Some DIY electrical advice for the weekend

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Some DIY electrical advice for the weekend……

So the weekend is upon us once more, and I know many of you will be bobbing out to the local DIY chain to buy electrical fittings, new lights, sockets, switches and the like.  How does some DIY electrical advice sound before you get started?

You might have read the instructions in the pack, which always state “IF IN DOUBT CONSULT A QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN” but probably gave it no thought. Why should I pay an electrician to do a job I could do myself in 10 minutes? Sure, it might only be a couple of wires (in some instances, read here why that might not always be the case), but if you are going to tackle it yourself you need to be armed with a few facts:

1: Safe Isolation

The ultimate first (and possibly last if you get this wrong) issue you need to be aware of is whether or not the power is isolated (turned off) to whatever you are planning to work upon. You could have a modern consumer unit with circuit breakers all neatly labelled in a 6 month old house, but this still doesn’t mean that you should trust because ‘downstairs sockets’ is turned off that it is safe to work on. It’s not something we would do as skilled, experienced workers around electricity, so to make assumptions like this as a DIYer is playing Russian Roulette.

We use a proper procedure which is drilled into us during training about using a proving unit to check a specific tester to verify that the power is off. The cost of the kit alone is over £100 so it’s not financially viable for a DIYer to buy when just wanting to change a few switches or sockets. Any of the DIY available versions are at best inaccurate and at worst, completely dangerous.

The only DIY electrical advice I can give to you if you are going to attempt work with regards safe isolation is to use your main switch and isolate the entire house. This may be pretty easy to confirm it has worked as everything should have switched off. There is the risk that the main switch is not working, but again, if everything goes off you can be ‘pretty sure’ the power has gone off.

DIY electrical advice

OK so that’s Isolation. It’s not really SAFE isolation, but it’s quite probably isolated. This leads to….

2: Locking Off

For us this comes under Number 1 above although it’s worth mentioning as a separate point here.

The next piece of DIY electrical advice you need to be sure of is that whilst you are busy working on your shiny new light fitting, the kids don’t come running along to see why the WIFI is off and turn that big switch back to ON whilst you are holding the other end. If you are lucky you will get a perm, not so lucky and you could be seriously injured (or worse).

We use dedicated locking off equipment which prevents the switch being turned back on. The cost of these sort of kits is something around £40-£50 for a basic set and £75+ for kits with differing locks. Again, difficult to justify as a DIY cost for one or two jobs.

I can’t hand on heart recommend anything here, doing so would be against my ethics as a professional electrician. If you cannot lock the circuit off you cannot be sure it will not be re-energised.

Perhaps the safest thing a DIYer could do is ensure that you are in the house alone and lock the doors to the property.  Really, if anyone is in the house with you, you can’t guarantee that there is no chance they will turn the power on.  Even if they say they won’t, once again, this is that Russian Roulette situation. So I guess you’ll have to kick them out into the garden and lock the door?

DIY electrical advice

Right. Main switch off? Family ejected from property? Door securely bolted?  Check some further DIY electrical advice that might help below:

3: What Really Matters….

OK so it’s the weekend and if you’ve been following this DIY electrical advice correctly, then your family have probably been locked outside for some time whilst you follow this and really, lets be honest, don’t understand it.

Not only that, you aren’t equipped.  You don’t have equipment to properly test.

You aren’t covered by any sort of insurance, and faults which could quite easily damage your property (over 10,000 electrical fires every year in UK) would be your own liability.  One look at the recent storylines in the UK soap operas highlights the truth that DIY work is NOT covered by your building insurance.

I’m not saying this to try and dissuade you, it’s simply the truth.  If you want all that risk and worry then that is fine.  Personally, I don’t attempt DIY plumbing work.  If my pipes leak, I call a plumber.  I’ll be honest, I can join a pipe together, but I’m no expert, I don’t want to flood the house and IF the house were to flood, I want my building insurance to cover it.

I USED to save money here and there and do DIY work at home but then it dawned on me.  It takes me loads longer and the worry of it going wrong or whatever just isn’t worth it.

What is important, what does matter, is time with your loved ones.  Worry free time.

So you can ‘wing it’, make do with incorrect equipment, risk your life completing the work, risk fire afterwards, risk your building insurance not paying out, risk your loved ones if certain faults go uncovered.


You can use a registered electrician.  They can complete the works.  You will get a certificate, their liability insurance will cover the works and best still, you know it has been done right.  You can better spend the time with your family.  If you would like anymore information about this, just search online for the campaign by the NICEIC called #banthebravado – relating to a shocking (pun intended!) number of men specifically, who were willing to undertake DIY electrical work compared to woman.  It is often seen as ‘the man thing to do’, but that attitude often leads to trouble with sometimes serious consequences.

If you happen to decide that it’s not for you after all, and you are in the WakefieldOssettMorley or surrounding area then give me a call and one thing we can do is remove some of that worry and free up some of your time.  Bet you didn’t expect an electrician to be doing that did you?


James Raby

Electrician Serving Wakefield & Surrounding Area

(01924) 654034



4 Responses

  1. It’s also important to remember that the advice that homeowners should not carry out their own electrics DIY is a legal principle, not just a guideline – not only will it not be covered by your insurance, but you could be prosecuted for carrying out electrical jobs without the proper training, as well as putting your family at risk. In general, anything requiring mains power should be avoided and handed over to a specialist immediately.

    • Thank you for the comment Sarah, yes you are quite right.
      Sadly A LOT of homeowners don’t get the message and ‘crack on anyway’ with some quite shocking (pun intended) results!

  2. Excellent advice. I want to add that installation and replacement of circuits should be done by a professional, for safety’s point of view. Sometimes, even minor short-circuits would cause severe damage to your property and potential risk of injury. Having adequate circuit protection certainly helps in the safety of your home from any electrical hazards.

    • Good point to add there, old often damaged circuits can easily lead to short circuits and other related issues. These could easily cause a fire within your property. The only way to know for sure is to have an Electrical Installation Condition Report completed by an expert to let you know about the state of your installation.

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