If you have decided to change one of your home's light fixtures, you probably want to make sure you do so safely. If so, below are three things you do not want to do while installing a new light.
Never Assume There Is No Live Current
Before you start work on removing the old light fixture, you probably already know to turn off the breaker to the room in which you are working. However, you should never assume there is no live current running through the wires, even when you think the power is off.
To be safe, turn off the main breaker to your house. Then, carefully remove the old light fixture without touching the wires, and use a multimeter to test for any electrical current. If it reads anything other than zero, there could be a short in your home's wiring or the breaker box may not be working correctly.
If this is the case, do not proceed with your project. Instead, you should have an electrician inspect your breakers and wiring to make sure there are no problems that could create an electrocution or fire risk.
Do Not Pull The Wires
Once you know there is no current running to the fixture, you can safely remove the old fixture in preparation for installing your new one. When disconnecting and reconnecting the wires, do not pull on the wires, even if you think it will only take an inch to make the connection between your house's wiring and the light fixture.
Inside the plastic or rubber coating of the wires, there are several smaller wires that could bend or break easily when pulled. Even if you do not see any damage, any crack or breaks inside the wires could create sparks that could present a fire hazard if they were to come into contact with the interior of your walls.
If you find you are unable to safely make the connection without pulling the wires tight, you may want to have a professional look at the wires and either extend the old wires or install new ones.
Do Not Use Only Electrical Tape To Cover The Wires
After you have connected your new light fixture, you will need to secure the endings of the wires. While electrical tape is designed to cover open areas of wires and withstand electrical current, do not solely rely on them to make a safe connection. The tape could unravel over time, or an animal such as a mouse could chew through the tape.
Instead of using the tape as the only means of protecting the wire connections, use wire nuts first, followed by the tape. Wire nuts are hard plastic cones that fit over the set of wire endings.
To make a smooth connection, hold the two wires parallel to each other with the exposed ends touching. Using your forefinger and thumb, twist the metal wires together, being careful not to bend or break the ends. When done, the wire connection should resemble a corkscrew and have a smooth surface.
Attach the wire nut by threading the wires into the center and turning the bolt clockwise. Tighten the nut until you meet slight resistance. Do not overtighten, as this can break the wires. Once the wire nut is attached, cover it with two to three layers of duct tape.
By not doing the above items and taking the necessary precautions, you should be able to safely change your light fixture yourself. However, if you feel you are unable or encounter a problem while in the middle of the task, you may want to contact an electrician like McDonald Electric about having them do it for you.