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Is It OK for Me to Do Small Electrical Repairs at Home?

Generally, it’s never OK to do home electrical repairs yourself. If you’re going to do small electrical repairs, your options are very limited unless you have a license. We’ll look at some basic tasks you can take on and others that can be quite dangerous and require calling for professional electrical repairs in Troy, MI.

DIY Electrical Work Is Against State Law

In Michigan, one must have the appropriate contractor’s license to install, repair, or alter electrical wiring, equipment, or fixtures. This goes for lights, heating equipment, power components, and even fire alarm systems. Performing any electrical work without the proper experience is a violation of state law and is subject to civil penalties.

What Electrical Work Can I Do?

It’s not OK to make electrical alterations in your home. However, small electrical repairs (if you can consider them as such) that you can perform include:

  • Reset a Tripped Circuit Breaker: If a circuit breaker trips, devices connected to that circuit won’t work. You can fix the problem by finding the tripped breaker (most likely, it’ll have moved to the middle position), moving it to the “Off” position, and then switching it back to the “On” position. If the breaker won’t reset, appliances still won’t work, or the breaker trips soon after, there may be an overload, surge, or damaged wiring, which requires calling a professional.
  • Replace a Light Switch: If the work entails installing the same type of switch, and you don’t have to replace wiring, you can install a new light switch without an electrician (with the breaker for that circuit turned off and using a voltmeter to verify no power is reaching the switch, of course!). Also, know what kind of switch it is (single-pole, double-pole, three-way, four-way, etc.). Installing a dimmer switch can be tricky and risky, especially if one hasn’t been installed before. The switch can overheat if not properly matched with the bulb.
  • Replace a Light Fixture: Depending on the extent of the work, you can replace an existing light fixture. Reconnecting existing wiring and checking the mounting brackets to make sure they’re secure are important tasks, so proceed carefully. However, if you need to replace wires or the junction box, be safe and call an electrician.

Experienced DIYers may feel comfortable repairing the end of an extension cord. This requires cutting off the old plug, cutting back the insulation, stripping the wires, and twisting them back together. You can then screw the wires into the back of the plug. However, the wires and terminal screws must be correctly matched (green to green, black to brass or gold, and white to silver). The plug must then be properly reassembled and its screws tightened before you plug it back in.

Installing a new outlet or ceiling fan may be possible if the wires are in good shape and don’t need to be replaced. However, we don’t advise taking on these projects if you don’t have experience. It’s best to hire a pro to safely complete wiring work and ensure there are no hidden problems. Electricians have equipment such as voltmeters to ensure no current is flowing and safety gear to protect themselves against shocks and burns.

Why Call an Electrician

Small electrical repairs may be needed to address potentially big problems. For example, a cracked, sparking, or hot outlet can be an immediate fire hazard. The same goes for faulty wiring. Taping an exposed conductor only masks the problem. Replacing the entire wire or cord may be the best and only solution to restore function and safety.

Also, don’t try to repair:

  • Lights: Recessed lights, chandeliers, and ceiling fan lights are more complex than they look. Electricians fix them every day and can ensure they are functional, safe, and efficient.
  • Washer/Dryer Cords: The cord attached to a washer/dryer can get damaged, but it’s not an option to simply throw away an expensive appliance. An electrician can replace the power cord using the right tools.
  • Circuit Breakers: A breaker can be damaged by an overload or surge or due to mechanical issues. Only an electrician has the expertise, tools, and materials to safely fix or replace it.
  • Smoke Detectors: A hardwired smoke detector must be repaired by a professional who can address issues with electronics or a bare or damaged wire.
  • Generators: If you have a standby generator, damaged wiring, an equipment failure, or a fuel source issue, it must be addressed by a trained professional.

Call Hoover Today

Hoover Electric, Plumbing, Heating & Cooling is a licensed electrical contractor serving Southeast Michigan. Our trained and licensed electricians can safely repair an outlet, circuit breaker, or generator or rewire your home. They employ the right tools, parts, and safety gear. Therefore, we do not recommend performing small electrical repairs in your home, as it risks injury, damage, and paying higher repair costs. 

You can trust Hoover for prompt, effective, and code-compliant electrical repairs, complete with testing to ensure the job is successful and all safety concerns are resolved. To request help, call (586) 315-5268 today.