Electrical 1: Electrical Safety

During my years as a carpenter in heavy construction, that is construction of industrial and commercial projects such as mine buildings and machine bases to hospitals and schools, I've experienced first hand the various trades involved in my industry. Most men and women are conscientious tradespeople adept in their particular trade. As a carpenter I worked closely with the various trades and picked up some of their skills and knowledge along the way. I noticed with electricians, in particular, how organized and orderly their work was. Electrical wires were routed along cable ways and into electrical panel boxes in a very neat and orderly fashion. When I had the opportunity to wire my own house I bought a book on the Electrical Code and purchased a permit for homeowners doing their own electrical wiring from my local government department. I used the principles I learned from watching electrical tradesmen and applied it with the electrical code requirements as I read the book. As a backup I hoped the electrical inspector would slap my hand if I made a mistake. I was reprimanded on only one fault, not putting in a large enough electrical breaker and cable to a 60 gallon hot water tank. The book suggested the electrical wiring and breaker for a 40 gallon tank, which was smaller. No problem, I easily changed the electrical breaker and upgraded the electrical wire accordingly. Luckily I had an electrical inspector watching my back.

Safety First, Especially Electrical Safety!

During the construction of this website, I've answered questions on simple electrical wiring problems. I want to make it clear here that those not experienced in the basic principles of electrical wiring of lights, plugs and switches in their home should not attempt it without realizing the consequences that their errors may have. If a fire was caused by your negligence or oversight your house insurance may not cover the damage. If removing the electrical panel cover to change a breaker, even though the main electrical breaker is turned off, the electrical panel is still hot. Handling electricity in the home may cause serious injury, death or a fire.

If you want to do electrical wiring in your home, I strongly recommend purchasing a book on the subject that is up to date with the current electrical codes and taking out a permit, if allowed, from your local jurisdiction. The permit provides a backup in case of error, although don't depend on the inspector finding every error you have made. Some homeowners, to reduce the electricians time and ultimately the cost of labor, make an agreement that the homeowner does the electrical work under the supervision of the electrical contractor. This is another form of backup. Of course, the electrical contractor usually has to be a friend or have the confidence in the homeowner to agree with such a proposal. If you are not willing to learn the electrical codes or do not feel confident in performing this work, by all means hire a professional electrical contractor to do the job for you.

The following articles show the ways of connecting 3 way electrical switches, etc. but by no means advocates changing the electrical wiring in your home without the full knowledge of the electrical codes for your area and the consequences of your causing an accident.

Work Safe!!


(Ask Dave) (About Dave)

Your source for building tips, woodworking & furniture plans, house plans and building advice directly from Dave...

Hi, I'm Dave Osborne. With over 50 years experience as a journeyman carpenter, foreman and contractor in heavy construction I enjoyed working with apprentices and sharing the tricks of the trade that others shared with me. Now I get emails from Members all over the world and we include many of my answers in our Free Monthly Newsletters. Some of my answers include drawings and instructions specific to a project, but may also answer your questions. I use correct construction terminology, so you can confidently inform your building supply dealers or contractors exactly what you need.


The Benefits of Membership

Membership gives you full access to our hundreds of how-to articles, woodworking plans, converters, calculators and tables. Our Stair Calculator is one of the most popular on the internet. We have projects you can build for (and with) your kids, furniture for your wife, and sheds and gazebos. If you run into a problem or need advice your Membership includes unlimited email questions to me through our Ask Dave quick response button.

Join us!