Electrical Wiring Safety - Central County Fire & Rescue

Electrical Wiring Safety

DIY home wiring projects should not be undertaken lightly.

Failing to take the proper precautions or to use the right tools can put you and your family in danger. Common risks include electrocution and possible electrical fire.

We at CCFR strongly advise working with a professional to get these projects done safely and smoothly.

Wiring Tips

Confident that you know what you’re doing? Be sure to keep these safety tips in mind to avoid hazards during your home wiring project.

  1. Power Off
    Make sure the power is off at the breaker before you start and use a voltage tester to verify that
    wires and/or electrical connections are completely dead before you start working on them. Make sure
    everyone in your home is aware that electrical work is going on. Tape the circuit breaker into the off position.
  2. Be Careful What You Touch
    Never touch plumbing or gas pipes while working with electricity they are often used to ground electrical systems.
  3. Use The Right Tools
    Before you begin, make sure you have a plan in place as to what outlets, switches and fixtures will be involved in your project. Make sure you have all the appropriate tools, including but not limited to: needlenose pliers, wire cutters, cable & wire stripper, fish & colored tape, voltage tester, continuity tester, electric & rightangle drill. You may be able to rent some of this equipment from your local hardware store.
  4. Buy The Right Parts
    If you are installing new receptacles make sure the new ones match the wiring in your home. A AL-CU stamp means it can be used on aluminum and copper wiring. If it is unmarked or there is a slash through the AL if should only be used on copper wiring.
  5. Include A Junction Box
    Never splice wires together and conceal them within a wall without a junction box — an accessible junction box should always be used to join wires.
  6. Replace Old Wiring That Shows Signs Of Deterioration or Fraying
  7. Fix Fuse and Breaker Problems
  8. Don’t Overload
    Overloaded outlets or extension cords can create a fire hazard.

Homes With Aluminum Wiring
According to the CPSC, homes wired with “old technology” aluminum wire — manufactured before 1972 — are 55
TIMES more likely to have one or more connections that will reach “fire hazard conditions” than a home wired with

That’s because of deterioration processes in the aluminum that cause increased resistance to the flow of
electricity, which can result in overheating, sometimes at hazardous levels, when current is flowing in the circuit.
Signs of electrical system problems include:
● hot to the touch face plates on receptacles or switches
● flickering lights
● circuits that don’t work
● the smell of burning plastic at outlets or switches

If your home is wired with aluminum, you can replace or repair it to permanently reduce the risk of electrical fire in
your home. We recommend consulting with an electrician to determine whether a complete replacement (with copper
wiring) or a COPALUM (“pigtailing”) repair is recommended for your home.

Final Thoughts
If in doubt, consult a detailed reference book or find a professional to do the work. Even if you think you got the
project right, one mistake could leave a potential fire hazard lurking in your walls. A reputable electrician understands
all aspects of home wiring and may be able to wire your home safely in less time than it takes you to learn.