You’ve all seen the TV shows that say “Don’t try this at home.”  And the auto commercials that say “professional driver.”  The message is: don’t try things that are best left to experts.

Today, it is fairly common for people to try to save a little money by handling seemingly simple home projects themselves, rather than hiring a professional.  After all, there are plenty of ‘how to” articles available on the Internet.  And your friendly hardware store salesperson will be happy to give you instructions.

That applies to all types of projects, including electrical projects.  But electricity is not something you want to play around with.  Make a mistake, and all sorts of bad things can happen.  You can damage your home’s entire electrical system, resulting in a complete loss of power and an expensive fix.  Worse, you can start a fire.  Even worse, you can injure yourself, perhaps fatally.

Given that, here are four projects that many people would say “you can do yourself,” but we would really recommend you don’t.

  1. Installing new plugs or light switches.  It only takes a little mistake to cause a lot of damage.  If you do not connect the wires correctly, you are asking for problems.  Also, if your home has any two-pronged outlets, replacing them with TR or GCFI outlets can be tricky.
  2. Installing or repairing light fixtures.  The same basic reasoning applies here.  The wiring can be complex, especially in older homes that have aluminum wiring.
  3. Installing exhaust fans.  There are numerous challenges in trying to do this yourself.  The wiring in the ceiling needs to be carefully checked, as does the wiring behind connecting wall switches.  You have to have the proper ceiling box.  And there may be structural issues that need to be taken into account. Additionally, due to the increased emphasis on toxic mold growth and its related health issues, it is critical to be certain that all new and replacement exhaust fan installations are properly vented to the exterior. Failure to provide venting could result in serious health issues as well as future litigation.
  4. Adding circuits.  It is very common for homeowners to want or even need to add circuits, given the growing number of appliances and electronic devices we use.  But installing new wiring and perhaps conduit, and then connecting them properly to the circuit breaker or fuse box, can be complex.

These are all what some people might call simple or easy projects.  And since we do not advise you to do these, we would certainly also recommend you not attempt anything even more difficult.  Our advice is, before you do anything, at least get a quote from a licensed electrician so you will know the cost of having your project done by an expert.