Common Electrical Wiring Mistakes Made by Home Owners

When it comes to risk in the home, nothing is quite as dangerous as electricity. Despite this though, it’s not unusual for people to try and conduct minor repairs and installations on their own. Without the right prior knowledge and experience, this can lead to a wide variety of mistakes which will eventually make the household a more dangerous place. Here are some of the more common errors found in DIY electrical projects.


1. Forgetting the Electrical Box

If you are connecting wires, you will need to enclose them in an electrical box for added safety. Unfortunately, these connections are often left exposed which increases the risk of sparks and fires. The box is there to contain any heat created by the wires and should be an integral part of your home safety measures. If you decide to connect any cables without one, you are putting yourself, your family and your property at risk unnecessarily.

2. Cutting the Wires too Short

While you may have been taught to be thrifty, never ever skimp when it comes to cutting electrical cable. If your wires are too short, this can increase the chances of:

  • Poor wire connections
  • Exposed or crossed cables

A better idea is to leave at least 3 inches of wire protruding from the electrical box. In this way, you will then have enough cable to complete the connection properly without any added dangers emerging in the process.

3. Leaving Cable Exposed

One of the most common places to string wiring is through the timber frames in the ceiling. Unfortunately, improper techniques here often leave these wires in the open which can then, in turn, damage the plastic sheathing and create a whole multitude of problems. Always protect the cable by never leaving it exposed. This will eliminate the chances of the sheathing being split, worn or otherwise damaged inadvertently. If you’re not sure how to do this, contact your local electrician.

4. Poorly Installing Sockets

Loose outlets and sockets are another commonly occurring risk caused by DIY home electricians. Whether the connections are loose or the sockets are recessed, the following dangers may arise:

  • Electrical shocks from loose wires
  • Fires caused by crossed circuitry

Installing or repairing an outlet should only be done by those with the relevant skills and experience so that everything is done in a safe manner. Loose sockets can also recess so much that they are eventually completely unusable.

5. Failing to Add a Ground Wire

When replacing a two-slot socket with a three-slot one, you may be tempted to just leave that third hole unconnected. This can be incredibly dangerous however. Before you make the switch, ensure that there is actually a ground cable to connect to. If not, you will either have to get one installed or leave the outlet as is for added safety. Obviously we’d recommend the former though as having an earth wire is always advised.

6. Recessing Boxes into the Wall

Another common mistake with electrical boxes occurs when installing them. In this case, the box is recessed into the wall. This can be risky because the cables are then exposed to the flammable elements, such as wood and insulation, which lie inside. Instead, it’s better to place these boxes flush on the wall so that all combustible elements are kept away from any heat and sparks which may be produced by the cables enclosed within the box itself.

7. Installing Cables with No Clamp

Failing to secure the wires is also a mistake made frequently by DIY technicians. Safe installation practices include:

  • Clamping the cables within larger electrical boxes
  • Stapling the wires at least 8 inches from the box

If the cables aren’t secured, there is a high chance they will be damaged by the box edges or left hanging where they can cause accidents. Take the proper steps to secure your wires and ensure they are properly in place.

8. Overfilling Electrical Boxes

It’s also common to cram the electrical box with too many cables. This can increase the chances of overheating, short circuits and fire. If possible, purchase a larger box so that all cables can fit comfortably inside without any added danger. Another possibility is to redirect some cables to another electrical box, thereby splitting the quantity into two or more manageable amounts. Whatever you do, avoid overfilling these boxes as the added dangers are simply not worth the simpler installation.

9. Reversing the Cables

When connecting outlets, the unexperienced home technician can inadvertently reverse the connections. These switched cables can drastically increase the likelihood of someone receiving a lethal shock. The danger is also expounded by the fact that this error is difficult to spot at first. Your appliances will work as normal despite the mistake, meaning you may only realise once it is too late! This is a very simple miscalculation which can later have devastating effects.

10. Incorrectly Wiring a GFCI

Lastly, people also tend to connect their ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) in the wrong way. While they think they are making their home safer, these improper connections can actually void any benefits that the GFCI has in the first place. This means you will still be at risk of receiving a lethal shock later on regardless. The obvious solution is to wire this component in the right manner. Unfortunately, this needs a certain level of skill and knowledge in order to be completed correctly.

As you can see, there are quite a few ways for someone without the proper technical experience to make a mistake and put themselves in danger. If you aren’t confident with your abilities, we recommend contacting a locally-based expert instead. Luckily, there are options like Blackhall Plumbing electrical services which can help you avoid these errors and conduct repairs and installation in a safe, effective manner. Whether you are laying down wires in a new-build home or installing some more cables in an existing circuit, swallowing your pride and hiring an electrical specialist will be a much smarter idea.

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