Electricity is a must-have utility, but it can also be incredibly dangerous. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding electrical work, especially when it comes to DIY. Mistakes with electricity can be deadly, so it’s important to be knowledgeable and take the appropriate safety precautions when working with power lines, wiring, outlets, and appliances in your home.
Here’s what to know and how our experienced Boston electricians can help you optimize your home electrical system.
1. Turning Off Your Appliances Is Enough To Stop Them From Using Energy
Switching off your appliances doesn’t actually stop them from using electricity completely. Computers, lamps, televisions, radios, washing machines, window air conditioners, and other appliances will continue to use a very small amount of energy when off. This can add up over time, raising your utility costs and stressing your electrical system.
While the electricity that runs through your house isn’t as much that goes through say, a power line or a transformer, that doesn’t mean that it’s a safe amount. In fact, no amount of electricity is safe to come into contact with. Household currents can cause major electric shocks, fires, and even death.
Many people think that wood is like plastic and doesn’t conduct electricity. While that’s partially true and wood isn’t a very good conductor, it still has the ability to transfer electricity, particularly while wet. This is because wood is highly porous and absorbs a lot of water, and water is an excellent conductor of electricity.
While 100% rubber does protect against electrical current, most rubber gloves are mixed with cheaper materials and may not be labeled as such. They may look, feel, and even smell like real rubber, but contain a small amount of some other material that turns the gloves into a conductor for electricity instead of an insulator.
It’s a common misconception that all residential power lines are insulated, making them reasonably safe to touch or handle on the outside. In reality, almost no power lines are insulated, or their insulation has been damaged over time by storms, birds, or trees.
If you touch a power line while standing on the ground or being connected to the ground in any way, you make a complete circuit and are highly likely to get seriously or even fatally shocked.
While old wiring certainly causes more electrical problems than newer wiring, having recently updated or replaced it doesn’t preclude you from future issues.
For example, rodents can chew through the insulation of brand new wiring, resulting in a short or exposed wire. And if you plug too many appliances into a circuit causing it to overload, it won’t matter that the wiring is new — your system only has as much capacity as it has. Make sure you’re regularly inspecting your wiring, outlets, and appliances for electrical problems, regardless of the age of your wiring.
Most people think nothing of extension cords, assuming they’re a safe way to get electricity from point A to point B. But there are actually an average of 3,300 home fires every year that are caused solely by extension cords that were faulty or damaged, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International.
It’s best to use them in an emergency and look for a more permanent solution. If you need to use extension cords ongoing, replace them frequently and check them often for signs of damage. Don’t use cords that are discolored or melted around the plug or that make sounds when they’re connected to power.
Many people think that if a power line or electrical wire is live, it will spark and that if a wire isn’t sparking, it’s not live. This isn’t true, and you should always treat wires as though they are live. Don’t touch them and leave any problems to an electrician who can safely handle the wires and make any needed repairs.
If you’re troubleshooting an electrical problem in your home or are interested in replacing your panel, the veteran Boston electricians at N.E.T.R., Inc. can help. Our professional electrical workers will visit your home to assess the issue and recommend a solution that works best for you. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a home visit now by dialing (781) 933-6387.