DIY electrical work – is it worth the risk?

Whether to save time or money, many people attempt DIY electrical work in the home. But it’s important to understand the legal requirements and potential risks before embarking on any such projects.

Around one in 20 people will end up in A&E at some time in their life due to a DIY disaster, but accidents involving electricity can have devastating consequences including fire, electric shock, serious injury and even death.

Registered electricians are frequently called to fix issues caused by attempts at small electrical jobs in the home, with cutting through power leads and drilling through cables in walls just two of the most common incidents.

The availability of YouTube video tutorials and other online advice often tempts people to take on jobs outside their normal ability and expertise, but electrical work is an area where this should be avoided at all costs.

There are a few small jobs that it’s acceptable to tackle, such as wiring a plug or replacing like-for-like fittings such as light switches and sockets. But any bigger electrical work is covered by Part P of the Building Regulations and should be carried out by a qualified electrician, or at the very least checked and signed off by one.

Part P was introduced in 2005 to keep people safe from electrical hazards and ensure any works carried out meet a required standard. Failure to comply with the regulations, or to get work checked once completed, is not only dangerous but will also invalidate home insurance policies so it’s not worth the risk.

Some electrical work is notifiable, such as replacing a fuse board or rewiring a house. This means you must apply for permission from your local authority before carrying it out, unless you employ a qualified electrician who is registered with one of the Government-approved scheme providers and can sign off the work themselves. Otherwise, the work must be inspected on completion.

When carrying out even the simplest electrical tasks, it’s important to take your time and ensure you follow the safety rules every step of the way. NEVER do any electrical work until you are certain the power has been isolated at the fuse board.

Be certain the circuit you are working on is not live by switching the circuit breaker off and checking the lights or sockets in the room. If the circuits are not carefully labelled, switch off each breaker from left to right followed by the mains switch. You can then use a voltage detector to ensure there is no power flowing, preventing an electric shock.

By far the safest way to ensure your electrical work is done safely and to the required standard is to employ a qualified electrician. But people are often concerned they will end up with a huge bill or be hoodwinked by a rogue trader. So how can you ensure you’re making the right choice?

It’s important to check that they are registered with a government-approved scheme, which means they are qualified to carry out complex electrical work and their skills are regularly reviewed.

At Absolute Protection Group all our electricians are NICEIC and CHAS (Contractor’s Health and Safety Assessment Scheme) approved and their essential training is regularly refreshed.

They are also fully insured, checked by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and carry ID with them at all times. In addition, all our electrical installation work carries a two-year warranty.

For further details visit our website or call 01622 437838.