Even the handiest DIY-ers get a little nervous when considering projects that involve electrical work. Electricity is complicated and dangerous; the wrong move might cause your entire house to lose power — and it could kill you, too. Most electrical projects are best left to professional electricians, who have the knowledge and tools to avoid damage and injury.
Still, there are a few electrical projects that almost anyone can do. Here are a few beginner-friendly electrical DIYs that will make your home buzz:
Add Dimmer Switches
In addition to giving you minute control over the intensity of the illumination in your home, dimmers help you save money on your energy bill and extend the longevity of your light bulbs. Even better, you can replace your current light switches with dimmer switches in a matter of minutes. Here’s what you need to do:
Assemble your tools: You will need Phillips and flathead screwdrivers and needle-nose pliers.
Buy dimmer switches: Your local home improvement store should have a variety of dimmer switch options. You should find a switch that is appropriate for the type of bulbs in your home, feels natural, suits your home aesthetic, and fits your budget.
Turn off the power: At your circuit breaker box, turn off the power to the part of your home where you will be replacing switches. If your breaker box is not labeled, you can spend some time identifying which zones of your home are connected to which breakers, which will make other electrical projects easier.
Remove the old switch: You likely need a screwdriver to remove the wall plate surrounding the switch and the screws holding the switch to the wall. After gently pulling the switch out of the wall, you can disconnect the wires from the old switch using the needle-nose pliers. If one wire is connected to a screw of a different color, separate that wire and label it.
Connect the new switch: The wires that are connected to your old switch should be attached to your new switch. Tighten the screws on the switch only enough to prevent the wires from shifting when you move the switch. If you have a labeled third wire and no place to attach it, you can coil it and push it to the back of the box as long as you are certain there is no green screw on your new switch.
Test the switch: You can turn the power back on and test your new dimmer switch. If you see any flickering that did not previously occur, you might need to tighten the wires on the switch.
Install a New Light Fixture or Ceiling Fan
Hardwiring lights or a ceiling fan is about as complex as replacing a light switch — as long as you are replacing an old fixture and not running a new wire, which is a more daunting task. If your fixture is particularly heavy, you might want to ask another person to help support the fixture as you work. Because you are working in a more uncomfortable position, this project might take you around an hour if you follow these steps:
Assemble your tools: Again, you will need screwdrivers and needle-nose pliers as well as wire nuts.
Choose the right fixture for your space: Ceiling fans come in different sizes to provide efficient airflow to rooms of various sizes. You should also consider the style of the fixture; a farmhouse ceiling fan will fit in a rustic space. The same consideration should be made for light fixtures, which shouldn’t be too large or too low.
Turn off the power and remove the old fixture: If you are replacing a fan, you should survey the electrical box in the ceiling. You should verify that it is secure enough to support a fan, with a weight limit that is acceptable for your new fixture. If the old box is not suitable, you should install an old work fan box before you install your new fan.
Run the wires to the box: You might need to thread the wires through the rod and ring that attach to the ceiling if your fan or light fixture is not flush-mounted. Twist the fixture wires with the wires in the box and apply wire nuts.
Hang the fixture: Different types of fixtures have different means of attachment. You can follow the instructions included with the fixture if you are uncertain how to hang the fixture from the ceiling.
Add finishing touches: At this point, you can screw in lightbulbs, affix fan blades and otherwise finish the assembly of your fixture.
Test the fixture: Again, if there are any concerning electrical symptoms, like flickering lights or sparks, you should immediately turn the power off again and check your wire connections.
Electricity is an important element within your home, and you can gain some confidence working with electricity on simple DIYs. Still, before you bother with any DIY that might damage your home, you should get a homeowners insurance quote to know that you can afford to keep your property safe.