Remodels can make a home feel fresh and exciting, but they can also lead to technical mistakes. Sometimes homeowners decide to tackle a project without much experience, which can lead to miscalculations and errors. All problems are unfortunate, but electrical issues can be downright dangerous.
Here are eight electrical problems to avoid during a renovation.
1. The Wiring Is Overstripped
Wire stripping is a normal part of electrical work when remodeling. It’s a relatively small task that leads many homeowners to complete the job without a professional’s assistance. While straightforward, sometimes too much material is stripped away, creating hazards.
Individuals hoping to complete the repairs without help should look to the standards outlined in the National Electrical Code (NEC) for guidance. In general, they should remove at least 6 inches when working with an outlet box. Stripping away too much can lead to sparks as hot conductors touch. These sparks could cause a fire.
2. The Wires Are Reversed
Wires must be installed appropriately in outlets. Many inexperienced DIYers accidentally reverse the hot and neutral wires. This creates the potential for a lethal shock. Unfortunately, because the outlet still allows plugged-in devices to operate, homeowners may not realize the mistake until a shock occurs.
The hot wire must be connected to the correct terminal. The neutral terminal should always have a mark — usually, a silver or light-colored screw. Renovators should connect the white neutral wire to the marked terminal and attach the hot cable to the other one. They should always wear safety gear, regardless of whether they’ve already turned off the power. It’s better to play it safe than risk potential injury while working.
3. The Cables Are Left Unprotected
Electrical wires need appropriate coverage if exposed to public areas or the outdoors. If left unprotected, they could be damaged and pose a safety hazard. This electrical issue is easy to miss after an extensive remodel, so homeowners should double-check these places.
If they discover unprotected cables, they’ll need to use an NEC-approved method to ensure proper coverage. In most cases, electrical tape will suffice, but it’s always best to be aware of other available options.
4. The Outlet Type Is Unsafe
The materials used in a bedroom should differ from those in the bathroom. Any receptacles that could come into contact with water should have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) installed. GCFIs monitor the amount of energy transferring from the outlet to the appliance or device in use. If it detects any variation, the power cuts out and prevents electrocution. The line and load connectors must not be reversed during installation, as this would circumvent the GCFI’s safety feature.
All materials installed in the bathroom must match the required moisture ratings. Homeowners need to look closely at the products they choose, as many variations between ratings are difficult to spot. For example, THHN is suitable in dry locations and should not be used in bathrooms, but THWN qualifies as a wire type that can be used in wet or dry areas. A single letter differentiates each product, so fixers could easily purchase the wrong type if not vigilant.
5. The Junction Box Is Missing
When renovating a property, owners may come across things that are not up to code. They may even discover wires protruding from a hole without a junction box. In this situation, they need to install a new electrical container rather than leaving the initial setup. They must add it before attempting to connect anything with the cables. Without it, these wires can become damaged and lead to an electrical fire.
If renovators feel uncomfortable installing an electrical box or want additional advice, they should hire an electrician or speak to an in-store adviser.
6. The Wires Are Still Hot
Homeowners should always turn the electricity off before beginning work on a project. Once they shut it off, they’ll need to use electrical testers to ensure the wires are no longer hot. This extra step could save someone from a major shock. Luckily, these items are inexpensive and widely accessible at hardware stores.
There are many fuses in a fuse box, so sometimes renovators believe the power is off when it’s actually still active. Making an assumption can lead to injury, especially since some outlets may be linked to other switches in the box.
7. The Box Is Recessed Incorrectly
An electrical box that is recessed behind combustible material like wood poses a fire hazard. The heat from the outlet and potential sparks could set the wall on fire. Luckily, the solution is simple. A box extension made of metal or plastic would prevent the issue by blocking the wooden frame. Most extensions are inexpensive and easy to install.
8. The Wires Are Too Short
Cutting the wires too short makes electrical repairs more challenging. It’s a dangerous mistake that can lead to weak connections. They should always extend at least 3 inches from the box. If they do not, the repair person can use wire connectors to increase the overall length. These connectors are a straightforward fix for wires that are too short.
Always Follow the Code
These are eight electrical problems to avoid during a remodel. However, many more exist and can cause dangerous situations if not mitigated. The solution is for homeowners to always follow the National Electrical Code. This code will provide detailed directions relating to all types of electrical repairs.
People should also recognize that most electrical work should be left for a professional. When in doubt, it’s always best to hire an electrician rather than risk danger.
Bio: Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized Magazine. She has over three years of experience writing industrial topics for the construction, manufacturing, and supply chain industries.