Electrical Safety During Demolition

Whether you are doing demolition on your own or hiring a demolition contractor to do it for you, you want to ensure safety comes first on the job site.  One of the areas that we take very seriously is electrical safety, since irresponsible handling of electricity can result in fires and severe bodily injury.  Here are a few basic guidelines that we follow and recommend to other Contractors and homeowners when doing demolition:

    • Never touch a fallen overhead power line. Always assume that it is lethal to touch, even if it is down or appears to be insulated.  Call the electric utility company immediately and keep people away.
    • If an overhead wire falls across your vehicle while you are driving, stay inside the vehicle and continue to drive away from the line.
    • Never operate electrical equipment while standing in water.
    • Never repair electrical cords or equipment unless qualified and authorized.
    • If you are working in a damp location, be sure to inspect electric cords and equipment to ensure that they are in good condition and free of defects. Also be sure to use a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).
    • In older homes, it is more likely that electrical systems are not up to code and may be faulty. Be aware of electrical outlets that are hot to the touch – this is an indication that something has gone wrong, and you need to address it immediately.  Unplug everything from the hot outlet and examine what was plugged in.  If the device is a cell phone charger, cordless drill, printer, or other machine designed to change the voltage input to a different voltage output, this could be causing the outlet to become warm (not hot).  If, after an hour or so, the outlet has returned to its normal room temperature, then the outlet is fine.  However, if the outlet is hot to the touch even after nothing has been plugged in, or it was only a simple device such as a lamp or a television, then the circuit may be overloaded and may overheat if the breaker doesn’t trip.  It can also indicate that the outlet is old and worn out and now has loose contacts, or the wires may even be touching.  This kind of bad connection is very dangerous, because instead of blowing a fuse, which disconnects power and thus removes the risk, a bad connection does allow electrical current to flow even though there’s resistance.  When current flows through a series resistance in the circuit, it can get very, very hot.  This can start a fire.  The handling for any hot electrical outlet is to find the circuit breaker that controls the outlet and immediately turn it off, then call an electrician to check the connections.

    • Do not run electrical cords across a driveway or areas where vehicles might drive over them. This can damage the cords and is a safety hazard.
    • Roughly 3300 home fires originate from extension cords each year, as they can overheat and cause fires when used improperly. Make sure all extension cords on are properly rated for their intended use, indoor or outdoor, and meet or exceed the power needs of the appliance or device being used.  Do not overload extension cords, and do not attempt to plug extension cords into one another.  Keep all outdoor extension cords clear of standing water.  Always inspect cords for damage before use.  Check for cracked or frayed sockets, loose or bare wires, and loose connections.

When it comes to electrical safety, don’t be afraid to err on the side of caution.  Cutting corners or rushing when doing demolition just isn’t worth it.


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