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Electrical & Lighting

5 Electrical Projects You Can Do Yourself

By on Sep 3, 2014
5 Electrical Projects You Can Do Yourself

Electrical wiring scares a lot of us. After all, some projects literally involve life or death (many do not by the way). Nonetheless, there are certain home remodeling projects that involve electrical work you can handle without a professional electrician.

Below, I will discuss the costs and steps of five of the most common projects the average to experienced DIYer can accomplish.

Electric Basics

Even the most experienced electricians need a refresher once in a while. Sadly, if they don’t always have the basics in the back of their mind, serious injury can occur. So, no matter what electrical project you undertake, always make sure the power is turned off.  Whether you're re-wiring your entire home or just replacing a faulty outlet, go to the control panel and cut the power to the area you're working on.

Flat Screen

1. Mount A Flat Screen TV

We are going to start with an easy one. Gone are the days where visible cable wires or bulky televisions dominate your living room. To meet modern design, and it even works with traditional settings as well, one must know how to install a flat screen TV on the wall. While it may seem like a daunting task to some, nearly anyone can accomplish this feat.

After you find the perfect TV and correct wall mount, you have to find the studs. They are usually next to outlets and 16” apart from each other. Drill in a few starter holes and make sure they are straight. Then, hold up your wall mount and once again, make sure it is level. If it is, drill the mount all the way in.

If you are hiding the wires, the project is more complicated, but can be completed without a pro. For a step-by-step process, please refer to DIY Tips For Mounting A Flat Screen TV.

If you go the professional route, as our TV installation cost estimator indicates, expect to pay approximately $298.

Undercabinet Lighting

2. Add Undercabinet Lighting

Now that we have our hands dirty, it’s time to move into some of the more challenging projects.

Kitchen remodeling remains one of the most popular home remodeling projects. Not only is it perhaps the most trafficked room in the home, kitchen remodeling also promises a strong ROI. Nonetheless, one aspect of the kitchen few homeowners address is the lighting. Whether you are preparing tonight’s dinner, getting some work done or just browsing for a midnight snack, proper kitchen lighting can make all the difference.

That is why undercabinet lighting has hit its golden years. It lets homeowners add light to certain areas that may need an extra spark.

As always, turn off the electricity to the kitchen. Find the electrical box of your current kitchen lighting. Unscrew the wall plate and disconnect the wires. The box may be nailed to a stud from the back. You will have to get around it to remove the box. Before removing it all together, trace an outline of the old box.

Near the area you want to install your undercabinet lights, there should be a knockout hole or small hole to run the cable through. Locate that hole and then locate the nearest stud. There should not be a stud between that knockout hole and the electrical box. If so, you may have to create a new hole.

After that, run the cable from the hole and try to grab it from the electrical box hole. Once you got it, you can install the lighting fixture beneath your cabinet.

You are more than half way there. To see the rest of the process, please check out This Old House. You can expect to pay roughly $100 to complete this project yourself.

Bath Fan

3. Install A Bath Fan

Even though bathroom fans prevent mold and mildew, every home does not have this essential item. If you don’t have a window in your bathroom, then you need a bath fan to prevent paint from peeling and to preserve your floor. It not only saves you money down the road, but it’s good for your health.

Installing a bathroom fan is only coming in at $338, but it is a project that could take up an entire Saturday afternoon. The first step, as always, is to turn the power to the circuit off. Next, you will have to pre-wire the bath fan, the directions of which should come with the product.

Depending on the location of your fan, you may have to cut a piece of the drywall out. Mount the fan to a joist with nails. Then, peek inside the ductwork and mark the exit point. Drill a hole from the inside so you can locate it from the outside. If you’re installing a bath fan upstairs and are using roof installation, make sure a vent exit is as close to the bath fan as possible.

Use heavy-duty caulk or glue to attach the outer piece to the home. For roof installation, remove the shingles around the exit point to match the shape of the vent. Add some roofing cement or heavy-duty caulk to the bottom of the vent and slide it into place.

Attach the ducts to both the vents (roof or wall) and tape around the connection so no steam leaks. This is especially important if your ducts are running through the attic. Connect the ducts to the actual bath fan and complete the wiring according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Turn the power on and you should be good to go.

For a more detailed analysis, please refer to How To Install A Bathroom Exhaust Fan.

Ceiling Fan

4. Install Ceiling Fan

Sticking with our fan theme, it’s time to install that ceiling fan you always wanted. Fortunately, no matter the type, all have the same installation process.

After your turn off the electricity, make sure there is an electrical box in place. Most of the time, it is, but occasionally, some houses will not have it installed. If it isn’t, we recommend hiring an electrician, but only tell them to install the box. We can do the rest ourselves.

Feed the cables of the fan through your new electrical box and screw it onto the joist. Now, attach the ceiling plate to the electrical box. Leave the blades off for less of a strain. Connect the wires using twist-on wire connectors and screw the canopy into the ceiling plate. Then, add the light fixture and blades. Turn on the electricity and try it out!

Did it work? If not, you may need a helping hand, which, according to our ceiling fan installation cost estimator, costs about $232.

Garbage Disposal

5. Connect Garbage Disposal

A garbage disposal can do wonders for any kitchen in America. After all, who wants to reach into their sink to pull out the remnants of last night’s dinner? The answer is no one and a garbage disposal solves this issue and many more (including bad odors).

We looked to About Home to help with this home improvement project. To start off, remove the electric cover. You can use a nut driver to remove the electrical connection cover from the bottom of the garbage disposal. Turn the cover screw counterclockwise and remove the cover plate.

There will be a 1/2" hole for a wire connector (clamp). Screw the connector into the hole and tighten slightly with pliers. Strip the outer coating of the 12-2 (NM) with ground Romex wire about six inches back. Insert the wire into the clamp until you get an inch past the stripped part of the wire. The clamp will secure to the part of the wire that still has the outer coating on it. Tighten the two screws on the clamp.

Continue this step-by-step process at About Home.

Conclusion

Electrical projects can be dangerous, but there is a handful that the average DIYer can accomplish on their own. As long as you follow the electrical basics I mentioned earlier, each project in this article is safe and one you should feel confident accomplishing yourself.

For more challenging electrical projects, please check out the rest of our home electrician cost estimators.


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