A new study shows a large percentage of Ontario homeowners think it’s okay to let unqualified people do their electrical work for them.
A recent Leger Marketing survey found that 45 per cent of Ontario homeowners wouldn’t bother to check the credentials of contractors before hiring them to perform electrical work and up to 70 per cent of Ontario homeowners would hire a neighbour, friend or handyman to install a new light fixture, repair an electrical outlet or wire an outdoor timer — all potentially dangerous tasks if not performed properly.
Lucy Impera, registrar of licensing and certification at the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), says the survey results show that a lack of education still exists among the public about the dangers inherent in electrical work.
“Unfortunately homeowners and the public really don’t understand the seriousness of electrical work. The public tends to go for the lowest rate and they don’t seem to understand the risks associated with electrical work,” Impera said.
A big reason for the misunderstanding, Impera believes, stems from the fact that electrical issues don’t give off the same, obvious signals as many other problems around the house.
“(Electricity) has no smell, you can’t see it and it’s silent. There’s nothing telling you, ‘Don’t put your hand here,’” Impera said.
More importantly, homeowners trying to perform their own electrical work are often at the mercy of whatever work — licensed or not — that was previously performed on their home. If the previous work was not done properly, mistakes can be dangerous and even fatal, even if things seem to have worked properly in the past.
“You don’t know what those previous homeowners have done. It’s assumed that if you flip the switch and the light turns on the work must have been fine, but that’s just not the case,” Impera said.
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