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Replacing Switches And Receptacles In A Home – DIY Pitfalls


You have two choices when it comes to replacing your switches and receptacles at home, do it yourself or get a professional in to take care of the job for you. This is where many people make the mistake of thinking that it is small job that they can easily handle themselves.

Unfortunately this is not always the case. There is a reason why electricians spend years training and gain certificates in electrical knowledge; there is more to it than simply having two or three cables connected together.

Unless you are extremely confident in your own skills it is advisable to have a professional carry out a safety inspection of your home and use them to fix any issues. Of course, you may still think you can easily handle the job, if this is the case then you should consider these common pitfalls:

Connecting outside the receptacle

Connections completed outside of the receptacle are at risk of being damaged, overheating and even short circuiting. Without the receptacle to contain these effects it is possible to start a fire; which could be devastating.

Wires too short

It is tempting to simply pull the wires and make them fit rather than extend them. Unfortunately this dramatically increases the chances of a wire coming out when you put it back together; causing a short or even making the outside of the socket live.

Not Protecting cables

All cables should be protected by plastic trunking. This will stop you from accidentally drilling into them. Any accidental damage can short the wires, giving you a shock or increasing the chances of a fire starting.

Inadequate support for sockets

A very common issue is not to use the correct fixings for your recessed receptacles and switches. The result is that they can disappear into the wall or even come out when you attempt to unplug your device. In the process of grabbing the plug you could easily give yourself a lethal shock.

Of course, it might only be the cables which move around. But this can still cause a short in your system and a potentially disastrous fire.

Skipping the Earth connection

Sometimes it is not obvious where the earth connection goes or you may think that the product does not need an earth. While this is true for some items if you wire a switch or receptacle without an earth when it needs one you will remove your safety feature.

The earth cable sends any loose electricity to the ground, instead of continuing to run through your body; if this is not connected there is nothing to stop you receiving a continuous shock; which could be deadly.

Squeezing Too Many Cables Into One Box

This is a common occurrence but one which can have deadly consequences. Too many cables in one place will cause a heat build-up which can create a fire issue; especially if the receptacle has been sunk into the wall and is next to exposed wood.

Electricity is dangerous and should be treated with respect, if you have any doubts about what you are doing get professional help!