What to Know About: Electrical Work »
From frayed wires to down powerlines, what can an electrician do to help your home get back on track.
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There are different kinds of electricians. Some mostly work with contractors to install and map out electrical circuits inside homes and commercial buildings while others lay wire for large projects such as telephone lines and traffic lights. Keep this in mind when narrowing your search for a professional. If you need a tradesperson to work on your home or building, contact an inside or house wire expert. These professionals specialize in designing and putting new electrical systems in place for houses and commercial buildings.
When you contact an electrical contractor, describe the job that needs completing. Maybe you have a large project, like a remodeling plan that requires new wiring, or a small one, such as replacing a light switch or socket. Let the electrician know. Not every person you call will have the training and know-how to do more complex work.
To further hone your search, make sure you ask electricians the following questions before hiring:
1. Are You Licensed?
Trades such as HVAC, plumbing and electrical work require contractors to carefully install complicated systems that could be hazardous if they're installed incorrectly. Therefore, most states require electricians to receive training and obtain a license before working. An electrician that's licensed is one that's competent and knowledgeable enough of his or her trade to install and maintain electrical systems.
Electricians must complete thousands of hours of training in order to get a license to practice their trade, so make sure not only the company you choose but the employees doing the work show you their license. When you view the license, ensure that it's up to date and that it's issued by your state.
2. Are You Bonded?
There's potentially a lot that can go wrong if a tradesperson like an electrician installs wiring the wrong way. To spare you and your home or office from subpar work, make sure the electrician is bonded. Being bonded means the professional has an intermediary that can pay for any damage caused to a property or foot the bill if the contractor fails to finish the job.
3. Are You Insured?
Besides a bond, you also need an electrician that's insured. Many states require contractors to carry some form of insurance along with their license. Insist that whomever you hire has the proper amount of insurance for the work you need done and call the insurer to check the policy.
See that who you hire for the job has liability and workers' compensation insurance so you don't end up paying for injuries or accidents caused by the company's work. Workers' compensation insurance means the business can provide for any of its employees if they're hurt on the job.
4. Is Your Business Licensed?
Not only should you check that the electrician is licensed by your state, you should also ask if his or her company has the certification to operate in your area. Both the electrician as well as the business he or she works for need licenses either issued by the state or local municipality.
5. Who Will Do the Work?
Ensure the person who actually comes out to complete the work is licensed, bonded and insured. You need to know not just the company that's doing the work but the person they're sending out to your home or building. Make sure the employee doing the job isn't an unsupervised apprentice. If it happens that the business uses a subcontractor, check with both the company and the tradesperson that the same kind of bond and insurance applies for that subcontractor as it would for an employee.
6. How Much Do You Charge by the Hour?
If you have a small and simple job that needs completing, such as a new light switch, then ask the electrician how much they charge for it before hiring him or her. When it comes to larger, more intensive and time-consuming work, you'll want to inquire about the contractor's hourly rate. Many tradespeople will offer to come out to your home or building, examine it and give you an estimate as well as tell you how much they charge per hour. It's best to get this in writing before proceeding.
While you're at it, call several electricians to come out to your home to give you an estimate on the work. This way you can get an idea of what the average price of the job will be.
7. Do You Offer a Warranty?
Many reputable tradespeople provide warranties for their work. Inquire if both the labor and parts the electrician uses are under warranty and how long the work is guaranteed for.
8. Do You Have or Need a Permit?
Depending on what kind of repairs or installation you need, your city could require a permit for the electrical work. Ask your electrician if the job calls for one and have him or her put the permit under his or her name. Ensuring the tradesperson obtains a permit will safeguard you from any blame if the labor turns out to be subpar.
Finding a trustworthy electrician isn't hard, but you must do your due diligence. Make sure whomever you hire is licensed, bonded and insured, and that the professional can show you proof of all three as well as get the necessary permit for the job. Besides these important factors, you can take further steps to guarantee you obtain a reputable tradesperson.
1. Get Referrals
Ask your family, friends or neighbors if they can recommend a professional to you and inquire if they're pleased with the work. Better yet, ask them if they can show you the project the electrician completed and ask them how long it took the worker to complete it.
2. Look Online
It can't hurt to also check electricians out online. Look for reviews, ratings and, most importantly, see if they have any complaints on file with your municipality or with your local business bureaus. If former customers filed grievances against them, you may want to steer clear.
3. Ask for a Quote
Reputable electricians will give you a quote for small work over the phone if you ask and will travel to your home to quote you a price for larger jobs. Be wary of one that declines to give you an estimate or insists that he or she charge you for coming out to your house.
4. Ask Them About Their Experience
Being bonded, licensed and insured is all well and good, but you also need an experienced professional to do the work. With that said, interview electricians about past projects they completed and how many years they've been in business or how much training they have.
5. Be Wary of Suspiciously Low Estimates
Watch out for contractors that greatly underbid other electricians. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Also, always remember to get the estimate in writing before settling on a company.
While all electricians need a license, not all of them do the same types of jobs. They are usually split up into three groups: outside, inside and residential.
Outside: These types of electricians work outdoors on electrical lines that connect to power plants.
Inside: Inside experts typically focus on commercial and industrial buildings that require a lot of power.
Residential: If you're a homeowner, you'll most likely need to hire an electrician that specializes in residential wiring. Residential electricians work with low-voltage systems and wiring to install fuse boxes and light fixtures.
Like many trade groups, electricians learn their craft by going to vocational schools and shadowing professionals on the job. In order to become a full-fledged professional, a person must undergo an apprenticeship with master and journeyman electricians. An apprentice needs 8,000 hours of practical work before graduating to the journeyman level.
If an apprentice reaches journeyman status, he or she can complete most electrical work but cannot design it until completing more testing along with 2,000 more on-the-job hours.
Many do-it-yourself enthusiasts might be inclined to fix electrical problems around their home, but they risk shock and bodily injury. It's always best to call a licensed electrician, even if you have something as small as an improperly working wall outlet.
Keep the following safety tips in mind: