Handyman electrical work is something I come across on a regular basis. Electrical work can be expensive, so DIY work in this arena makes perfect sense if possible.
During a recent inspection on Lopez Island, I found yet another example of handyman electrical work when I discovered exposed Romex electrical wiring within a covered porch that needed to be sleeved in conduit or otherwise protected from mechanical damage.
Wiring should always be protected from the elements, and properly installed. If you are going to be a handyman, make sure your work is safe.
If you have questions or comments about electrical issues or home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).
Surprisingly, electrical issues are common discoveries at home inspections, with the most common being improperly wired switches, outlets, and handyman/unprofessional wiring practices. Purchasing an outlet tester (costs less than $10) is a simple, quick way to determine if your home’s outlets are correctly wired. You’ll probably be surprised to find a few in your home! Unless you’re entirely confident and competent, I recommend hiring a licensed, bonded, and insured electrician to perform any and all electrical work.
If you DIY and your work doesn’t appear professional (think PERFECT), it will likely be called out by a home inspector when your home is sold. Competent electricians are fastidious and “fussy” with their work (it’s their signature after all), and there’s nothing better than a “fussy” electrician I like to say!
Be sure to check with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries, as most electrical work requires a permit and final inspection. Permits are easily obtainable and inexpensive. Furthermore, having a third-party review of electrical work is just another layer of safety and insulation against potential future electrical issues. Plus, it’s the law! Finally, for the DIY homeowners out there, a great book is “For Pros by Pros: Wiring a House” by Rex Cauldwell. I’ve relied on this book for years of building and remodeling. It’s excellent!
If you have questions or comments about electrical work, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).
Every month, we seek to bring our readers insight from the worlds of home construction, home repair, and home maintenance straight from local Northwest Washington contractors in a segment we call “3 Questions.” Yep, you guessed it: we ask three questions, and the contractors answer them.This month, we learn about electrical issues with Gunnar Melnick, owner of Melnick Electric.
Q1: I’ve noticed that my light dimmer switch is hot to the touch. Is this an issue that I should be concerned about and have repaired right away?
When you encounter a warm dimmer, make sure it’s not burning to the touch. Dimmers can be warm from the current passing through them, but they should never be hot to the touch. If you encounter a hot dimmer switch, call your local licensed electrician to service it.
Q2: I have a newer home with those fancy AFCI, GFCI, and dual-function circuit breakers (e.g., the breakers in the electrical panel that have “test” buttons). Periodically, I lose power in a circuit and have to reset some of these breakers. Is this normal or should I be concerned?
AFCI and GFCI breakers are a new standard for safety. They both have two jobs that will save your home (and even your life) from an electrical fire or shock. Whether the device has been installed in a new home or older, if you ever have a tripping breaker, you should call a licensed electrician to come and inspect the circuit.
Q3: These new tamper-resistant outlets in my home are driving me crazy! Sometimes, it can be impossible to insert an appliance plug. Do you have any advice to help with this common complaint?
Tamper-resistant outlets are a wonderful safety feature for any home. They’re designed to keep anything that’s not an appliance plug out, such as paper clips, forks, or small objects. When trying to plug in appliances, try to angle the prongs so the left prong enters first, following with the right and the lower. When all else fails, a little wiggling helps with these outlets.
About Melnick Electric Gunnar Melnick is the owner of Melnick Electric in Oak Harbor, Wash. The business is licensed, bonded, and insured. Contact Gunnar at 360-720-4764.
A big “thanks” to Gunnar for his responses!
If you have questions or comments about plumbing issues or home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).