Electrical Blog11 Things Christchurch Electricians Want You To Know

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Whether you’re looking to add a light fixture or run rough electric for an addition, here are a few key facts that your Christchurch electrician wishes you knew.

Don’t Ignore Warning Signs

The most important thing any electrician will tell you: Never, ever ignore the warning signs of a problem within your electrical system. Whether that be a popping noise from an outlet, a light switch that runs extremely hot, or a breaker that won’t reset, it’s important that you take every issue seriously in order to prevent the problem from escalating and becoming more severe. 

Fortunately, most electrical issues can be resolved relatively quickly as long as they’re not allowed to fester. 

Understand GFCI

Bathroom circuit failures are among the most common service calls electricians get. By code, all outlets within 6 feet of a water source must be protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). The role of this component is to cut off power if a circuit loses amperage. GFCI’s are therefore most commonly seen in bathrooms and exterior outlets.

A singular GFCI device is capable of protecting everything else “downstream” on that specific circuit. This is a key feature as bathrooms are often not on an isolated circuit, a triggered GFCI will kill the power to outlets and lights that may seem unrelated. It can be even more confusing for a household owner if the GFCI is installed at the electrical breaker box itself.

Overhead Power Lines Are Live!

Overhead lines are normally NOT insulated. You may be confused when you see birds on them, they are only alive because they aren’t completing the circuit by touching the ground or offering the current an easier path than following the cable itself.

The majority of outdoor power lines are weather coated at most, with no insulation other than spacers at utility poles. Because they are so high above the ground, this isn’t an issue unless the lines fall, or someone comes into contact with them from a ladder. Lines that could be touched from a rooftop or a tree are generally insulated. However, this insulation degrades over time, eventually crumbling and revealing bare wire.

It is best to have the same approach to all overhead lines as they are dangerous. Any problems are best left to a licensed electrician or utility worker.

Know Your DIY Limits

Being capable of DIY jobs is a handy set of skills to have. It is a great way to learn about your home and develop your skills and self-reliance. But it’s just as important to know the boundaries and limitations of your skills.

If you are a DIY newbie, Electricians in Bromley recommend that you only work on electrical components outside of the wall. As you develop your skills and learn more as an amateur electrician, you can do more advanced work, such as fishing cable and adding outlets if your local building department allows it. 

DIY problems often incur when DIY enthusiasts with more enthusiasm than experience tackle an electrical project, then bury their less-than-perfect work behind a layer of drywall.

Christchurch Electrician wiring advice

DIY projects can save you some extra cost, but not doing it properly can do more harm than good

White Isn’t Always Neutral, and Black Isn’t Always Live

We know that this is contradicting best practices. However, your electrician will understand that a home electrical system is large and complicated. Dozens of people may have worked on it, many of whom may not have been trained properly or following the code. Therefore, when opening up an electrical outlet, you may find a bewildering bird’s nest of wires, electrical tape and wire nuts.

That doesn’t mean you cannot work on it, but it does mean that you need to be careful and not make any assumptions. We recommend that you always use a non-contact voltage tester to verify that the line is dead before proceeding.

Low Voltage Doesn’t Mean No Danger

A low-voltage system is not as dangerous as working on your electrical breaker box. But Christchurch electricians want you to still take basic precautions.

Treat the low-voltage wiring as though it were standard, taking all necessary precautions and steps to ensure that nothing goes “haywire”. By doing so, you’ll also pick up the best practices that will come in handy when working in higher voltage situations. Do keep in mind that it is not the voltage that is harmful, but the current. Sometimes even low-voltage wiring can draw a higher than safe current.

When working with low-voltage wiring, it’s more common to receive a mild shock that can come as a surprise to the installer and can cause them to fall from a ladder or step stool.

Keep in mind the importance of securing connections! A spark from a poorly secured low-voltage connection can ignite combustible materials just as easily as that from a 110v junction. 

Vampires are Real!

Vampire draws suck dollars out of your wallet. Electrical devices with a “standby” or “sleep” mode or alternatively things that use remote controls always need a steady stream of power to wake up quickly. In addition, charging devices such as phone chargers and laptop chargers draw power even when they are not plugged into their device. 

If your energy bills are high or if you are looking at becoming more energy-efficient, check for “vampire” devices as potential culprits causing this issue.

Protective Gear Is Only Protective If It’s Properly Made

Most people are aware that rubber is a great insulator, and therefore, DIYers use rubber boots and gloves before tackling electrical projects. The issue with this is that most household rubber isn’t pure. In order to keep the cost of production down, manufacturers mix in additives that increase durability properties. If you are relying on rubber to keep you safe from an electrical charge, make sure you use proper safety gear from a trusted brand.

You Can’t Install a Three-Slot Receptacle Without a Ground Wire

If you have two-slot outlets, it’s tempting to replace them with three-slot outlets so you can plug in three-prong plugs. But don’t do this unless you’re sure there’s a ground available.

Use a tester to see if your outlet is grounded. A series of lights indicates whether the outlet is wired correctly or what fault exists. These testers are readily available at home centres and hardware stores. If you discover a three-slot outlet in an ungrounded box, the easiest fix is to simply replace it with a two-slot outlet as shown.

Never Tape or Hold Down a Circuit Breaker

If you ask any electrician a circuit breaker works because they break the circuit. If your breaker keeps popping, you need to find and fix the problem.

Holding the breaker down with tape is not a solution and is dangerous. By doing this, you are setting yourself up for a major problem. Forcing the breaker to maintain contact is a recipe for disaster and should be avoided at all costs.

You Should Definitely Consider Tamper-Resistant Receptacles

Tamper-resistant receptacles stop a kid from inserting an object such as a paper clip. They’re required for all locations, indoors and out. Tamper-resistant receptacles are a great invention, so use them!

You Don’t Have To Be an Electrician to Work with Electricity

Many of these tips are simply for cautionary purposes. They are not intended to scare you away from doing your own electrical work. Christchurch electricians actually encourage homeowners to learn how to do basic electrical work. However, know your limits and if you are unsure phone your electrician. 

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