Since nowadays you can’t throw a rock without hitting a home repair TV show, it is no wonder, so many of us are rushing to the hardware store to buy the materials for a home renovation session of our own. These TV shows make it seem like it is the most straightforward task in the world – slap a little paint onto the porch here, smash a wall with the sledgehammer there, and you have finished before the first dust particles start building up on the floor.
While it is entirely possible to be an accomplished and competent DIY home renovator, what many people tend to forget is that these projects require a lot of care and attention. Some jobs are more hazardous than others, so everybody should make sure they are tackling them under the safest conditions possible.
If you want to renovate your house but haven’t decided yet on what could be done regarding safety measures, we are here to help with a few essential pieces of advice.
We would always suggest contacting a professional but if you choose to tackle the repair yourself here are four safety tips for dealing with common home repair projects.
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Contrary to popular belief, repairing the plumbing system is not something you could throw yourself into without any prior knowledge. If done incorrectly, it can suddenly turn into a health and safety hazard for both you and your surroundings.
Necessary safety precautions include, but are not limited to, following tool instructions, making sure your installations follow local codes, and knowing the specificities of the plumbing system that your house uses (for example, whether the pipe holds sewage or pressurized water).
Here are a few necessary safety precautions that every DIY plumber should take:
- Don’t unclog the drains without prior preparation. Before disassembling the drains, try to figure whether their contents will spill out in your direction. Although admittedly, drains are not under pressure, an old clog could build significant pressure and end up flooding your house. The situation can be even worse if you live in an area with heavy precipitation or if the local sewage system is old. Read more about basement floor drain backing up when it rains if you already have a flooded basement and want to fix the problem yourself.
- Shut off the water. This is a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how many DIY plumbers forget to do it. What looks like an insignificant knob could hold back pressurized water, in some cases, and you do not want to be at the other end of it.
- Use a face mask to protect your lungs, especially if the project involves using saws or sand.
When it comes to home projects, electrical repairs are an entirely different animal than tinkering with the plumbing system. However obvious it might seem, it is worth mentioning that no electrical device should be opened, repaired, changed, or upgraded without turning off the power supply first. Something as simple as replacing the outlets could turn into a disaster.
Here are a few basic safety precautions when working with electricity:
- Verify that there is no electric current passing through an electrical device before attempting any repairs;
- Locate the power source by subpanel and circuit breaker location, or by using a circuit tracer;
- Don’t store any flammable liquids near electrical equipment;
- Wear the proper safety equipment – gloves, clothes, shoes;
- Avoid any contact with electrical circuits while your home’s electricity is on.
Keep Your Work Space Organized
Collect all the equipment and tools you think you will need ahead of time and have them arranged and sorted before beginning your project. To give you a guiding point, you can deposit your materials on a tray, a cardboard box, or in a work apron with pockets.
Keep your sharp tools in a separate place, with enough distance between them so that you do not risk hurting yourself while trying to hastily reach for one. Heavy tools, such as sledgehammers and ladders, should also be kept separate.
Also, consider whether your project will create a mess – you certainly do not want to end up inhaling debris or tripping over a forgotten piece of wood in the midst of your project. So, it is a good idea to plan if your project will be messy and require items that will help you get rid of the waste efficiently, trash bags, wastebaskets, and the like.
Be Careful of Lead-Based Paint
Although producing and selling lead-based paint has been illegal in the United States since 1978, many houses hadn’t had a new paint job since before that law was passed. If you are in this situation, you should be extremely careful with lead-based paint.
Before removing it, make sure you seal off the work site with duct tape and plastic sheeting, and always wear protective clothing, as well as gloves and a respirator. Do not vacuum the area with a regular vacuum cleaner. Use a device specifically designed for the job instead. Furthermore, pregnant women and children should stay away from the work site as lead-based paint can be especially harmful to them. If you have a large area to handle, call a professional in to assist you.
Many of us strive to become accomplished DIY builders. However, doing home repair and renovation projects is not as easy as TV shows make it look as many things could go wrong. If you plan to do this, be sure to read through our basic safety tips before beginning your project.