Warning signs that you need to get your electrical work checked


You may be pretty handy at DIY renos in your home, but when it comes to electrical work, you should leave it to the pros. Mike Holmes explains why.

Mike Holmes offers advice on electrical work.
Mike Holmes offers advice on electrical work.

A lot of renovations will require some type of electrical work—bathroom renos, kitchens, basements. I have heard many horror stories about renovations gone wrong, and I get very nervous when I find out that there was DIY electrical work involved. If you’re dealing with electrical you need a permit. Even moving a receptacle requires a permit—most homeowners think it’s DIY.

Even if you are doing the backsplash or flooring yourself, do not attempt electrical work unless you are certified. For example, a new backsplash could set your electrical outlets more into the wall if the new tile is thicker than the old. The outlets won’t be flush against the new backsplash. It could make it next to impossible to plug in appliances, plus it looks sloppy. You’ll need to bring in a licensed electrician to bring the outlets out a bit, usually about ¼ of an inch, depending on the thickness of your tile.

An electrical fire is more common than you think. In fact, 20 percent of all fires in Canada are electrical fires. Electrical parts wear out over time, it is a good idea to get your home’s electrical checked by a professional every four years. Plus, code gets updated.

Here are some signs you should pay attention to:

  • Flickering lights
  • Burning smell when you use certain outlets
  • Breakers that always trip
  • Discoloured wall outlets
  • Outlets that spark
  • Outlets or switches that are hot when you touch them

These may seem like minor issues, but they can jeopardize the safety of your home and family. Don’t ignore these, get it checked out. And leave all electrical work to the pros; and if you live in Ontario, you must get it checked by the ESA (Electrical Safety Authority) to make sure it’s to code. Electrical work is never DIY. Hire a licensed electrical contractor to get it right.