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Question DetailsAsked on 9/14/2013

When do you know you need a handyman or an electrician for electrical work? What is the rule of thumb?

Installing new light fixtures, adding a ceiling fan, adding a new bedroom light when there is only outlets?

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3 Answers


Legally, in almost all jurisdictions unless you are doing it yourself as a resident homeowner, any electrical or plumbing or HVAC work beyond replacing a light bulb, water filter, or air filter is supposed to be done by an electrician, plumber, or HVAC technician, respectively.

From a practical standpoint, you might feel comfortable with a handyman replacing an existing light fixture or outlet, but certainly for any new wiring (like adding a light fixture) or anything involving the breaker box like adding or splitting circuits you should use an electrician. Almost all electrical fires that involve household wiring (as opposed to appliance or technology or extension cord fires) are due to improper wiring, not age or wear and tear.

Ceiling fans are a special item - they require special support braces on the box and commonly have unusual wiring (if they have fan and lights, or multi-speed controlled by a wall switch rather than pull chain), so I would not trust a handyman to do that either, if I were you.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD


It's just like LCD says.

I'm an electrician and I often see....

1. Ceiling fan supported by insufficient brace.

2. Wires and cables improperly routed into outlet boxes.

3. Imporperly spliced wires made during circuit extension.

Call a handyman to replace a standard light fixture of 50lbs or less.

Call an electrician for other lighting needs.


Answered 7 years ago by Kestrel Electric


A note to what Kestrel Electric touched on - plastic electrical boxes are rated for only 6# load, to shoudl not be used for any type of chandelier. Normal metal electrical boxes (which have #8 sized holes on the side for mounting nails or screws) are rated for up to 20# typically (can very by manufacturer) with 16d nails, 50# suspended loadwith 2 or more #8 wood screws, which handles normal size changeliers and surface-mount lights.

For heavier loads you need a heavy-duty rated box which goes to 75# with 2 or more #10 wood screws into a joist.

For heavier chandeliers you have to use a fan-rated box (labelled on box or its packaging or check manufacturer's website) with adequate load capacity - fan rated boxes HAVE to be installed either with manufacturer-provided metal braces between adjacent joists, or screwed into a 2x6 or larger mounting board fastened per code to the adjacent joists. Usually this means a full-width Simpson angle bracket nailed into the joist on each side with Teco nails, then nailed or screwed up into the supporting piece from the bottom with Teco nails or 2 or more #10 screws at each end.

Answered 7 years ago by LCD

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