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Be Safe When Working Around Your Home for 2019

Dear Mr. Electrician:  My wife and I recently purchased our first house.  It needs some work and we want to do as much as possible ourselves.  What advice can you give us for doing work in our home? Answer:  Know your limitations.  If you have no experience with working on a house and no one to guide you I would say tread lightly.  It takes a certain amount of mechanical aptitude along with the proper knowledge and experience to work on a house successfully. Safety is the first consideration.  Professional trades people have knowledge and perhaps training in how to be safe.  Some of that knowledge is derived from actual experiences with getting hurt.  I have an OSHA 30 hour safety card, meaning that I went through OSHA's  approved construction safety training.  However I do not consider myself an expert on safety.  I am constantly aware of unsafe practices and conditions on a job, but that doesn't mean accidents won't happen.  You must get into a mind set of thinking about safety when planning to do work around the house.  Avoid unsafe short cuts.  Read my list below.  NOTE: Text links below go to applicable products on Amazon. Safety Considerations Doing Your Own Work Use a stepladder when working on the ceiling.  Do not stand on a pail, a chair, a countertop, a stack of milk crates, or the tub and toilet to perform work.  One bad fall can change your life forever.  I know that many households have step stools for daily use.  I do not recommend that a step stool be used when working around your home.  A four or five foot ladder should be used.  Taller ladders for higher ceilings.  Check the weight rating of a ladder before you purchase it. Shut off the power at the circuit breaker when working on electrical circuits and appliances.  In a normal situation, shutting off the wall switch may suffice, but you won't know if the light fixture or appliance was wired correctly and safely until you actually work on it.  Even with the circuit breaker off there is a possibility of current flowing on the neutral conductor due to it being shared on a multi-wire circuit or the wiring is not correct.  The safest thing to do is to shut the power off to the entire house using the main circuit breaker in your electrical panel.  It is inconvenient to do that, but it is better that getting electrocuted.  Please note that I do not recommend that a novice work on electrical wiring.  The potential for creating a shock hazard or starting a fire is too great.  Some electrical problems don't show up for months or years later. Wear a dust mask or respirator to avoid breathing anything nasty.  It is not a bad idea to also protect your head and hair from dust particles.  Upon completion of the work remove your clothes and take a shower.  When working with nasty smelling household cleaning liquids, paints, or other chemicals, wearing the proper respirator is important,...