13 Electrical Mistakes You Are Making & Expert SAFE Fixes!


The beginning of rectifying mistakes is identifying them. When it comes to electricity, 9 out of 10 homes make major electrical mistakes that cost them way more extra money and hassle to get fixed. And you’re also making yourself susceptible to electricity-related hazards like electrocution and shocks! Here are 13 electrical mistakes you’re making.

Overview

  • Wrong wires
  • Splicing outside of electrical box
  • Cutting wires too short
  • Not wiring correctly
  • Not using GFCI in bathroom or kitchen
  • Running too many circuits off of breaker
  • Loose fuses
  • Not replacing rusted breakers
  • Not grounding 3 slot outlet
  • Not hiring an electrician because you “feel” that you can DIY
  • Running power to your shed with an electrical cord, unprotected
  • Too many Christmas lights on your tree! (Overloading circuits)

1. Wrong wires – too high of guage (that can’t take the heat)

This electrical mistake is the most common type. You’re working with wrong wiring connections in your house. Now, this can be of many types, beginning from something as small as choosing unprotected, uncovered wires, to something big such as making wrong connections with them. Maybe you’ve made a mistake by grounding the wrong wire, maybe there are too many wires under the same terminal, or maybe your wires don’t have proper insulation. So many mistakes can be related to wrong wiring. Make sure you avoid making them.

Solution

Use the right wire

The following are nominal current ratings for copper conductors; long runs may require thicker wires to minimize voltage drop.     

  • White: 14 AWG wire for 15-amp circuits.     
  • Yellow: 12 AWG wire for 20-amp circuits.     
  • Orange: 10 AWG wire for 30-amp circuits.     
  • Black: 6 or 8 AWG wire for 60- and 45-amp circuits, respectively.     
  • Gray: usage for underground installations

2. Splicing outside of electrical box

Do yourself a favor and never ever connect electrical wires outside of an electrical box. Damage to the connections resulting from accidents are protected by the J box or the junction box. It contains heat and sparks from short circuits or loose connections! How you can avoid this electrical mistake is installing a box and reconnecting the wires inside it. Make sure this is where the connections aren’t inside am electrical box.

Solution

Run enough wire to have extra in the right sized box

  • Make it to the electrical box
  • So you don’t make bad mistakes that could cause a fire.
  • Use a larger box so you have enough room for all your connections.
  • It’s better to have a larger box instead of jamming all the connections into a smaller one.

3. Cutting wires too short

Make wire lengths in accordance to the job you’re using the wires for. Not longer, not shorter. Problems can arise even because of something as small as short lengths of wires. If the connections get ripped apart due to some minor tension on them, it can cost you the whole money of hiring electricians, opening the circuit and purchasing new wires for them.

Solution

Measure once, cut twice

  • It’s very hard to connect short wires. They tend to come loose and are often a root cause of electrical problems.
  • Depending on your box size it is good to have an extra 6″ of wire in case you need to add another outlet which will require additional wires in the outlet.
  • 8″ is better. This is the length of the unstripped wire.
  • The NEC recommends…

 

4. Not wiring correctly

You can’t take outdated, poorly installed or damaged wiring, lightly. You don’t want to end up paying heavily for electrical repair and hospital bills like thousands of American residents do each year, because if electrical fires! Spot faulty wiring in your house and never make this electrical mistake. Keep an eye open for all the circuit breaker tips, listen closely to humming or buzzing sounds, flickering or dimming lights; look for frayed wires, and smell burning or other odd odors. You can easily avoid a major mishap if you just keep your senses reactive at all times!

Solution

Use the right wire

5. Not using GFCI in bathroom or kitchen

It’s always fun remodeling a part of your house, isn’t it?! But always remember that you need to adhere to a few electrical codes, like installing a GFCI outlet in your bathroom.

It is short for ground fault circuit interrupter. Unlike an ungrounded outlet, when a GFCI detects any kind of imbalance in power, it automatically cuts off the power.

You’re making yourself susceptible to shocks and getting electrocuted by not installing a GFCI system in the bathroom, which is especially a dangerous place to handle electrical circuits or switches because we all know what happens if we touch an electrical source with wet or moist hands.

GFCI systems prevent these accidents and makes sure the bathroom or kitchen (another outlet of water) is electrically safe for you. They need to be installed during the time of construction or remodeling.

Solution

Use a GFCI in both kitchen and bathroom

Buy at any hardware store or here via Amazon.

Tools: Flat head screwdriver, Philips screwdriver, circuit tester

Steps: 1. Turn off breaker to that outlet,2. Test the outlet, 3. Remove outlet cover, remove existing outlet, 4. Check the wires for any burn marks, 5. Insulate the outlet box hole (if it is on an exterior wall) 6. Follow wire diagram 7. Make sure to ground it, 8. Connect hot, neutral wires, 9. Push wires back in box, 10. Replace cover with insulated outlet cover, 11. Turn breaker on, 12. Test outlet with tester. 13. See if It resets., 14. You are done!

This will save you from getting electicuted and will make both rooms safer.

Use wiring diagram above to connect the wires.

Take your time and wire it correctly.

 

6. Running too many circuits off of breaker

This is another huge electrical mistake you’re making that will definitely cost you a great deal if you don’t look into it right now. Circuits are overloaded when there’s excessive current running through them. The reason they’re called circuit breakers is that they are supposed to literally break the circuit when there’s overflow of power through them. Stop connecting so many circuits to your circuit breaker! You’re trying to run more current through it than it’s built to take

Solution

Run another wire to a new breaker

  • Use fish tape
  • Run wire above rafters if possible
  • Add 30 amp or appropriate breaker depending on your equipment

Or

Move existing loop from 15 or 20 amp to 30 amp breaker. (Hire an electician to perform)

The following are nominal current ratings for copper conductors; long runs may require thicker wires to minimize voltage drop.     

  • White: 14 AWG wire for 15-amp circuits.     
  • Yellow: 12 AWG wire for 20-amp circuits.     
  • Orange: 10 AWG wire for 30-amp circuits.     
  • Black: 6 or 8 AWG wire for 60- and 45-amp circuits, respectively.     
  • Gray: usage for underground installations

7. Loose fuses

You probably think that a fuse being loose is no big deal, right? Well, breaking your bubble, it is. Let’s break it down for you. Loose fuses can cause heating at the point where it’s touching its connector. This heating will most often result in a fire if the sparking occurs in presence of air (which it is) because air supports combustion. Intermittent connections might cause electronic components to stress within the system. This includes the IC chips that will start failing because of thermal stress due to switching the IC on and off repeatedly. That’s a lot of technical information. Just, the point is to not keep loose fuses around your house.

8. Not replacing rusted fuses

Replace your fuse parts at regular intervals. They’re accumulating rust and can become increasingly faulty with time. You might be able to clear out a little part of the rusted areas of fuse contact quite well, but the backside of terminals will keep collecting rust on their surface. The place the crimp of the wire meets with the terminal, is somewhere you need to be concerned about. Poor connections are a result of rusting in fuses. Just throw it off. Replace it with a brand new fuse. Because no matter how much you try to clean the rust out of fuses, you can’t really get it completely out.

9. Not grounding 3 slot outlet

This problem arises when a 3 slot outlet is wired without making the connection for the ground wire. The ground provides the stray electricity form appliances, an alternate path to move into. This reduces risks of electrical shocks and electrocution from appliances, and let’s surge protectors protect the electrical appliances (like television, desktops or microwaves). So, if you’re not grounding your 3 prong outlet, make sure you get it done today!

10. Not hiring an electrician because you “feel” that you can DIY

No. Just no. You can’t. Electrical connections are not a joke. You might feel super inspired and charged seeing those tutorial videos that make it seem easy for you to do, or one of those step-by-step guidelines in blogs that portray making electrical connections as “DIY”. But believe me, making electrical connections need proper training and courses. And even then, they may contain slight mistakes. It is not easy. Not even close. You’ll be lost in wires and soldering and plugging and grounding. And you might get yourself electrocuted. Call a professional for your home’s electrical connections or even small repairs. Please, just please; don’t try to do then yourself.

11. Running power to your shed with an electrical cord, unprotected

Always, always wear protective gear while dealing with electricity. Even if it’s something small you’re dealing with, like changing the fuse. Running power outdoor requires dealing with a large amount of current. Whether it be to your shed for your car batteries or for a barbeque night! Carrying an electrical cord outside of your house to power external items can be seemingly safe, but there are still a lot of things that can go wrong. Wear protective gear or even just rubber slippers while you’re carrying cords from a power source.

12. Too many Christmas lights on your tree! (Overloading circuits)

Yes, this might sound kind of, ridiculous, but it’s not impossible. We all get hyped about Christmas; we can’t deny that. But would you hang so much light on your Christmas tree that the other outlets in your house start getting less power? Your Christmas lights can draw so much electricity from the main outlet that it can cause overloading on your power source. This can lead to your other appliances like television, refrigerator, and even your lights to shut off. So, maybe channel your Christmas spirit some other way (that doesn’t involve a power shutdown inside your house)?

Do you now realize what electrical mistakes you’re making? Some can be shrugged off but some are really grave, you all.

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D. Hahn

DIY guru, dad, husband, blogger. When I'm not creating life hacks I'm teaching my kids how to fix stuff after their dad breaks it.

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