How to Fix Common Electrical Wiring Problems

Although in a lot of cases it is illegal, many homeowners choose to work on the electrical wiring in their homes and in some cases even install new electrical systems. Be it to save money or time, the fact is that there are many homeowners who perform electrical work even though they have not received professional training. In this informative article, we’re not going to take the moral high ground. Instead we’re going to take a look at some of the biggest errors non-electricians make when installing new electrical wiring and how to fix them.

The first thing you need to realize if you’re planning on working on your home’s electrical system or installing new electrical wiring is that it can in fact be dangerous and lead to a fire if not installed properly. The key problem with this other than the possibility of injury or death is the issue of liability. Did you know that you can be held liable for any property damage or personal injuries caused by any electrical installation that you installed? It should also be noted that anyone who performs an electrical
installation is responsible and liable for that installation for as long as it exists. For that reason, you either want to make sure you’re installing electrical wiring properly or you should consider a licensed electrician to do the job for you.

Common Wiring Problems – New Installations

One of the biggest problems with new electrical wiring installations is that the wiring isn’t given adequate protection. If you’re installing new electrical wiring and using non-metallic sheathed wiring, it’s important to protect that wiring from errant nails or screws to prevent electrical shorts and potential fires. When drilling holes into the studs, make sure to leave at least 1 ¼” from the edge of the stud facing the drywall to prevent errant nails from puncturing the wires. If for whatever reason, you cannot do that, you’ll want to install nail plates on the stud to protect the wires behind them. Nail plates are metallic, rectangular sheets of metal that go over a stud and prevent nails and screws from penetrating the wood beneath.

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Another common problem with electrical wiring installations is cramming too many wires into one hole. While this may not seem like a problem, it can become a problem when there are too many wires in one hole as they cause friction whenever the wires are pulled against each other. What happens is the insulation (protective coating) is striped right off of the wires and they are left exposed which can lead to shorts and possibly a fire. Fortunately, this problem is easily corrected by not stuffing any one hole
with too many wires. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to not install more than three wires in any one 7/8” hole.

Another common problem is that of over-stuffed switch or outlet boxes. Over-stuffed boxes can lead to the insulation of the electrical wiring to melt and possibly catch fire. In any event, exposed electrical wires are never a good idea and neither are over-stuffed boxes. If you have too many wires in a box, simply switch to a larger box that can accommodate more wiring and will do a better job of diffusing the heat generated by the wires.

Making improvements to a home or adding more square footage is a dream for most homeowners but if you’re not careful, particularly when working with electricity, it can quickly become a nightmare. Educating yourself on code requirements and good installation practices is a great way to avoid problems down the line.

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