8 Electrical Safety Tips for DIYers

8 Electrical Safety Tips for DIYers

Monday, December 5, 2016

If you’re anything like me, you don't shy away from taking on DIY projects year round! Many of our household projects end up dealing with electrical testing and measurements. But wait! Don’t be too eager, it may be well worth looking over a few electrical safety tips.

  • First, It should go without saying that you should not do any test you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with.

If you are not experienced with electrical testing it is likely best to get someone involved who is. Also, if you haven’t already, make sure you are familiar with your meter, its functionality and operation before testing.

  • Be certain the test meter you are using is appropriate for the power source.

Electrical meters have category ratings which correspond to the power sources your meter can safely measure. These “CAT” ratings go from I to IV, one being the farthest from a power source such as specially protected secondary circuits and electronics. CAT II can measure household appliances, CAT III gets into circuit breakers and busbars, circuits connected to the mains. A CAT IV meter will protect you while measuring circuits connected to your building’s power source directly.

  • Making sure your meter’s category is sufficient for your task can be crucial and hazardous if ignored, you will want to be sure your test leads also meet the CAT rating needed. Obviously, the easiest way around this headache is to use a CAT IV meter and test leads.    
  • Inspect your equipment, especially your test leads for damage. You might also want to purchase leads with as minimal amount of exposed metal as possible for the job.
  • When measuring, consider keeping a hand in your pocket so that you are not able to close the circuit 
  • When possible, use your instruments stand, or hanging strap so that you do not need to hold the meter at all. Use an alligator clip to keep one hand free.
  • Utilize your meter’s functionality to your advantage. Use max and min measurement modes so that you are not watching your meter as often as you should be watching your probes.
  • Finally, let others know what you’re doing. 

You do not want others changing the electrical load on a circuit you’re testing by mistake. Conversely, you do not want to be alone while testing a high powered circuit. Use these tips to make sure you’re handling your DIY project safely.