You've made the decision to finally set up your basement man-cave, a sanctuary into which you can retreat to watch sports or action movies without interference or judgment. After extensive research, you've decided upon the TV, sound system, and even the lighting that will make the space your own private world.
Of course, all of this equipment will need more power than is currently available in your basement, so you'll need to make electrical upgrades before the equipment can be set up and your private escape room furnished. Since it's a man-cave, you might be tempted to do your own wiring and other electrical work. After all, it looks pretty simple in the online tutorials.
However, electrical work is a lot more difficult, and dangerous, in practice than in theory. Here are a few reasons why it's better to let a pro handle your electrical upgrades while you engage in other manly pursuits.
Running Wire for Electrical Outlets
Running wire is a task that may cause even the manliest of men to question their ability to complete the job. The convoluted path through your walls and ceilings from the breaker box to your intended outlet location has many unexpected turns and obstructions.
In theory, you can use a device called a wire fish tape to feed a flexible steel cable between the two connection points, and then retract the cable with the wiring attached as a fish on a hook. In practice, even a fish tape will not be able to navigate easily through some confined spaces.
Forcing sheathes of wire around concealed barriers could result in damage to the insulation that keeps the individual wires from coming into contact with each other. This could present a risk of fire or electric shock after you make a connection to the breaker box.
The correct gauge of wire must also be used when installing additional lines. If you intend to power multiple A/V components, you should install a 20-amp line for adequate power. A 20-amp circuit requires a three wire sheath of at least 12-gauge wire, which is both more expensive and difficult to run than 14-gauge wire for a 15-amp line.
Substituting thinner wire for lower cost and easier installation can result in future overheating and possible fire. You will also face code violations that will require corrections before you can sell your home.
Working Inside a Breaker Box
You'll need to make the final connections for any wiring upgrades inside the breaker box. This is based on the assumption that there is at least one available slot to house a new breaker. If the breaker panel is full, a common occurrence in many homes with under-powered electric systems, a sub-panel must be added to provide additional spaces for new lines.
This is most definitely a task for a professional electrician. The sub-panel must be installed using heavy gauge wire carrying extremely high voltage.
Even if there is an available slot in the breaker panel, you cannot have power to the breaker box during the process. The main breakers to the home must be shut off for the duration of the connection process. Failure to perform this basic safety procedure will result in the risk of death by electrocution.
The main breakers may be installed at the top section of the breaker panel or may be in a separate electrical box on the exterior wall of your home. In either case, turning off the main breakers will plunge your home into darkness, adding another difficulty level to the process.
If you're in the Greater Birmingham, Alabama area, and need electrical upgrades for your man-cave or any other area of your home, contact Supreme Electric.