DIY Electrical Work Risks and Hazards
September 01, 2017
Home-improvement stores, online videos and television shows have inspired millions of homeowners to tackle home repairs by themselves. Such do-it-yourself projects are fun and can generate personal satisfaction when the job is well done. Plus, they might even save you some money.
But there are risks and hazards when it comes to electrical work, from electrocution to electrical fires. Let’s be honest: electrical work is more dangerous than building a cabinet, replacing a water fixture or fixing a fence.
Consider these statistics, courtesy of Electrical Safety Foundation International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting electrical safety at home and in the workplace:
- There are 70 electrocution fatalities associated with consumer products on average per year.
- The most recent data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that there are nearly 400 electrocutions in the United States each year.
- Approximately 15% of electrocutions are related to consumer products. Wiring hazards, including damaged or exposed wiring and household wiring, accounted for nearly 14% of these deaths.
- An estimated 360,900 residential building fires are reported to United States fire departments each year and caused an estimated 2,495 deaths, 13,250 injuries and $7 billion in property losses. The leading cause of the largest fires was electrical malfunction.
- Electrical failure accounted for 89% of electrical fires in residential buildings from 2003 to 2005.
These are just some of the reasons why it’s essential to hire a professional electrician who is well trained to spot potential problems and make repairs that will keep you and your family safe.
An ounce of prevention
The U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission recommends a safety inspection of your home by a qualified electrician or licensed electrical inspector.
You might be surprised to find out that your home hasn’t been inspected since it was built. To find out when your home was last inspected, check the label or tag on the door of your home’s electrical panel.
Commission studies of residential fires have found that the majority of serious fires need not have occurred if an inspection had been performed. This is especially important for older homes when building codes were different. An inspection is highly recommended.
The commission publishes a helpful home electrical safety checklist. The checklist will take you through each room in your house and suggest ways to make them safer.
Safety with tools
Power tools are part of every homeowners’ do-it-yourself arsenal, but they can be deadly if you use them to drill into electrical wiring. The Electrical Safety Foundation cites statistics that reveal that eight percent of consumer-product related electrocutions each year are attributed to electrical accidents involving power drills, saws, sanders, hedge trimmers, and other power tools.
For example, use power tools with insulated grips and ground fault circuit interrupters to protect against electric shock. Never drill into a wall if you don’t know where wiring might be located.
A ground fault circuit interrupter is an inexpensive electrical device that can either be installed in your electrical system or power cord to protect you from severe electric shocks. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has a useful guide on these devices.
Empowered Global can help you identify the risks before you start a do-it-yourself home improvement project. Call us at 239-947-2375 to schedule a service appointment to discuss your needs.