Because work with electricity can be very dangerous, it is highly recommended to hire an electrician for most of your wiring and electric-related needs. It’s especially important to use an electrician’s professional services when dealing with older homes with old wiring or discontinued parts.
Problems related to electrical failures in your home can result in a loss of power at minimum, and at worst damaged or frayed wires or overloaded circuits can result in a fire.
But, it’s important to find a qualified electrician that can either repair, replace, or diagnose a problem. It’s recommended to find an electrician that you can call for an emergency, or for a needed renovation you complete before a disaster strikes. The last thing you want to do during a stressful situation is find a repair service provider and hope you can trust them.
How to know if you need an electrician
A few projects that can be done on your own include switching out light switches or outlet covers, changing fuses, and installing basic light fixtures. Just about every other job should be done by a qualified, licensed, and experienced electrician.
Some jobs that should be left to an electrician include:
- Replace light fixtures in an older home, or replace a light fixture with something larger or that utilizes more amperage to power
- Upgrade your circuit breaker
- Install security systems and lights
- Add electrical outlets to your home
- Upgrade the wiring system in your home
- Swap or update outlets from older two-pronged systems to to grounded versions
Aside from doing work to update your home, you may want to call an electrician to diagnose electrical problems. Signs you may have an electrical problem include:
- Circuit breakers that often trip when you use a specific outlet or power a particular device
- If your lights don’t stay constantly lit and flicker or dim
- Outlets or covers feel warm to the touch or shock you when you insert a plug or remove it
- You don’t have enough outlets and have multiple plugs that utilize several of your outlets
Take a moment and fully evaluate your electrical needs. If possible or appropriate, take photos of problems or concerns that you can send to an electrician for their reference.
How to find an electrician
Once you have determined you do need the assistance of a qualified electrician, you should take a few steps to make sure you not only find an electrician, but you find one that can do what you want and accomplish it correctly and promptly.
Step 1: Understand electrician skills. There are three general skill levels for electricians, and it’s important to understand the capabilities of each type as this will determine what work they are qualified to do and how long they have been working. These include:
- Apprentice electrician: someone who is still attending school and working to learn their trade, who has a license that has been applied for (no skill tests or ability requirements)
- Journeymen electrician: someone who has passed their apprenticeships and been found by some licensing body to be qualified to perform electrical work
- Master electrician: a highly skilled electrician with several years of experience who has passed an exam on the National Electrical Code (NEC)
Step 2: Check the world wide web. Utilize the internet to locate and see how other customers rate electricians. Check reviews for an electrician on such sites as Yelp.com or the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
In addition, you can find electricians in your area through various websites, which include:
Step 3: Go with word of mouth. Ask for personal references from friends, family members, and coworkers. The use of word of mouth can save you a lot of hassle and weed out some of the less qualified electricians in your area. Another option is a real-estate agent, especially if you just purchased a new home.
Step 4: Look for a license. Before any work is started or contracts are signed, be sure you ask for a copy of their operating license. Electricians must be licensed to perform work, so be sure to check that the electrician you hire has a current license. Also check for insurance coverage and bonding to ensure they are able to pay for any damages they may be liable for in the event something goes wrong.
Step 5: Make sure they can do the job. Not all electricians are created equal, and some may specialize in small repairs while others focus on setting up the electrical system for new construction. If you need your house re-wired, you want someone who can do more than fix a faulty outlet. Make sure you let an electrician know exactly what your needs are up-front to ensure they are able to handle the job.
How to hire an electrician
Once you have found an electrician that can accomplish your job it’s time to hire them for the project. To hire an electrician and make sure you have all your bases covered, follow these steps:
Step 1: Request a quote. Request a quote from several electricians for the same job, if possible (unless it’s an emergency situation). And keep in mind when you review quotes the total quoted price often different from the final price, and may not take in consideration quality of work and electrician experience, which will cost more.
Step 2: Ask about added fees. Find out if there will be any fees beyond parts and labor. Some jurisdictions require a permit when there is work done with the electrical system in a home. Some electricians will cover this cost, while others will charge you.
Step 3: Find out about a warranty. Some electricians will offer a warranty on their work, and even parts, which could be worth a slightly higher cost if you have peace of mind that you won’t have to pay for the parts again should an agreed upon problem occur.
Step 4: Sign a contract. Be sure you both sign a contract that details the work to be done, the time frame expected, and rates. In addition, be sure the contract spells out what recourse you have in case the work is not done correctly or damage is done to your home.
Make sure you have a qualified, skilled electrician to handle any electrical repair needs you may have for your home. Doing so can not only save you time and money in the long run, but can also help to ensure the safety of your home’s occupants and belongings.