As your local electrician in Dundonald and the surrounding areas I often come across electrics that are, well let’s say not up to a good level for safety. Holidays or lockdowns may seem like the perfect time to give your home a well needed fix-up with some DIY tips you probably found online. However these tips aren’t always the safest and could leave you with a bigger problem on your hands.
Almost half of all electric shocks described as severe are the result of a DIY error, so it’s important to know your limits when it comes to conducting over-ambitious works within your home. Not only this, but it could end up costing you more money than it’s worth since a botched DIY project could put you at risk of invalidating warranties and affect your ability to sell your home!
I have put together a list of tasks that can be done without professional help so long as the accompanying important tips for avoiding mistakes are followed.
So if you’re itching to give your home a little makeover, these are what I recommend:
Wiring a plug:
When you buy a plug make sure you get it from a reputable retailer and not a third-party seller on an online marketplace.
Always check the plug visually before installing it as there is a British standard that plug tops should conform to, the plug should be marked with BS 1363 and also have an approval mark such as the BSI “kitemark”, the Nemko “N” mark or an ASTA “diamond mark. Follow any wiring instructions provided by the manufacturer. Handy how to wire a plug video
If you have an appliance that’s been bought in another country always use a conversion plug (which is different from a travel adapter), do not fit a UK plug to a foreign appliance.
WARNING: Replacing a plug with a non like for like could potentially invalidate your warranty so always ask the manufacturer if it is ok to do so before cutting it off or replacing it.
WARNING: NEVER attempt to make your own extension lead or wire two plugs on each end of a length of cable to extend power.
Replacing a light bulb
Make sure you purchase bulbs (lamps) from a reputable retailer and not a third-party seller on an online marketplace.
Check the wattage and voltage rating of the bulb you want to replace and take a note or photograph of the bulb and its connection type and size (screw type or push fit)
Before replacing your bulb make sure to turn off the electrical supply to the circuit either at the correct fuse or the main switch.
WARNING: An incorrect wattage or volts, as well as the wrong type of lamp, can lead to overheating and potential fire, so ensure the details match the ones you’re replacing
Checking operation of an RCD
An RCD or “trip switch” is a sensitive safety device on your fuse box that disconnects the electricity in the event of a fault, because the RCD switches of so quickly (milliseconds) It protects you from getting a fatal electric shock should you happen to touch an exposed live conductor such as a bare wire or metal case.
Its easy to check if you have an RCD installed when you look at your fuse box you should see a device (switch) with a pushbutton marked “T” or “Test” Handy video on RCD’s
RCD’s are also sometimes installed directly on a socket outlet and will have the same markings; you should test your RCD every 6 months simply by pushing the test button and checking the electricity has switched off.
WARNING: If you hold the test button in for a long time and the RCD does not switch off the electricity supply, then get advice from a registered electrician.
Before drilling a hole in your wall to nail a picture…
Make sure you’re not about to drill through a cable, which could risk you getting a serious electric shock and the damage is very expensive to put right
To do this, ensure there are no sockets or switches either vertically or horizontally aligned with the hole you’re about to drill
WARNING: If you do damage a cable and the fuse blows or the circuit-breaker trips – don’t try to remove any screw/nail that might be left in – and don’t try to repair the damaged cable yourself. Instead, call in a registered electrician.
Installing plug-in garden lighting
Again, always buy your lighting product from a reputable seller and not a third-party seller on an online marketplace and ask the retailer if it is suitable for external use
Concentrate lighting the most attractive features in the garden and do not try to light everything up, this will generate a much better ambience, also make sure they are not shining into a neighbour’s window.
I recommend always buying LED lights as opposed to traditional filaments because of a number of benefits such as a reduction in risk from electric shock and a significant reduction in energy consumption of between 80-90% saving you money in the long run, they also last much longer and light output does not deteriorate over time
Exterior lights should have an IP rating (Ingress protection) which is a scale of how well it can withstand external conditions, for external lights look for and IP rating with the last number of three or higher, a light marked with a symbol should not be used outdoors.
Ensure you use a socket outlet that is also suitable for outdoor use and that it is protected by an RCD.
WARNING: Some outdoor lights can get hot, so place out of reach of small children.
WARNING: Only attempt plug-in lighting yourself – get a registered electrician in for anything more complex.