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Homes and offices often need electrical upgrades and repairs because the existing systems are damaged or unsafe, or simply because our modern appliances create a higher demand than the system can meet.
A qualified electrician can install electrical panels, wiring, and devices in new construction, and can improve safety, add convenience, and even help save on energy bills by upgrading and repairing the electrical system in an existing building.
In some cases, the number of electrical appliances and gadgets we use today–computers, TVs, microwaves, coffee machines–make it necessary to revamp the wiring of older buildings in order to protect the devices as well as our homes.
1. What do Electricians do?
Electricians install, repair, and maintain the electrical systems that distribute power within homes and other buildings. There are several phases of an electrical installation and many components to each system, but in general, electricians handle work related to the electrical panel or fuse box, wiring, outlets, switches, and fixtures.
Electricians may also be called on to repair some fixtures, appliances, and motors, or install other types of wire, such as telephone, antenna, or data cables. Electricians often coordinate their work with pros in other trades to complete the installation of a specific appliance that requires a power supply, but won’t be installed by the electrician. This is usually the case with devices that require another fuel source or system connection, such as a garbage disposal, furnace, dishwasher, or water heater.
2. Why Hire an Electrician?
Working with electricity is potentially dangerous--if not done correctly, fire, injury, and even death can result. Electricians are trained extensively in how to perform the functions of the trade to ensure safety and proper function of the entire system.
If you suspect a problem with a device or the wiring in your home, or if you need your system upgraded or expanded, it should be evaluated by a pro who has the training to troubleshoot and complete the job correctly.
Electricians must be licensed by the states they work in, and most electrical work must be permitted and inspected by local authorities to ensure it meets code requirements. Hiring a pro with the right credentials and insurance helps ensure you get the job done correctly and efficiently.
3. Importance of Finding a Quality Electrician
Because electricity can be dangerous, it’s essential to work with a qualified electrician to ensure the safety and proper function of your home’s electrical system. A good electrician will be able to meet current needs by troubleshooting problems and planning new installations, but will also anticipate future requirements and suggest appropriate upgrades and expansion. Moreover, a great electrician will know how installing power saving electrical appliances or replacing old units can improve energy efficiency in your home.
State and local building authorities have requirements for electrical work to ensure that you and your family are safe, from the type of wire that must be used for specific applications to the number and type of outlets or receptacles required in a room. A quality electrician will be aware of current rules and regulations to ensure that the electrical work at your home meets all safety requirements.
4. Characteristics of a Good Electrician
A good electrician should have all the licenses and permits required to operate in your state, county, or municipality. The electrician should also have up-to-date liability insurance and be willing to show you proof of both licensing and insurance coverage.
A good electrician will be able to provide references from local clients so that you can inquire about their professionalism; the quality of their work and their ability to meet deadlines and keep to cost estimates are important indicators of their abilities and experience.
A good electrician is also one who keeps updated on the latest innovations. Technological advances have provided safer and more energy efficient electrical systems for homes and offices, and your electrician should be willing to discuss new strategies to enhance the safety and performance of your electrical system and help reduce electricity consumption.
5. Signs of a Poor Electrician
When looking for a professional to complete any repair or installation, you need to watch out for signs of a potentially hazardous electrician. Eliminate from your short list those electricians who are not aware of new technology and innovations in their field, who are unable to provide a warranty for their services, who say that permits are not required to make modifications, or those who cannot provide proof of insurance and licenses. Any electrician who is willing to add new devices without checking the existing load on the system can end up causing damage to your property and should not be hired.
6. Type of Jobs for an Electrician
Electricians handle a number of common home repair and improvement jobs, from small-scale installations to complete system replacements. Whenever a project involves wiring or a power supply, an electrician is the pro for the job.
- Electrical Panel Repair: Your home’s electrical panel is the control center of the internal system. A licensed electrician can handle adding or replacing a single breaker or upgrading the entire panel.
- Outlet Installation: If a receptacle is faulty, or if an appliance installation calls for an outlet in a new location, an electrician can run the wires or install the needed devices.
- Light Fixture Repair: Whether problems with a light fixture stem from the wiring in the house or inside the fixture, an electrician can troubleshoot and repair the issue.
- Ceiling Fan Repair: Ceiling fans are a bit more complex than lights, but an electrician can make quick work of repairing issues with the fan, light kit, or related wiring.
In addition to repairing and installing the components of your home’s electrical system, electricians also install chandeliers and light fixtures, relocate outlets, add and replace light switches, and run wiring for hardwired fixtures and appliances, from exhaust fans and water heaters to swimming pool pumps, wall heaters, and workshop tools.
If your project involves new wiring or a panel installation for a home addition or new construction project, an electrician can oversee the entire job, from bringing in power from the provider to installing the light fixtures.
7. What is the Cost to Hire an Electrician?
Since electricians provide a wide range of services, the cost and pricing structure of electrical work often depends on the scale and scope of the job. New installations are often charged by the number of devices or outlets installed and may cost $150 to $250 each, while a panel replacement might be priced as a whole or according to the number of circuits and could cost between $800 and $3,000.
Some electricians might provide flat rate pricing for connecting a fixture or appliance, but the cost of installing new outlets and wiring often depends on the length and accessibility of the run, and repairs are generally billed at an hourly rate.
Labor rates vary by location, but typically fall between $60 and $100 per hour for licensed electricians. Like professionals in many trades, electricians often charge a minimum fee that is equal to two or three hours’ labor charge for service calls and quick repair and installation jobs.
Our Electrical Home Guides provide details on a number of common jobs and can help you plan for the complexity and cost of your own projects.
8. Hire an Electrician
When you require the services of a dependable and committed electrician, connect with one of our trusted electrical pros. Each electrician in our network has been background checked and verified by our in-house team so you’ll know you’re working with a true professional.
We have screened pros in your area to simplify the hiring process for you. Read profiles and reviews and check the credentials of each electrician we recommend. Choose a few to request estimates from, and they will contact you directly to make arrangements to check out your project.