So you want to learn how to wire a ceiling light? It’s a pretty straightforward process – assuming you are prepared to follow instructions and safety guidelines.
It is a handy skill to possess. Knowing how to wire a light gives you the opportunity to take your decorating shenanigans to another level.
Feel free to get fancy and create a new vibe in your living room or bedroom by switching out dated fixtures for a modern look that compliments your style.
Ever dreamed of lounging in your bed looking up at the gleam of a very glamorous chandelier? Or is the thought of a new light and fan combination in your family room calling your name?
Well, now you can remodel your home with whatever ceiling light style tickles your fancy. Learning how to wire a ceiling light the right way will save you some serious banknotes.
All you need are a few tools and an agreeable assistant. Even if this is new territory for you, rest assured that you can learn how to wire a ceiling light the right way.
You’ve probably noticed that ceiling fixtures come in many different styles and shapes. Just as their looks vary, so do the methods people employ to attach them to the ceiling.
In a lot of cases, particularly with chandeliers, it’s typical to see that a central threaded hollow rod will be used to position and hold it in place. Also, ceiling fixtures can be suspended with the help of two screws that attach the fixture base to the outlet box.
It can also be attached to a mounting strap that is in the outlet box. Regardless of the manner in which you choose to hand your ceiling fixture, you can take a deep breath and relax knowing that the wiring part is simple.
There may be several wires that pass through the box. But fortunately, you will need to deal with three – not the whole kit and kaboodle.
A black wire, green wire, and white wire are the ones you need to be familiar with. While working on your project, you will notice that these three wires are joined together with the use of twist-on wire connectors.
It’s better to work on these wires with hands that are free of anything else – like a ceiling fixture. Once you loosen the screws that have been holding the existing fixture to the ceiling box, you do not want the extra burden of trying to balance holding your fixture while trying to work on the wires.
Even if you think you can juggle wires and a light fixture all by yourself, do not get cocky and think you can do so with a chandelier. You’ll end up with a mess on your hands.
This is why you want to enlist the help of someone. Your DIY ceiling wiring task will go a lot smoother and quicker if you get someone to help you replace your fixture.
The good news is that this project is doable with the right tools, information, and help. Yes, you too can learn how to wire a ceiling light the right way!
- Understanding How Lighting Works in Your House
- How to Replace Your Light Fixture With a New Ceiling Fan
- Step 1 – Take Down the Current Light Fixture
- Step 2 – Put in a Support Brace
- Step 3 – Station the Fan Mounting Bracket
- Step 4 – Secure the Fan Motor Wiring
- Step 5 – Attach Those Fan Blades
- Step 6 – Put On Your Light Fixture
- Step 7 – Get the Wall Control Switch Installed
- Prominence 80029-01 Alvina LED Globe Light Home Fan
- Harbor Breeze Mazon 44 Inch Brushed Nickel Flush Mount Indoor Ceiling Fan
- Portage Bay 50254 Hugger 52 Inch White West Hill Ceiling Fan with Bowl Light Kit
- Honeywell 50602-01 Ocean Breeze Contemporary, 30 Inch LED Frosted Light Ceiling Fan
- Hunter Fan Company Hunter 53237 Transitional 52 Inch Ceiling Fan
- Why Electrical Safety Is So Important
- Electrical Safety 101
Understanding How Lighting Works in Your House
First things first, you want to understand how lighting works in your home. Doing so will give you a fuller appreciation of what you’re taking on before you get started. This is how it works.
A supply of electrical energy will arrive at your dwelling at a main, sealed fuse which is called a service head. It will then travel to your meter by means of one large red and one large black wire.
This meter is what is used to measure how much electricity you utilize. Do not touch any part of the meter or service head – it is off-limits.
The next stop is the consumer unit. It is from this source that the electricity is distributed around your home. Within this box, you will have circuits.
Each one is fused either by a trip switch if you have a residual current device or an amp rated fuse wire. You will be able to tell how much electricity is at your disposal by checking out the volts.
The rate at which the volts flow along the conductors is measured in amps. The power that your ceiling light, or any appliance, needs in order to function is measured in watts.
If you need to figure out how to determine the correct cable and fuse formula, then you should use this simple method: Watts / Volts = Amps. This means that watts divided by volts equal amps.
An effective way to visualize this is to think about something rolling down a mountain. Think of the volts as the height of the mountain. Now imagine that the amps are the rate at which the electricity is permitted to roll down that mountain.
When a force such as resistance reduces the rate of the flow down the mountain it is measured in ohms. Your consumer meter is designed to measure consumed energy, not volts or amps.
This consumed energy is reflected by the amount of watts that are used each hour by every single appliance you use in your home. This is typically referred to as kilowatt-hours or kWh.
Volts (the total amount of electricity used) are measured in amp/hours. Consider this to be the flow per hour if you think back to the mighty mountain mentioned earlier.
Electricity moves along the live wire. This is how it feeds what is required. From this point, it goes back to the neutral wire to its local transformer.
This flow can be halted by inserting a switch. For all intents and purposes, this switch is placed in the live wire.
It is important to be cautious when dealing with live wires. Some people have been shocked after touching them.
You need to be very careful when dealing with wiring to avoid electric shock. As this picture shows above, voltage is hazardous to your health. It can travel through your body and hurt you. Exercise caution and cut off the power before working on equipment.
Now that you know how electricity works in your home, it’s time to move on to the fun part – your DIY lighting project. These are the items you will need for this project:
- Ceiling light
- Mounting accessories
- Wire cap nuts
- Phillips screwdriver
Now that you have all your tools ready, you are all set to start wiring your ceiling light. Here are the nine steps you need to take.
Step 1 – Power Down
Cut the power by turning off the breaker that controls the wiring for the ceiling light. After you turn your breaker off, pull out your voltage detector to check the wires.
If you discover that voltage is present, cut off the main breaker on the breaker panel. You will then need to check the wires to make sure that there is no voltage whatsoever.
However, if you find that there is still voltage even after the main breaker has been turned off, you must stop. Forget about trying to hang the ceiling light yourself.
Save yourself the headache and call a professional electrician to diagnose the problem.
Step 2 – Know Your Wires
If the power is off, you have a green light to proceed to this next step. At this point, you will need to figure out the types of wires you are dealing with that will support the ceiling light.
As long as you understand the color code, you will be fine with this step. Neutral wires are white. Hot wires are black. Ground wires are bare copper or green.
For the most part, you will mainly be working with the black, hot wires and the white, neutral wires. Bear in mind though that there could be a red wire in the junction box.
This is called a switchable hot wire. It is controlled by a wall switch, and this red wire will become your primary hot wire.
Step 3 – Know Your Hot Wire
You need to figure out which wire on your ceiling light is your neutral wire and which one is your hot wire. Black and white wires are easy to tell apart.
However, if you are dealing with gold or tan-colored ones, you will need to go by more than just the color. Be on the lookout for edges that are squared, have small writing, or even have a ridge on the plastic sheathing.
You have stumbled upon the hot wire if you find any of these tell-tale signs. Strip away the sheathing on the lamp wires so that roughly 1/2-inch of bare wire is showing.
If you are not familiar with the way wiring looks, this is a good example. You see clearly how the white wires stand in stark contrast to the black wires. Also, the bare copper metal lets you see what a wire looks like that is not encased. Creative Commons Can you spot by ilovebutter / CC by 2.0
Do note that wires that are marked UF-B, NM-B, THHN, or THWN-2 are approved for the higher temperature fixtures.
However, if you have an older house that was built in the early 80s, you may very well have wiring for fixtures that are rated at a lower temperature setting. This may create an issue since the more modern fixtures require the use of wires that can hold up under hotter temperatures.
For this reason, do not connect a post-1985 fixture to pre-1985 wiring. This is a recipe for disaster. The heat from the fixture could possibly melt the insulation around your wires resulting in a serious fire hazard.
Step 4 – Inspect the Outlet Box
You now need to Inspect your outlet box. It is important to ensure that the box is securely fastened. The National Electric Code (NEC) requires that a ceiling fixture that is heavier than fifty pounds will need to have an independent electrical box.
Step 5 – Remove the Ceiling Light
Take down the old ceiling light using a Phillips screwdriver to unscrew the mounting screws. This process will be much easier if you have a little assistance.
If you can, find someone to hold the ceiling fixture. Now, uncap the wires and remove any electrical tape. Once that is done, it’s time to untwist the fixture wires from the house wiring.
Step 6 – Align your Fixture
To avoid straining your arm and wasting time, pre-assemble as much of the ceiling fixture on the ground as you possibly can. Make sure that you balance the rod.
Avoid trying to put your ceiling fixture together after you install it. You should take the time to assemble the pieces together and then put it up as one unit. Creative Commons new ceiling fans 002 by Roger Mommaerts/ CC by 2.0
Do this by aligning the canopy with the crossbar. Leave a bit of screw thread out so it can extend through the canopy. Using a lock nut, fasten the length in place.
For each side of the crossbar, you will need to weave the screws into the holes. If you are working with a rod, make sure to thread it into the middle hole of your crossbar.
You will now need to transfer your wires to one side of the electrical box. From here you will mount the crossbar to the electrical box.
Step 7 – Connect Your Wires
Now it is time to connect your wires as they were in the old ceiling fixture. This is a rather straightforward step in which you will wire the black wire to black and the white wire to white.
The bare copper wire is the ground wire. It should be connected to the green grounding screw in the crossbar.
Get your lovely helper to hold the rest of the fixture so you can focus exclusively on connecting the wires. When done, you will need to tuck the wires into your electrical box.
Step 8 – Line Up Your Fixture
Match up your canopy with the mounting screws and tighten them. If your light fixture is like most of them, you’ll see an opening shaped like a keyhole.
You will need to line up the head of the screw with the wider part of the hole. Now twist the ceiling fixture to the narrower part.
You will need to take a screwdriver and align it with the head of your mounting screw as you see pictured here. Tighten each screw to ensure that it is secure.
At this point, you will tighten the mounting screws. If you need to, adjust the rod so your canopy sits flush against the ceiling.
Step 9 – Wrap Your Project Up
Put in your light bulbs and position the globe of the light so you can tighten the set screws on the side of your canopy. Finally, it is time to turn the power back on and it is officially a wrap – you are done.
But what if you want to wire a ceiling light that has a fan attached? You will need to make a few adjustments to your approach. Here is how to do it.
How to Replace Your Light Fixture With a New Ceiling Fan
The thing to keep in mind here is that the bigger your room is, the bigger your fan can be. To find out just how much space you can play around with you will need to take measurements.
To do this you should measure the longest wall in the room. Now if you discover that this wall is less than 12 feet, then you will need to buy a fan that is 36-inches in diameter.
However, if your measurements show that this wall is 12-15 feet long, then you will need to buy a 42-inch fan. If your room is rather large and your longest wall is over 15 feet, then you can go up to a 52-inch fan.
Step 1 – Take Down the Current Light Fixture
Swapping out your room’s outdated ceiling fixture or chandelier with a ceiling fan that comes with its own light fixture can be done. But you will need to have a sound understanding of how to perform basic electrical improvements to your home.
With that being said, this will be more challenging if your room does not even have a light fixture to begin with. If this is the case, the level of difficulty of your project will go up significantly.
You would have to cut through the ceiling. It would also involve installing new wiring as well as a switch.
If this all sounds entirely too complicated, it would be better to call a professional electrician. However, if you do have an existing light fixture, you’ll find that your little electrical project will not be nearly as daunting.
In order to switch out your current fixture, you must first cut off the power. You’ll have to go to your home’s main electrical panel to access the circuit that powers your light and its switch.
In order to access the circuit that powers your light and its switch, you will need to make a trip to your home’s main electrical panel. As you can see here it will have little white boxes off to the side indicating which switch powers which room. Make sure that you select the correct switch. Creative Commons Breaker Box by Curtis Gregory Perry/ CC by 2.0
You can never be too cautious when working with electricity so before you go a step further, it would be a good idea to cover the switch with tape. Doing so will help you avoid unpleasant accidents that could happen if the switch was turned back on while you are in the middle of working.
Now that that is taken care of, you will need to break out a good old circuit tester. After all, you do want to make sure that the power is indeed off before you touch any part of the electrical wiring.
From this step, you will disconnect the fixture wires. Next, take off the central mounting nut. Remove any screws that are holding the existing fixture in place.
Now that your old fixture is out of the way, you need to try to figure out whether the electrical box is fastened securely to a support bracket or a ceiling joist.
You will need a sturdy mount to hold the fan up because they normally weigh up to 50 pounds and need to be secured. Things become a bit more involved if you find that your ceiling box is enclosed by another material such as drywall.
In this case, you may need to access the joists from above. This step could very well involve taking a trip to the attic.
Once there, you will need to inspect the situation. If it looks like a support brace is needed, then you will have to attach one.
Step 2 – Put in a Support Brace
This is where things start to get interesting. Did you know that you can make and install your own support brace? Yep, you heard right. You get to take DIY to new levels.
In order to pull this off, you will need to use a bit of timber. You can install your very own support brace using a length of 2×4 lumber nailed to the ceiling joists on both sides of the box location.
If you are not sure what a support brace looks like, then notice the piece of metal above. That is a good example of a support brace. It snaps into joist-hangers. Some support braces are “L” shaped so make sure you get the right one for your job. Creative Commons Modular construction by jm3 on Flickr/ CC by 2.0
Place your brace exactly above the ceiling box. Going at an angle from below, you will need to use wood screws to securely affix the ceiling box to the brace.
But what on earth do you do if you have been unjustly denied access to the area above the ceiling? You will need to make use of a different option by installing an expanding metal brace from below.
Doing so will allow both the ceiling box and fan to be well supported. Here is what you should do to make this happen. First, take down the existing box.
Going through the hole, put the brace in and fasten it by ratcheting it into place. You’ll find that as the ratchet turns from below, the brace’s arms will reach out until they touch the ceiling joists on both sides of the hole.
The arms’ spikes will then sit securely in the wood. You may come across braces that already have a ceiling box attached.
However, if you do not, then you can always affix your existing ceiling box to the brace. You can employ this same method if you decide to put up a ceiling fan in a room where no electrical fixture was installed before.
The way this is done is to cut a hole in the ceiling. Next, make sure that the electrical wiring is routed to the hole from a junction box (ideally one that is conveniently located nearby).
If you have not seen a junction box before, then the one pictured above is a good example. Typically, it will have a cover, but this is what it will look like once the cover has been removed. Creative Commons Junction Box by Muhammad Ali/ CC by 2.0
After that is taken care of, you will need to install a brace and a new ceiling box as described above.
Step 3 – Station the Fan Mounting Bracket
Fortunately, you will find that the majority of ceiling fans do come with a mounting bracket. However, if you find that yours does not, then do not fret.
You can simply buy a mounting kit separately. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and attach the bracket to your ceiling box.
This bracket is designed to have a round holder for a ball mount installed on either the extension rod or the fan motor. For maximum comfort, it is generally recommended that an extension rod of any length be used to avoid placing a fan too close to the ceiling.
Doing so would create a stuffy room that does not have enough air circulation. What would be the point in having a ceiling fan that doesn’t actually cool you off?
To install the extension rod and suspend the fan you will need to temporarily tape the ends of the fan motor wiring together.
You can see in the above picture how to wrap wire with tape. When you tape the ends of the fan motor wiring together make sure that you wrap the tape around as the man did here so that it will be easy to remove when you are finished. Creative Commons Crash Sensor Wiring Repair 1 by Mauro Victor Barboza/ CC by 2.0
Your next step will be to bring the wiring through the rod. Once that is done, affix the rod to the fan motor. Position the ball mount securely at the upper end of the rod.
Step 4 – Secure the Fan Motor Wiring
Now it is time to mosey along to the next step. Here is where you want to secure the fan motor to the ceiling bracket. This is done by putting the swivel ball into the bracket.
Join the wires from the fan motor to the house wiring. Normally, this means connecting the white to white (“neutral”) wires and the black to black (“hot or live”) wires.
You may find that your fan also has a bare copper or green insulated wire. If this is the case, then you will need to affix it to the existing ground wire. Next, you will need to connect both to the metal electrical box.
If you have purchased a ceiling light fan that comes with a remote control operator that allows you to control your fan and light without using a pull-chain or switch, then you will find additional wires or a receiving unit in your packaging.
In order to install this properly, you must follow the manufacturer’s wiring instructions carefully. Secure all connections well by using wire nuts.
This is what it will look like when you have secured your connections with wire nuts. The yellow caps at the end of the wires are called wire nuts. Creative Commons DSCF1083 by Chris Baranski/ CC by 2.0
Step 5 – Attach Those Fan Blades
Now it is off to the races. You are almost done. This is the part where you will need to put in your fan canopy that covers the mounting bracket and ceiling box.
Affix a blade mounting bracket to each fan blade. Locate the fan motor and then attach the mounting brackets to the rotating bezel below it.
Make sure that all of the mounting screws are tight. If you have loose blades the fan will wobble when it is running.
Step 6 – Put On Your Light Fixture
This next step is only necessary if your fan comes with a light fixture. If it does, then you will need to put the fixture together and switch housing.
Next, you will attach the light fixture to the fan motor assembly. From this point, you will need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to successfully connect the wiring.
Finally, you get to put on the light shades, bulbs, or glass dome.
Now you get to put the finishing touches on it by attaching the dome. In this picture the dome is the rounded piece located at the base of the ceiling fan.
Step 7 – Get the Wall Control Switch Installed
These days the majority of fans that are sold are controlled by a rheostat-type wall switch. This switch is what allows for basic functioning such as being able to turn the fan on or off and being in control of the fan speed.
Prior to installing your new wall switch for your unit, make sure that you recheck the existing switch wiring. You can do this with your trusty circuit tester.
This step is crucial because you want to be certain that the power is off. In order to install the fan control switch, you will need to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Once you have finished this process, you can turn the power back on. Test the fan and lighting in each operating mode.
Done correctly, you should be left with a ceiling fixture you can be proud of for years to come – or at least until the remodeling bug hits you again. Here are five top-rated ceiling fans for your inspiration.
Prominence 80029-01 Alvina LED Globe Light Home Fan
This hugger ceiling fan features a low profile design making it ideal for rooms where extra space is needed. It would make the perfect addition to medium-sized living rooms, bedrooms, dining rooms, or family rooms.
Plus, the quiet, reversible three-speed motor can be run in the winter to help in rotating warm air and cutting down on energy costs. Pull-chains are included for quick and easy on/off adjustments but it is designed to also be compatible with universal ceiling fan remote controls.
Just do not expect it to push out as much air as a forty-two-inch ceiling fan.
Harbor Breeze Mazon 44 Inch Brushed Nickel Flush Mount Indoor Ceiling Fan
Harbor Breeze’s forty-four-inch Mazon fan combines performance and modern style in a compact package. This beauty is perfect for small rooms. It will blend very well with a contemporary look.
You will find that the integrated light kit is dimmable and comes with an 18-watt LED module to give you plenty of illumination. Also, the flush mount design is ideal for any rooms that feature low ceilings.
However, this fan can be a bit noisy. Place this ceiling fan in a room where you do not mind hearing a low-frequency hum.
Portage Bay 50254 Hugger 52 Inch White West Hill Ceiling Fan with Bowl Light Kit
Portage Bay’s ceiling fan measures 11.5 inches from the ceiling to the bottom of the light fixture making it ideal for low ceilings. This fan is easy to assemble and install.
The lighting is dimmable and it comes with a three-speed reversible control for versatile use during the summer and winter. A multi-capacitor makes this an ideal ceiling fan for those who appreciate quiet operation and maximum air movement.
It does have a tendency to give off a chemical smell when operated. You may find it helpful to open the windows the first few times you use it to air the smell out.
Honeywell 50602-01 Ocean Breeze Contemporary, 30 Inch LED Frosted Light Ceiling Fan
Honeywell’s contemporary style ceiling fan is perfect if you are looking to modernize your space. This small ceiling fan is perfect for kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, and other smaller spaces.
It features a quiet, reversible motor that can switch from downdraft to updraft mode for optimal airflow allowing you to control the temperature of your space with ease. Plus, this fan has dual-finish reversible blades with a different look on each side of the blades.
You can pick the finish that best fits your space and style. Just make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the tee when installing it. Otherwise, if the box in the ceiling is not perfectly aligned, you may have issues with the cover plate.
Hunter Fan Company Hunter 53237 Transitional 52 Inch Ceiling Fan
Hunter’s classic traditional style ceiling fan features a multi-speed reversible fan motor. The whisper wind motor delivers ultra-powerful airflow with quiet performance.
The energy-efficient, long-lasting, dimmable LED light bulbs allow you to control the lighting and ambiance of your living space. A low-profile housing makes it ideal for your living room, lounge, bedroom, and children’s rooms.
Buy extra back up lights as these tend to blow faster than other brands. Now that you have some beautiful, top-rated ceiling fans to inspire you, it is time to cover another important topic.
To ensure you have the best headache-free experience of wiring a ceiling light, it is crucial to highlight some very important safety guidelines.
After all, you want to keep yourself, your family, and your home free of any possible injuries or fires that could result from faulty wiring.
Why Electrical Safety Is So Important
When you don’t know what you’re doing, electrical work at home can be dangerous. That is why it is so vital to understand how to do electrical projects in the safest manner possible. Key components of electrical safety are cables and fuses.
The United States has electrical regulations that must be followed by law. If you review those regulations and find that you are not competent enough to perform the work, then do not attempt an electrical project.
In the U.S., you will be subject to the rules and regulations made by the court regarding electrical safety. If you are not competent to do electrical work, then safe it for a professional like the licensed electrician you see here.
What does competent mean exactly? It is defined as the ability to do something successfully or efficiently. If you’re considering doing any kind of electrical work, then it is crucial that you be competent enough to follow electrical regulations.
Choosing to ignore electrical safety can result in accidents and in the worst-case scenario, death. Each year, more than 2,400 children (seven children a day) – are treated at hospital emergency rooms due to injuries caused by electrical mishaps.
Keeping your family safe should be a top priority. Fortunately, there are organizations and programs in place that enforce standards to make sure people are safe.
The United States has a standard for the safe installation of electrical wiring and equipment known as The National Electrical Code (NEC), or NFPA 70.
The NEC is part of the National Fire Codes series which is published and revised by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Although the NEC is not itself a U.S. law, the use of this code is commonly mandated by state or local law.
It is also used in many jurisdictions outside of the United States and covers the installation of electrical conductors, equipment, and raceways. Moreover, the NEC addresses signaling and communications conductors, as well as optical fiber cables for the following:
- machine shops
- mobile homes
- industrial substations
- parking lots
- recreational buildings
- recreational vehicles
The NEC provides oversight and increases awareness of how to protect your family from accidents that result from electrical malfunctions that can result in shocks and fires. Here are two ways the NEC does that.
Although homes are not required to post signs warning of electric shock such as the one above, it does not mean that you can play with electricity. It is dangerous which is why the NEC has created guidelines to protect you and your family.
Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)
The National Electrical Code requires the use of Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) for certain electrical circuits in the home to prevent arc faults from occurring. What is an arc fault?
It is a dangerous electrical problem caused by overheated, damaged, or stressed electrical wiring or devices. AFCIs were developed as a remedy to fix electrical problems such as arc faults that cause fires in homes.
An AFCI is a circuit breaker. As such, it breaks the circuit when it detects an electric arc in the circuit it is designed to protect in order to prevent electrical fires.
Arc faults are dangerous business. In the United States alone, they are one of the leading causes of residential electrical fires.
Every year in the United States, over 40,000 fires are caused by home electrical wiring. Sadly, these preventable fires result in over 350 deaths and over 1,400 injuries each year.
AFCIs are used as a practical tool for providing enhanced fire protection. They do this by recognizing when a dangerous arcing situation happens in a home’s wiring before it turns into a fire hazard.
An AFCI has the ability to determine whether the arc is normal or risky. Once it identifies a problem, it immediately shuts down the power to the circuit before a fire can start.
By preventing fires AFCIs are able to save lives and property. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, AFCIs could prevent an estimated 50% of the electrical fires that happen each year.
Avoid unnecessary house fires such as the one you see here by following the codes regarding electrical safety. Don’t end up being one of the 50% of households that could have easily avoided a fire. Creative Commons House of Fire by dvs/ CC by 2.0
The absolute best way to save lives and property is to stop a fire before it even starts. AFCIs make that level of preventative protection possible.
However, if you have an older home, it might not be protected by an AFCI. It wasn’t until 1999 that the national codes required AFCIs in all circuits in homes.
If your home has a conventional circuit breaker, it will only respond to overloads and short circuits. It won’t protect against arcing conditions that could start fires.
Before working on your electrical DIY projects, check to see if you have an AFCI or a conventional circuit breaker. If you don’t have an AFCI, consider an upgrade before beginning your project.
Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)
The NEC also has guidelines in place for the use of electrical safety devices known as Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs). They work by protecting people from electric shock and electrocution caused by ground faults.
What are ground faults? A ground fault is when an unintentional electrical path results after a power source and a grounded surface come into contact with each other.
When your appliance becomes damaged or comes into contact with something wet, it can create problems. Your outlets could spark an electrical fire. Creative Commons Right In the Sockets by Jack Lawrence/ CC by 2.0
For instance, when an electrical appliance becomes damaged or even wet, an electrical current will spill outside of the circuit conductors. This leakage in current can result in major problems.
The GCRI was designed to prevent shocks that could prove fatal. It does this by monitoring the electricity flow into the circuit.
If it indicates a loss of current by finding that the electricity flow differs – even slightly – it will rapidly cut off power to the circuit.
Since GFCIs inclusion in the NEC in 1971, they have saved thousands of lives. Moreover, they have helped reduce the number of home electrocutions by half the amount.
Electrical safety regulations are put in place for your good to protect your family and residence. But they are only going to benefit you if you heed them.
As Thomas Edison once wisely stated, “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” These codes won’t protect you or anyone in your home if they are left unapplied.
Make sure that your home is compliant with electric safety regulations before embarking on any DIY electrical project.
When attempting any electrical installations at home, it also wouldn’t hurt to get your completed project tested by a fully qualified electrician and obtain a minor works certificate.
Legally you, not anyone else, are the person responsible for the safety of an electrical installation.
Having an Electrical Installation Certificate (EIC) or Minor Electrical Installation Works Certificate (MEIWC) will provide you with a declaration that the alteration you made was safe to use at the time it was put into service.
Make sure you keep the certificate you receive in a safe place. It will serve as the basis for any further inspection and testing.
Also, in the event life strikes and a fire is started or someone is injured, the certificate will serve as evidence that the electrical work had been installed to a satisfactory standard of safety. This will protect you when a claim is filed.
Not having an EIC or MEIWC may render your house insurance invalid. You may even find it difficult to sell your home down the road.
If you decide you’re comfortable with doing electrical projects yourself, then there are practical steps you can take to ensure your safety.
Electrical Safety 101
Before you get started, make sure you are only using approved materials to avoid unnecessary accidents. Also, alert everyone in your house that you are doing electrical work and that no one is to turn on the power while you’re working.
Get started by checking all the walls for wires and pipes prior to cutting for any new boxes and cables. You can make this easier on yourself by getting a detector to identify cables in the wall.
If everything checks out, you will turn the power off and take out the fuse from the circuit you are working on.
When it comes to the safety of yourself, your family, and your humble abode, the cardinal rule here is, when wiring or changing a light fitting, if you are in any doubt whatsoever, it’s better to get an electrician. Remember – electricity kills.
If you are not sure about how to select a qualified electrician, do not worry. It is not rocket science. Here is a quick checklist of five things to consider when you need to find an electrician you can trust.
- Check to see that he or she is truly qualified and has the necessary license and insurance required to do the job.
- Do your research and see what other professional electricians are charging. You need to make sure that their quote is fair and competitive.
- Consider the tasks involved in your project. If it will involve specialized work, make sure the electrician has experience in that field.
- Do your homework and see if somebody has recommended him or her. You can also ask if he or she can show you references.
- Feel the electrician out to see if that person’s attitude and appearance is professional.