Understanding When You Need an Electrician and When You Don’t

Jan 20, 2022

The DIY era deserves some applause. It makes people self-reliant and you can save a lot of money you’d otherwise spend on hiring someone to handle a project for you.

However, electrical jobs rarely ever fall under DIY projects because of the danger involved –whether it’s immediately obvious or not.

Recent reports say about 20 deaths occur in Australia from electrocution every year, with more than 50% of them occurring in the home. The saddest part about it is that these tragedies are preventable and electrical appliances –which seem like an obvious DIY fix –are the second-most common cause of electrocution.

This article takes an in-depth look at which electrical jobs you can do on your own, which ones require an expert and the risks involved in repairing electrical faults without proper training.

Which Electrical Needs You Can I Safely Work on Alone?

Although Australian electricity safety regulations are stricter than in most countries, there’s an allowance for small electrical repairs and jobs you can handle without a license:

1. Replacing a Light Bulb

If the problem is only the bulb and not the fitting or wiring, you can change it yourself. However, if you’re changing from halogen to LED downlights, you’re better off working with an electrician so they can change the fitting too and decide on other aspects such as light fitting classification, whether to fit a socket outlet or junction box, etc.

2. Installing Low-Voltage Garden Lighting

In most cases, you can do this safely but there’s an often dismissed catch about working on low voltage electrical jobs: it’s not the voltage that is harmful, but the current coursing through a wire. Sometimes, low-voltage wiring can draw a current that is too high for a layperson.

Even when that doesn’t happen, low-voltage can expend mild shocks that can startle you and make you fall off a ladder.

If you’re working with exterior lighting décor, you need an electrician to help you design it right and to help give off the effects you’d want.

3. Rewiring Fuses

Rewiring an old model blown old fuse can be as easy as finding out the amperage rate of the blown fuse from a hardware store, switching off the main switch, unscrewing the old one, and screwing in the new one.

But when you’re working with modern fuse models and old wiring, you need an electrician to inspect the wiring and make repairs to avoid a disaster.

4. Replacing a Wire Plug

This process is fairly easy and involves little contact with power. You only need to cut off the damaged plug, split and slice the jacket, twist the wires to ensure there are no stray wires, attach them to the terminal screws of a new plug, reassemble the new plug and test the cord.

There’s always an option to call an electrician if you need to change multiple plugs, or when plugging the new plug into a socket produces a buzzing sound.

What are Common Electrical Needs I Need an Electrician to Handle?

Here are three of the most common electrical issues in the home and the risks involved in trying to sort them out yourself:

1. Circuit Breaker Issues

Your circuit breaker is the first line of defense against damage caused by power overloads or short-circuiting by interrupting current when a fault is detected. Occasional tripping means it’s working fine in preventing damage caused by overloads but when it trips repetitively, it’s a sign that there’s a fault somewhere else.

Attempting to fix it yourself may set you up for electrocution. Plus you may not keep the safety equipment you need in the house –safety goggles, insulated tools such as an insulated flashlight, and different screwdrivers that are insulated against currents (some as high as 1000volts). Secondly, it’s against the law to fix it if you’re not a licensed electrician.

2. Surges, Sags, and Dips

A surge occurs when there is a spike in the charge within power lines, which increases the amount of current flowing to your home’s outlets –often during storms. Surges cause rapid on and off actions in home appliances or tripping in safety switches.

Sags and dips on the other hand create sporadic drops in electrical voltage that cause lights to dim and brighten alternately.

These problems are often caused by appliances plugged into faulty outlets or outdated panels.

The risk in trying to solve this problem is flickering lights and tripping safety switches may be hidden signs of a bigger electrical problem rather than just a faulty appliance.

If the problem is with power lines, trying to fix it could cost you your life and in any case, you’re not allowed to touch or go near any power lines.

3. Few or Dead Outlets

The immediate problem in this kind of scenario is overloading the available outlets and running the risk of causing a fire when the outlet overheats or fatally electrocuting someone.

The solution here would be to avail more outlets or buy a heavy-duty surge protector. However, if the case is dead outlets, meddling with them could spark a fire and damage your property.

Because availing more outlets and replacing dead ones requires dealing with hazardous wiring, an electrician is better placed to do it for you.

4. Changing a Light Fitting

Granted, lighting fixtures can serve you for years without demanding as much as occasional changes to burnt-out bulbs.

But sometimes, the issue is not the bulb, and adjusting the socket doesn’t solve the problem. In this case, the problem is usually a fault that interrupts the flow of electricity flow from the wall switch to the light fixture.

Most of the time, the culprit is loose wire connections on the switch, at the circuit breaker panel, or in a pass-through wire connection in the wall box or ceiling box- if you’re dealing with a ceiling light.

You need a licensed electrician for this by law and getting caught can attract heavy penalties.

5. Installing a Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans are quite heavy more so if they have metal blades. Beyond ensuring that the fan’s wiring connects well with the rest of the homes’ wiring, a licensed electrician can help determine the weight it adds to your ceiling to prevent the ceiling from caving in or collapsing altogether.

More than that, if the fan weighs more than 15 pounds, it requires special hardware (electrical boxes) and special equipment for mounting if it weighs much more than 15 pounds.

Also, if your ceiling fan comes with a lighting fixture, you require special insulation because these kinds of fixtures generate more heat. An electrician will do a better job gauging how much insulation is needed.

6. Changing a Light Switch

The Australian law dictates that you need to call in an electrician to change a light switch because you’ll have to interact with the wiring. In any case, a light switch with black or brown marks around can easily blow or start a fire. You may also have a bigger problem than a light switch where replacing a light switch doesn’t work.

7. Installing Power Poles

It goes without saying that power lines and power poles are solely in an electrician’s scope of work. Additionally, you still need maintenance from an electrician after private power poles installation.

Other than that, level 2 services such as new connection, meter protection device installation, barge fuse installation and repair, storm damage repairs, etc., cannot be conducted by even a layman with electrical knowledge.

Where to Get Expert Electrical Services

Although fixing things yourself means saving a dollar or two, your safety and your loved ones’ cannot be equated to any amount of money.

By engaging a licensed electrician, you’re buying years of experience and training in school and on the job to help keep your home in top shape as far as electricity needs are concerned.

If you’re looking for affordable, yet quality electrical services, including level 2 services, contact us at Everest Electrical today.