Most of us will think of the electrical system in our home as what’s easily visible: outlets, lights switches, overhead lights, and, for the more adventurous, the main panel in the basement. But, like plumbing, wiring is mostly a system that is hidden from view. It consists mainly of a few hundred yards of wires of various gauges buried in the walls and tucked into the ceiling.
Installing an electrical system is a job best left to a licensed professional, mainly because of the inherent dangers of working with electricity. Unlike a botched plumbing job or poorly installed tile, an improper electrical connection can kill, or reduce a house to ashes. Yet there are many situations where some intervention by an unlicensed homeowner or builder is necessary, and learning the basics can lower the risks for those who exercise some caution.
What about installing an arc-fault breaker, or replacing a faulty light switch? If you’ve just renovated a bathroom or built a new utility room, maybe you’d like to consider wiring it as well. Not planning to jump in and wire up your new outdoor lights? That’s OK. There are still advantages to having the basics under your belt — to know when 12-gauge wire is fine but 14-gauge wire is not, to know whether that funky ground-fault circuit interrupter in the bathroom should be swapped out for a new one.
Whatever your comfort level, look for good advice from Fine Homebuilding’s team of experienced professionals. They’ll be able to walk you through just about any thing you may find yourself up against.