Electricity is a modern-day privilege that a great many of us take for granted. Every aspect of our contemporary lives relies on access to electricity, whether to charge our smartphones, power our PCs or keep up cooking in the kitchen. We also take for granted the risk that electricity can pose to us – particularly the electricity we tap from our wall outlets. What are the dangers associated with electricity, that make electrical repairs a matter for the professionals?
The Dangers of Electricity
The fact that electricity is dangerous should not need spelling out to you. Whether you were unlucky enough to watch one of those cringeworthy PSA videos in your fifth-grade science class, or unlucky enough to be on the receiving end of a nasty shock after touching your toaster with wet hands, you will already have some idea of how dangerous electricity and electrical items can be.
A common myth that circulates with regard to electrical risk is that high voltages are deadly. They absolutely can be, but not without a corresponding amperage; it is the current that kills. Tasers deliver tens of thousands of volts to victims without major incident, while the presence of even 100 milliamps of charge would make it an entirely different story.
Common Household Electrical Issues
The 120V of electricity that all American homes’ outlets receive – and the amperage available to draw by each outlet – is a serious threat to life. This threat is made more of a risk through some common issues that present in the home, one of the more common of which might be a faulty breaker. Broken outlets can also increase the risk of a shock, in exposing bare wire or even shorting connections.
It is rarely your home itself that exhibits electrical problems, but rather the appliances with which you populate it. Items like your refrigerator or microwave oven are susceptible to developing faults, whether they simply need replacement thermocouples or a recent storm blew their power circuitry altogether.
Appliances can be easy to fix, but appliance repairs can be just as dangerous as home electrics. Filter capacitors in the appliances’ power circuitry can hold large amounts of charge for months at a time, making tinkering potentially deadly without prior knowledge.
Hiring an Electrician
There are costs associated with electrical repairs, naturally – but before we touch them, it is important to re-iterate that – whatever the cost – hiring an electrician to help is almost always worth it. Unless you are changing a fuse or a lightbulb, you should be hiring a professional. Utilising a tradesperson reduces your risk of death or injury to zero, where attempting a fix yourself increases that risk significantly.
Unfortunately, it is a little harder today to find electricians available to work. There is a national shortage, brought on in large part by a huge spike in demand attached to infrastructural shifts towards green energy. High demand can drive high prices; electricians charge between $50 and $100 per hour, dependent on the type and scope of the job – but, again, you’re paying well for niche expertise and for your own safety.