Can You Do It Yourself or Should You Call the Electrician?

Well, this might be awkward: your spouse watched a couple of YouTube videos and “fixed” that electrical issue you were having, but now you want to call the experts to truly solve the problem.

There are times when someone without electrical training can tackle a minor issue at home, such as upgrading an outlet maybe or performing maintenance on the generator. There are also instances where the professionals should be called in so that no one gets injured or a home is not left without necessary power.

Below are some DIY instructions for those determined to do it without a professional, as well as tips on when to know you need help. Seriously, safety should always come first.

Running Wiring Through Your Walls

Working with electricity can be difficult and dangerous if not done properly. However, there are some simple jobs that amateur electricians can perform on their own if they have basic tools and experience. Read on for tips on how to run electrical wiring behind your walls without tearing up your home.

Get Started as a DIY Electrician

To get started, you’ll need:

  • A stud finder
  • A flex bit for your drill
  • A glow rod to pull the wiring through the holes you make
  • String
  • The measurements of any outlet or fixture being installed so the spot can be cut to the correct size

Before you start drilling any holes or messing with wires, you’ll need to decide where you want the wire to emerge from the wall or ceiling. Then, use the stud finder to ensure that you have a clear passage between the spots where you want the wire to enter and exit the wall. If you discover any crossbeams in the way, you can avoid a lot of work by adjusting your location to a more open area, unless it’s absolutely necessary that you pull the wire through to that exact spot.

Once you have your location locked down, you can cut a small hole in the wall where you want the wire to exit. If you are installing an outlet or fixture, try to cut to its specifications to save yourself some work later on. Next, from the spot where you want the wire to enter the wall, use the flexible bit to drill a passage through any obstructions behind the wall until you reach your exit hole.

Fishing the Wire Through the Wall

Now it’s time to actually fish the wire through the wall. If you tie a string to the drill bit, you can pull it back up to the entry point and use it to help thread the wire to its destination. This is where the glow rod comes in handy – you can attach it to the wire and help push or pull it through any tricky areas. As a bonus, the light from the glow rod helps you find your way behind the walls.

Of course, you may run into extra obstacles depending on the specific job you are trying to accomplish. Getting access to the wire’s entry point in the attic or crawlspace can be a challenge, and if you need to maneuver through crossbeams or other obstacles when fishing the wire, the job will be a lot more difficult.

Expert Electricians to the Rescue

Once you have the wire where you need it, the difficult part begins – connecting your outlet or fixture, and adding the wire to one of the circuits in your home. If you are unsure about any step of the process, don’t hesitate to contact an expert electrician to come lend a hand.

Click here to learn about all types of wiring and rewiring services available.

How to Run Wires Around a Doorway

Among the simple electrical tasks that you might be able to complete yourself is running wires or cables for your devices and appliances around a doorway. Sometimes, you might need to stretch wires across a room. With just a bit of work and handy-person skills, you can hide the wires behind a doorframe to maintain the aesthetics of the room. Read on for tips on how to get started.

The Basics of Running Wires

Running cables and wires across the floor is a bad idea for a variety of reasons. For one thing, they create a tripping hazard. Furthermore, when they are routinely stepped on, the delicate internal wiring tends to get worn, which can downgrade performance or even become a fire hazard. Finally, exposed cables in a living space just don't look nice. If you can hide the wires in the wall, you eliminate all of those problems.

Fortunately, you can get the job done without making a very invasive entry into your walls. If you have a framed doorway and baseboards along the walls, you can run wires or cables to any point along the edge of the room. That way, the setup is both safe and out of sight, allowing you to enjoy your living space without worries or distractions.

Simple Steps to Run Your Cable

To hide cables behind a door frame or baseboard, follow these steps:

  • Carefully pry off the trim or molding at the top of the door, removing any nails that hold the trim in place.
  • Also, remove the trim for any baseboard where you want the wire to follow.
  • Use a drywall saw to make a small slot in the wall behind the trim, just big enough for the wire to fit.
  • Look for a hole in the doorframe inside the wall at the top corner of the door. Stick a chain or heavy string through the hole and feed it along behind the wall until you can retrieve it at the open baseboard at the foot of the door.
  • Use the chain to pull the wire up through the wall, over the door and back down the other side.
  • Use a vinyl raceway to secure the cable in the wall recession behind the baseboard.
  • Secure all the trim and molding back into place and enjoy your new connectivity.

How To Splice Extensions on Your Electrical Wires

It's a problem that many a DIY electrician has run into a time or two: You want to move an outlet or add a new light to a room, but the wires on your current circuit just aren't long enough. Does that mean you have to rewire the entire circuit? Fortunately, no. Savvy electricians can splice wires together, safely adding the length they need to reach their destination.

Safety First is the Electrician's Code

The first step that you need to take when performing any electrical work on your home is to turn off the power, either to the specific circuit or to the entire house. Use a non-contact voltage tester to double-check that the electricity is actually off before you ever touch a wire.

Next, you need to have junction boxes anywhere you wish to splice wires together. Junction boxes come in various sizes and are required by municipal building codes to help keep the splice safe. Ask at your local hardware store if you need help figuring out which junction box will work best for your particular project. Finally, before you get started, make sure the wires you are splicing have the same gauge and number of wires so they can easily transfer electricity from one to another.

Splicing the Wires Together by Color

When you're ready to splice the wires, strip about five inches of casing off the ends. Then take off about half an inch of plastic coating, leaving the ends of the wires exposed. If your junction box isn't already set up with clamps, you may have to install some into the openings on the opposite ends of the box using pliers.

Next, pull the wires you want to splice through the clamps so the exposed ends are inside the junction box. Pull them far enough in so the clamp closes over the wire casing. At that point, you can twist the wires together with their counterparts-- make sure you match colors and twist the ground wires together as well. Use wire nuts to secure the twisted ends.

And that's that -- all that's left is to attach the cover to the junction box and secure it to a joist or rafter. Test out your new connection and you should be all set to wire in whatever fixture or outlet you need.

When You Need to Call an Electrician

Remember, electrical work can be tricky, not to mention dangerous if not performed correctly. If you aren't comfortable working with your wiring yourself, don't hesitate to have an expert do the job instead.

When you do call, know the right terms. We’ve put together 50 electrical terms so that you and your new electrician can communicate effectively to get the job done right. This A to Z glossary will educate on everything from Ammeter to Weatherhead.

Contact your local office today to schedule service!