Electricians don’t take chances at work or at home
If you ever flip a light switch, plug in a toaster or charge a smart phone, you are handling electricity. And while these tasks are simple and not risky, the reality is, your home’s electrical system is complex and potentially dangerous, says electrician Christopher Haas.
“Unfortunately, [home electrocution] claims lives every single year,” he says.
How can you keep yourself safe while also keeping your lights, outlets and appliances in good working order? Start by following the same set of upkeep guidelines and best practices that electricians follow.
Electricians use the correct lightbulbs
When the bulb in your favourite lamp or fixture burns out, do you just run to the store and grab the first replacement bulb you see, or do you make sure you are purchasing the correct bulb? If the grab-and-go option is your standard operating procedure, it’s time to rethink the process.
“Make sure you put the correct wattage bulb into the fixture,” says Jake McKusker, general manager of an electrics company.
Why is this important? Because if you use a 100-watt bulb in a fixture designed for 40-watts of power, McKusker says you will essentially “cook” the fixture. This will degrade the wires and create a fire hazard, he says. The extra light output is not worth the risk! Likewise, low wattage is likely to leave you sitting in a dark room.
How do you determine how many watts you need? Look on your lamp or fixture. You should see a small sticker or printed text telling you how many watts are required. Then find a lightbulb that matches.
Electricians check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors regularly
You’re probably aware you’re supposed to check the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly, but “most people don’t test them until they start chirping,” says McKusker.
Electricians, however, are really good about keeping up with this task, because they know the stakes are high if they put it off. Namely, you might sleep through a fire or fail to recognise a carbon monoxide leak. The rules, which apply to all smoke and CO detectors (even those that are hard-wired into your home’s electrical system) are straightforward:
Check your smoke detector and CO detector batteries once a month;
Replace the batteries once a year, even if they still seem to be working;
Replace the entire unit every 10 years because the devices are only designed to last a decade.