Should You Hire an Electrical Contractor?

Hiring a licensed professional of any trade isn’t cheap. With a multitude of Youtube videos and online tutorials for how to do just about anything around the house, it might seem smarter to just do that electrical installation yourself. 

However, just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should. “I would try to steer anyone away from doing electrical work they’re not qualified for,” says Darrin Shakeshaft, owner of Twin Peaks Electrical in Burlington, ON. He points out that following a how-to is not the same as understanding what you’re doing. “Let’s say you install a receptacle without a proper ground connection. Now you have an ungrounded system which creates a hazard and could result in a shock or a fire.”

Common Mistakes

  • Shakeshaft says it’s not uncommon for people to cut off the ground (bare copper wire) when performing electrical work, thinking it’s not important. “A plug will work with just the black and white wire, but without a ground, now you have a hazard. And you wouldn’t know it until you get zapped.”

  • Another big one is over-fusing. “Someone keeps blowing a 15-amp fuse and replaces it with a 20-amp, because it works. They think they’ve fixed the problem.” In reality, he says, the wiring can’t handle the extra current and overheats, creating a fire hazard.
  • If your house was built around the 1970s, there’s a good chance it has aluminum wiring instead of copper. “Aluminum expands and contracts which can lead to loose connections over time,” says Shakeshaft. “This can cause arcing and fires.” Another mistake he sees is homeowners installing switches and receptacles that are not rated for aluminum wiring. “If you’re unsure of what type of wiring you have, I highly recommend you consult an electrical contractor.”

Friendly Advice

  • Electrical installations are the sort of work where if you have to ask, you probably should hire a professional. “With electrical safety codes changing every so often, it’s hard for do-it-yourselfers to stay safe and compliant,” says Shakeshaft. “And just because something works, that doesn’t mean it’s correct.” 

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