to work with your family’s schedule. Try to time the outages when they’ll be the least disruptive – perhaps while you’re out of town, or at least while the kids and other adults are away at school or work.
If there’s a lot of electrical work to be done, such as in the case of a total home rewire, you may want to consider booking a hotel for the worst parts of the project.
A Final Word
There’s a lot more to consider than just the electrical safety tips included in this list, but keeping these safety tips in mind is a great place to start with any renovation.
Of course, if you really want to alleviate your risks, it’s always a smart idea to hire a professional electrician to at least oversee the work, if not handle the most dangerous parts for you.
At OMG Kitchens, we have decades of experience overseeing bathroom and kitchen renovations – including the electrical components. Our electrical repair service team is thoroughly trained to do more than provide tips for electrical safety at home, including:
- Wiring and rewiring
- Installing new electronics and lights
- Handling sensitive equipment and data
- Bringing buildings up to the latest electrical codes
If you need help assessing safety requirements for electrical equipment in a renovation, or if you want us to get the job done right the first time, contact our electrical repair services today. Call 949-380-9664 or book your consultation online.