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Published on
December 14th, 2023

Understanding the Dangers of Attempting DIY Electrical Repairs

Owning and operating a large, multi-unit residential property is expensive and, at times, overwhelming. As the owner, you are responsible to the tenants and employees to keep them safe and resolve potential issues as quickly as possible. Still, your pocketbook does not always appreciate the costs of necessary electrical repair, especially when it seems minor.

Many property owners may resort to DIY repairs to avoid labor costs and time-consuming inspections. While they may have skilled and knowledgeable staff, without proper licensing and experience, DIY repairs are dangerous and financially and legally risky. Discover the seven reasons to avoid DIY repairs and call a licensed electrician.

6 Reasons To Avoid DIY Electrical Repair

1. Safety

Safety is the primary concern with DIY repairs to an electrical system. Novice or inexperienced DIYers often underestimate the risks associated with electricity. They often assume incorrectly that low-voltage systems, like those found in residential properties, are not lethal. In reality, electrocution is a possibility whenever working with complex electrical systems.

Even if electrocution is unlikely, serious injuries or burns are still possible. Professional and licensed electricians understand the risks associated with repairs, and they know the protocols for keeping themselves and others safe. Often, the safest way to work on an electrical system is to turn off the power to the work area. Unfortunately, depending on the complexity, age, and problem with the system, this safeguard is not always an efficient level of protection.

2. Fire Risks

A potentially lethal assumption with DIY electrical repair is that as long as the power returns or seems to operate as it should, all is safe. A haphazard repair may return the flow of electricity, but there may still be significant issues in the circuit, including within the repair. For example, a DIYer may leave exposed wires within wall cavities or not protect or seal connections correctly; either issue can lead to arcing faults, which cause over 28,000 fires annually in the United States, killing and injuring hundreds of people.

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation, residential electrical fires account for roughly 51,000 fires in the U.S. annually and account for 500 deaths, over 1,400 injuries, and $1.3 billion in property damage. Proper electrical installations, routine maintenance, and inspections allow property owners to avoid fire risks and possibly help reduce these unfortunate national statistics.

3. Regulations

When you own and operate a multi-unit residential or commercial property in NYC, you must abide by specific building codes and regulations. Failure to comply with established codes risks fines and possible legal troubles.

According to, only a licensed electrician can perform installations, repairs, or modifications to electrical systems, and they must obtain a permit. Some general or minor electrical work does not require a Registered Design Professional, but it is best to err on the side of caution. Talk to a professional at Bolt Electric to learn more about NYC regulations and requirements for building repairs.

4. Expense

Many building owners consider DIY electrical repair to save money, not realizing the potential size and risks of the project. They may assume that cutting out the licensed professional reduces labor and repair costs. To a certain extent, they are not wrong — cutting out a licensed professional will reduce the initial costs of a project. Still, in the end, DIY repairs cost more money than professional repairs for several reasons.

First, DIY repairs rarely address the entire problem. An amateur may assume that a faulty circuit breaker switch is the primary issue when it is actually old wiring or improper connections within the circuit.

Second, a DIYer may replace components that do not need replacing, resulting in unnecessary costs for the building owner. They may also replace faulty parts with inadequate or incorrect replacements, resulting in potential fire hazards or future failures.

Finally, DIY repairs often fail electrical inspections and require professional assessment and replacement or repair. By neglecting to hire a professional from the beginning, building owners almost always invest more in the repair. Avoid redundant and unnecessary costs by hiring a licensed electrician from Bolt Electric.

5. Fines and Legal Trouble

As of March 21, 2016, New York City increased civil and criminal penalties for performing an unlicensed electrical repair. According to Introduction 247-A, signed by former mayor Bill de Blasio, anyone found guilty of performing or soliciting unlicensed electrical work is at risk of a $5,000 to $25,000 fine and a prison term of six months to one year. First-time offenses may only face a civil penalty of $4,800.

The stiffer penalties provide a hopeful deterrent to those entertaining DIY repairs. By enacting and enforcing these new penalties, the city acknowledges the legitimate dangers and risks to civilians and unlicensed workers. The performance of repairs, installations, or modifications by a professional electrician from Bolt Electric ensures the safety of your property, tenants, and staff.

6. Insurance and Negligence

If the fines, costs, and risks are not enough to deter the idea of DIY repairs, consider property and business insurance. A failure to perform licensed repairs and modifications can lead to accusations of negligence. Any property owner found to be negligent may incur higher rates or premiums. Also, depending on the severity of their actions, they may become uninsurable.

A property owner that uses DIY repairs may also accrue significant expenses should a repair fail because an insurer may refuse to cover the damage because of the negligence or illegality of the repair. Always work with a licensed electrician.

Hire Professional Electricians for Electrical Repair and Inspections

Call Bolt Electric

Electrical repair is not an option for DIY work, regardless of the supposed experience of the DIYer. According to NYC, a licensed electrician must perform all electrical repairs, installations, and modifications. Call Bolt Electric at 212-734-5000 if you have questions about your electrical system or wish to schedule a repair, maintenance, or inspection.

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