An outlet that sparks every so often could be warning you about faulty or loose wiring. A flickering light might be from an old lightbulb—or it could mean a circuit overload.
Selecting the right electrician can be just as challenging. What questions do you ask to know you picked the right company?
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What Are Some Common Electrical Problems?
- A sparking outlet—could indicate a short circuit, bad wiring, or an old outlet.
- Electrical surges—typically due to poor wiring.
- Tripping circuit breaker—usually sign that too many things are running at the same time.
- Flickering lights—could be a frayed wire or circuit overload.
- Light bulbs burning out frequently—could be the wrong type of bulb or poor wiring.
Never ignore an electrical problem. Home electrical fires in the United States account for an estimated 51,000 fires each year, hundreds of deaths, and $1.3 billion in property damage, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) [LINK: esfi.org].
Asking the Right Questions
Start with the quote. We recommend seeking quotes from at least three reputable contractors—especially for a costlier project. Be sure you’re comparing apples to apples—each estimate should cover the same services and scope of work.
Ask the electrician if they hold a Journeyman license or a Master Electrician License. The only difference between the two is years of experience.
Will the job require a permit? Small jobs like changing a fixture or replacing outlets do not. Larger ones, such as whole-house rewiring or installing a standby generator, typically require a permit.
The wires in your home hide behind walls and ceilings. If your electrician needs to cut into drywall, will they arrange for the repairs, or is that your responsibility? These details should be spelled out in the quote or contract.
Experience always matters in electrical, plumbing, and HVAC work. Be sure the person you hire is familiar with the job you need. A reputable company will acknowledge if a job is too complex or outside their scope of work.
What about a warranty? Most companies guarantee their work with a warranty. Be sure to get something in writing to protect you in the future if necessary.
Ask the electrician if they include an overall electrical safety inspection in the job. These inspections ensure everything electrical in your home is working correctly. Even if you have to pay a nominal cost, a safety inspection is worth the extra fee.
Do a little homework. Find out the company’s rating on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and read any online reviews. Don’t be afraid to ask the company for references. A good company will quickly provide this information.
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