When it comes to home improvement, there are many projects that lend themselves to a DIY approach. You can paint, upgrade cabinet hardware, and do a substantial amount of landscaping. Experienced DIYers will even take on complicated projects like installing floor tiles.
Yet, not every home improvement project can or should happen as a DIY project for practical and safety reasons. A case in point is residential electrical work.
While most local regulations allow a homeowner to do limited amounts of electrical work in their homes, they also put hard limits on what you can do.
If you’re considering electrical projects, keep reading for a quick breakdown of things you DIY and things you should leave to an electrician.
One of the most common electrical projects that a homeowner wants is new fixtures, such as lights or fans. This one typically falls into the category of DIY electrical work, assuming you are comfortable working with wiring.
Replacing most fixtures only requires disconnecting and reconnecting wires that are typically color-coded. That makes it a relatively safe bit of electrical work assuming you turn off the power to the house.
Regulations typically make an exception for this kind of electrical work.
Replacing Outlets and Switches
Outlets and light switches are fairly durable as such things go, but they do fail from time to time. When they fail, it is often a serious inconvenience for the homeowner. After all, imagine if you couldn’t turn on the light in the bathroom or your child’s bedroom.
It’s not an insurmountable problem, but certainly one that will generate meaningful annoyance.
Much like fixtures, replacing an outlet or a switch generally only calls for disconnecting a few wires from the old outlet or switch and attaching them to the new outlet or switch.
Again, regulations typically allow for this.
Major Electrical Work
For any electrical work more serious than that, laws generally require a licensed electrician. A few common examples include:
- Running new circuits
- Wiring entire rooms
- Rewiring in your home
You should almost always hire an electrician for anything involving your breaker box. Replacing a circuit breaker is the one possible exception. If you aren’t familiar with what a circuit breaker looks like, click here to see some examples.
If you do this kind of work in your home, it can slow the sales process down the road. You must typically bring in an electrician to inspect the work and potentially repair any mistakes they find.
Residential Electrical Projects and You
The law does make some allowances for homeowners doing some residential electrical work as a DIY project. Even so, it’s a fairly short list of approved projects. You should get an electrician for any major electrical work.
While doing electrical work, make sure you put safety first. Throw the main breaker to cut off electricity to the whole house. It helps ensure you don’t get hurt.
Looking for more home improvement insight? Check out some more posts over in our Home Improvement section.