To D-I-Y, or Not to D-I-Y

Knowing when and when not to could mean the difference between DO or D-I-E!

Posted on May 31 2017 in Features

When planning home improvement projects — especially those that involve electrical work — do you know when to DIY and when to hire a professional? Here are some tips to keep in mind.

Those wanting to do it themselves can tackle many types of projects, but when safety becomes an issue, seek a professional with appropriate equipment, training and insurance. For example, painting your bedroom may be a safe weekend project, but climbing a tall ladder for an exterior paint job can be a safety risk.

To avoid electrocution and fires, leave electrical issues to professional contractors. Home rewiring, breaker box replacement and updating electrical outlets with USB ports are among tasks you should consider leaving for the pros.

Qualified electricians can ensure that your home’s wiring is up to modern safety code standards. They conduct home electrical system inspections that will identify problem areas. These inspections often take place before buying a home or shortly afterward.

Take it from electric co-op experts: Faulty electrical installations can cause shocks, fires and other dangers that could have been completely avoided if the job had been done properly.

Your home also might give you hints that you need an electrician’s help. If you feel shocks or tingles from appliances, you may have a ground fault issue. If your ceiling fixtures are warm or lights flicker, that may be a sign of loose wiring. If an outlet emits a burning odor or sparks, shut down the electrical panel right away and call for help. This puts you at risk for a fire.

Do you live in a home built before 1950 with old-fashioned knob and tube wiring? This wiring creates a risk of faults and fires and simply can’t handle the electrical load of modern houses. Replacing this wiring, which was the top choice from the 1880s to the 1930s, typically costs between $8,000 and $15,000 for an average home.

Before you need an electrical contractor, if possible, do some research and choose a skilled electrician. Most homeowners call electricians in emergencies or when they’re building or remodeling. But if you choose a contractor in advance, he or she can inspect your home’s systems regularly and could discover emerging problems before they become major issues.