Electricity is everywhere. It has become as much a utility as the water supplied to our homes, so ubiquitous is it as a domestic power source. Whether as a hobbyist or simply a homeowner with a tight renovation budget, there is a chance that you may be considering some at-home, DIY electrical work.
However, it goes without saying that electricity is an extremely dangerous force to mess with. The less-trained hand is more likely to experience serious injury than the expert hand, particularly where gaps in knowledge are especially egregious. Still, people have to learn somewhere – and there are a great many at-home or hobbyist projects that present a relatively safe pathway to DIY electrical work. But where is the line? Where should the professionals be called in?
DIY Electrical Projects
As far as at-home DIY projects are concerned, there are many that involve engagement with mains electricity – many of which are simple enough to be undertaken with relative safety. Power outlets and light switches are a simple matter to swap out, as are light fixtures. With regard to your mains panel, circuit breakers and fuses are also a cinch to replace.
Appliances might also present DIY repair opportunities, such as replacing a frayed mains wire or rewiring a plug. Some appliances use discrete components to enable their effective use, such as refrigerators which use thermocouples to measure temperature and operate accordingly; replacing these discrete components can be simple with a guide. Electronics hobbyists might go as far as to learn how to ‘re-cap’ older devices such as guitar amplifiers or radios.
Recognizing Your Limits
Whatever the level of project you might intend to undertake, it is important to first acknowledge your own limitations as a DIYer. For example, if you have no idea how ‘ground’ works as an electrical concept, you probably should not be engaging with electrical works of any kind. Also, if you do not have the exact tools necessary to engage with electrical systems, you should at least pause in order to acquire them.
When to Call a Professional
Here, the threshold between acceptable DIY and professional work comes into view. When exactly a professional is required for a project depends somewhat on your personal skill levels and preparedness, though there are some hard lines that an unqualified DIYer should not cross.
For example, if you have intentions of making any modifications to your home’s power system, this would be a job for an expert. Basic-seeming electrical works such as the rewiring of renovated rooms would be included in this – as would major projects such as the installation and hook-up of solar panels or auxiliary batteries.
Further, you should not entrust these larger jobs to anyone but an accredited electrician. This means choosing an electrician who is demonstrably and provably state-licensed, ensuring work is done safely and to a minimum standard.