Some handy do-it-yourselfers are always looking for projects they can tackle around the house. It’s gratifying to save time and money by fixing something that most people would need to pay a professional to repair. But when it comes to electrical work, is it legal to do your own electrical work? And, if it is, should you?
Can I Do My Own Electrical Work?
The answer to whether or not you can do your own electrical work depends on your location and the project’s scope. In most states, it is legal to do your own electrical work if the project is not complex. However, some more involved electrical projects may not only require an electrical permit, but you will also be responsible for scheduling inspections with the city or county upon project completion.
Additionally, if you are a professional contractor, you must have a current license or certificate to perform electrical work to avoid potential fines. For example, the fine for practicing contracting in the Commonwealth of Virginia is up to $500 per day for each day the person is in violation, in addition to penalties for a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Should I Do My Own Electrical Work?
Just because it might be legal to do your own electrical work, that doesn’t always mean you should. Home electrical systems can be complex and even dangerous for inexperienced people to work on.
It’s perfectly normal for homeowners to feel hesitant to perform their own electrical work. It can be unnerving even after they’ve spent hours studying product installation manuals or watching how-to videos online. Plus, what might be a quick project for a trained electrical professional could turn out to be an all-day or weekend project for the novice.
Sometimes, the risk to yourself and your home and the amount of time the project takes may not be worth the money you save by doing it yourself, so you should contact a professional electrician — like Davis Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical. We provide electrical services in Rocky Mount, VA, and beyond!
Electrical Projects You May Be Able to Do Yourself
If you are confident that you can do your own electrical work, these are some projects you may be able to tackle yourself:
- Replacing a light switch or an electrical outlet: If you’re comfortable working with electricity and know how to turn off the power to the circuit you’re working on, replacing a light switch or outlet can be a simple and safe task.
- Replacing a ceiling fan: Replacing ceiling fans is often relatively straightforward, as long as you are comfortable working on a ladder, have the proper tools, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. In many cases, new ceiling fans don’t require significant adjustments from previous ceiling fans. However, you may want to get a professional to install a ceiling fan in a location where you didn’t have one before.
- Changing light fixtures: Changing light fixtures is a quick and easy way to update a room. Similarly to ceiling fans, new light fixtures are usually simple to install with minimal tools in areas where other light fixtures already exist. They typically involve only simple wiring that the DIY electrical enthusiast can master.
- Replacing a thermostat: Depending on the model you’ve selected, thermostats can also be an easy install for some homeowners. They typically only require a few wires to be disconnected and reattached to your new thermostat.
- Changing a hardwired smoke detector: Replacing hardwired smoke detectors often requires removing the old smoke detector and its base and reconnecting the new base and smoke detector using two wires. But be careful, as some smoke detector systems are interconnected. This means that all interconnected alarms will also go off when one alarm goes off. Interconnected hardwired smoke detectors usually feature an extra wire that needs to be connected correctly for the system to work and to pass an electrical home inspection.
Even if you feel like you can do your own electrical work, safety precautions should be taken when tackling any project involving electricity. Be sure to turn off the power to the appropriate system and follow any instructions carefully. If you spot any damaged wires or corrosion or feel like you can’t do your own electrical work, stop and contact a licensed electrical professional.
Electrical Projects You Shouldn’t Do Yourself
Some home wiring projects may be too complex or dangerous for homeowners to perform themselves. Not only do they require specialized tools and equipment, but they may also require an understanding of local codes and regulations to complete them correctly. Sometimes, it may also not be legal to do your own electrical work on these projects. So even if you feel you can do your own electrical work on these projects, you probably shouldn’t.
- Electrical panel work or circuit additions: Working on your home’s electrical panel or adding circuits requires a thorough understanding of electrical systems and safety procedures. You should not work on your electrical panel unless you are an experienced electrical technician.
- Wiring repairs: Replacing electrical wiring in your home can be hazardous and expose you to live wires and the risk of electrocution.
- Outdoor electrical work: Outdoor lighting, underground wiring, or any electrical components connected to pools or water features must be installed properly to protect them from the elements and any users from electrocution.
- Replacing major appliances: A professional should install any major appliances that require adjustments to your electrical system. Failure to install them properly can result in damage to your appliance and may void its warranty.
Who to Call When You Need Electrical Services
When your lights flicker or a fixture isn’t working, you may ask yourself, “Is it legal to do my own electrical work?” But equally as important is asking yourself, “Should I do my own electrical work?” Don’t worry or feel embarrassed if the thought of working on wires isn’t something for you. Electrical systems are complex and can be very dangerous for people who don’t have experience working on them or who aren’t familiar with safety procedures.
When you need electrical service, contact Davis Heating, Cooling, Plumbing & Electrical, a licensed local electrician in Rocky Mount, VA. Leave the electrical work to us and enjoy the results provided by our experienced professional electricians.