Be safe

When you do renovations, electricity is sometimes relegated to the rank of detail. However, it’s important to keep the electrical distribution in your house healthy by calling on a professional.

iStockphoto
iStockphoto

As the years go by, and more and more renovations are made by unqualified people, the electrical installations in your house could be in danger.

Renovating your home is the ideal occasion to have your electrical installation inspected.

First you have to find the circuit breaker that feeds the room. If your project involves opening walls or the ceiling, you can take the opportunity to check the wires and look for hidden defects.

Be careful: the sheath that covers the wires must not be cut, crushed, pierced or even crumbling. If material remains from the old shunt (circuit made up of a circuit breaker, wiring and electrical devices), make sure that the materials are removed or the power supply has been shut off.

iStockphoto
iStockphoto

It is strictly forbidden to hide a junction box or cut live wire behind a wall with no possibility of accessing it. If you don’t plan to open the walls, make sure that the devices (switches and outlets, etc.) and joints between conductors (under the connectors) are tight. Make sure that all elements that make up the electrical distribution are grounded. Your safety depends on it.

When making an electrical change, it’s crucial that you not mix up the various types of material. Many residences constructed in the 80s were wired with aluminium conductors. If that’s what you have in your house, keep in mind that you must never use copper to add to or replace elements. A connection between two types of materials will catalyze premature oxidation of the connection and you risk having a fire in the medium term. Today, certain wires and electrical devices are sold to solve this problem, but you should talk to an expert.

You shouldn’t exceed 80% of the capacity of a shunt (circuit made up of a circuit breaker, wiring and electrical devices) in order to avoid an excessive load. For example: if a 15A 120V circuit breaker feeds a room’s lighting and outlets, the total load in this room should not exceed 1440W (15 x 120 X 80%).

Overloading greatly reduces the life expectancy of the electrical installation. Keep this principle in mind when you decide to add outlets or lights, or simply when connecting a new element on an existing shunt.

If your residence is still equipped with a fuse box and some of them are constantly burning out, it is strictly forbidden to change your fuses for more powerful ones. Your wires can handle the extra load for a certain period, but eventually the sheaths around the wires will dry out and crumble, and you risk having a fire inside your walls.

In all cases involving electrical work, be aware that a panoply of standards are in place to ensure a safe and insurable installation. Do business with a certified professional for an effective and sustainable solution.

Thank you to P-E, a recently certified young electrician, for his advice that could save lives.

Photos: iStockphoto

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