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Some mistakes in the course of amateur electrical work in Wilmington, NC, are quite common. This doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous. Mistakes in the course of electrical work are rarely harmless and often lead to short circuits, accidental electrocution of various magnitudes, and even fires. The U.S. Fire Administration estimates that nearly 6.3%, almost 24,000 incidents, of residential fires are caused by electrical issues.
Junction boxes exist to protect electrical connections from accidental damage. These boxes may isolate sparks and heat resulting from loose connections and short circuits. All wires should be connected to an electrical box for safety reasons. If your home contains connections outside of an electrical box, call an electrician to install a box and reconnect wires.
All electrical boxes should be installed flush against the wall, especially if the wall surface is made of flammable material. Boxes in recesses behind walls can heat the material around them and cause fires. Metal or plastic box extensions may be helpful in such situations, and metal extensions should be grounded.
The number of electrical appliances and devices in modern households increases constantly. This can lead to boxes stuffed with more cables than they can safely accommodate. The National Electrical Code mandates minimum box sizes, but this doesn’t remove the risk of overcrowded boxes that may cause short-circuits and fires. It is best to hire an electrician to determine the number of objects in the box, identify hot, neutral, and ground wires and install a larger box with at least two cable clamps for each electrical device.
Wires cut into excessively short lengths is a very common mistake. Avoiding this mistake requires advance planning. Each wire should have at least three inches protruding from junction boxes. It is possible to lengthen short wires. Hardware stores often sell wire connectors and extensions, but people can easily make the problem worse and create hazards if they don’t have the proper training to manipulate wiring.
Some mistakes working with wiring can be fatal. Accidentally connecting a hot wire to a neutral terminal is one of those mistakes. This is an especially hazardous scenario because everything may function correctly and you won’t know anything is wrong until someone is electrocuted. You could familiarize yourself with color coded wires and their functions, but you can also remove the risk entirely by hiring a professional electrician.
Cables and Outlets
Home wiring jobs can easily result in exposed cables between framing structures. Electrical safety codes mandate protection of these cables because they are prone to damage, especially cables running beneath ceiling framing or within walls.
Loose and unsupported outlets or switches have an unpleasant appearance, but they are also hazardous. Unsecured connections can move around and pull wires away from terminals. These wires can cause electrical current arcs and start fires. Some homeowners attempt to correct this problem with shims and screws to tighten connections, but this is really a job for a professional. The risks of fire are too great to take chances.
Two slot outlets used to be very common in Wilmington, NC, and the rest of the country, They’re often found in older homes. However, two slot outlets are becoming obsolete because they aren’t grounded. Replacing outdated outlets with three slot receptacles doesn’t really improve the situation because the outlets are still not grounded. It is actually safer to leave the two slot outlet in place than replace it with an ungrounded receptacle. An electrician can test our outlets to determine if they are grounded or not and fix potentially hazardous outlets.
Unsecured cables move around and put pressure on connections. Metal boxes with sharp edges can damage wires. Cable clamps can help. Large boxes should have integrated clamps, and cables should be stapled no further than 12 inches from the box. Installing a clamp seems like a simple solution, but you have to ensure that cable sheathing is contained within the clamp and leave at least 1/4-inch of visible sheathing inside the box. Its much easier and faster to hire an electrician.
Protective devices called GFCI outlets shut off electrical power when they detect variations in current that could cause shocks. Each GFCI outlet has two terminal pairs. One is a line for incoming power, while the other is labeled as a load that protects successive outlets. Confusing these pairs results in an ineffective outlet. Problems generally result in a call to an electrician, but having a professional do the work in the first place saves time and money.
The National Electrical Code mandates proper wiring to avoid fire hazards, and for many other reasons. These codes must be followed to obtain insurance and comply with inspections. Circuit breakers, including standard circuit breakers,
ground fault circuit interrupters and arc fault interrupters, are covered by these codes.
Amateurs can attempt to learn and follow these codes, but electricians actually spend a lot of time learning the ins and outs of NEC codes and their practical applications. They have to follow national and local regulations and put safety above all other considerations. Electrical codes and practices can’t be learned and understood in a weekend.
Tamper resistant receptacles are meant to block access to children and prevent electrical shocks. Children sometimes insert objects into receptacles, which is very dangerous. Several types of outdoor receptacles are available. The correct type depends on exposure to weather and moisture.
Electrical bonding is another safety measure. Exposed metal items which are not designed to carry electricity are connected to electrical infrastructure. This process is intended to avoid electrical socks, but it is not the same thing as grounding. It is supposed to be done in addition to grounding as an extra layer of protection. Leave safety measures to electricians. Measures to protect people and reduce risk of fires and other accidents should be taken very seriously.
Contact Mister Sparky of Wilmington for all of your home wiring needs and other electrical work. The professional electricians at Mister Sparky know relevant national and local codes and, even more importantly, know how to install, repair, or alter electrical infrastructure properly and safely.