Let’s be honest: contractors sometimes do shoddy work around Indianapolis. And homeowners in Johnson and Marion counties can’t always perform repairs well by themselves, no matter how many YouTube videos they watch. A lot of their poor work goes unnoticed until a home inspection reveals the mistakes… and dangers.
There’s a reason why fire and building codes are in place in Indiana and why people who purchase homes hire professional building inspectors. Electrical safety is important! Poor work can result in electrocution, fires, frustration, and power outages, among other problems.
There seems to be a trend to the types of mistakes (and plain bad work) that people in central Indiana make when working with a home electrical system. We’ve identified a number of electrical blunder trends and now present them to you.
Mistake No. 1: If only I had another plug …
Extension cords shouldn’t be used other than the way they’re intended. In other words, don’t use 3, 4, 5 … 10 cords to try and power all your blow dryers, trimmers, extra lighting, phone charger, etc. If you need more places to plug in, have a qualified electrician install some more outlets. Or charge up your phone in the other room.
Also, don’t use extension cords in place of permanent wiring. That means you don’t plug in a cord, run it through the wall, and plug in your lamp in the other room.
Mistake No. 2: Let’s break it down …
Electrical breaker boxes and control panels tend to be another place where homeowners and less-than-reputable electricians in the Indianapolis area make electrical flubs. For one, electrical boxes aren’t toolboxes, nor are they cabinets. You should not store toxic chemicals or canned food next to your breakers. If you need extra storage space, install a cabinet.
Breaker boxes also tend to be locations for wiring nightmares: Uninsulated wires, unattached breaker switches, multiple splices per wire, lack of grounding – the list goes on. For some reason, poor electrical work tends to culminate around these boxes. Again, contact a good electrician to help you here. You don’t want to get electrocuted when the lights go out and you’re flipping breakers in the dark.
Breaker boxes also tend to attract mice and rats. The boxes provide a cozy nesting area. And because of the electricity flowing through it, it can be nice and warm. It’s not uncommon, therefore, for inspectors (or horrified homeowners) to find live or electrocuted vermin trapped in these boxes. Just make sure the panels are well sealed and that the back is flush against the wall. Remember, mice can get in cracks as small as ¼ inch.
Mistake No. 3: Electricity doesn’t travel through water … or does it?
Central Indiana might not have any large lakes, but yes, electricity does travel through water. Although this fact is fairly well known in our region, certain Hoosiers tend to ignore it when installing electric cables, junction boxes, and breaker boxes. Why? Perhaps a pipe is in the way, or the pipe seems like it would make a good mount. Whatever the reasoning, it’s never a good idea to secure your breaker box to a water inlet pipe, nor should you hang your breaker box over the sump pit. You might also want to avoid resting a junction box on top of a cold water pipe.
Oh, and you might want to have an experienced electrician relocate that breaker box from above the sink in your bathroom.
And don’t ever put an electrical disconnect box under a working faucet.
Mistake No. 4: Ah, ah, ah, ah, stayin’ alive!
Wiring, in general, tends to get messy when a homeowner or bad electrician does the work. It’s not uncommon that they’ll run bare wires that they’ve stripped for one reason or another. These wires post a significant risk for electrocution and might cause fires.
Mistake No. 5: Thinking outside the box
Junction boxes are yet another place where local, do-it-yourself electricians fumble. They will sometimes replace junction boxes with cardboard (yes, cardboard). You should not do this. Some Hoosiers in central Indiana sometimes also replace the proper boxes with ammunition boxes. Yes, ammunition boxes are common in Indiana, but they aren’t meant for electrical applications. Nor should you use old, plastic oil cans. Those cans are meant for one purpose, and your electrical system certainly isn’t it.
Only use proper electrical equipment when working on your electrical system because the equipment is designed to function safely. (And – we’re surprised we even have to say it – it won’t get soggy, or burn.)
Junction boxes also tend to become rat’s nests of bad connections. No one should splice, say, five or six connections in one box. Doing so increases the risk of fire, and it creates an inefficient system as well.
Mistake No. 6: Call the … cable guy?
Last, people who prefer doing it themselves will often incorrectly place cables. Perhaps “place” isn’t the proper word. They incorrectly route cables. Ventilation pipes, for example, are not the proper place to run cables. If the cable is too short, purchase a longer one. Don’t drill a shortcut through the ventilation shaft.
If you do, you might end up with more shorts than just your chord.
Sure, some of these blunders seem funny, but they do happen! And when they do, they can cause so very-not-so-funny incidents. White’s Electrical can help with any home or light commercial project you have and will help keep you safe from the flubs listed above. Call or contact us today with questions or to request a quote.