When Should I Call an Electrician?
Although many people believe that electricians are only needed when constructing a new home, a professional is needed when anything involving electricity needs repairing or installation. You and your family’s safety is top priority, so call an electrician instead of attempting to repair or install something yourself. When handling electricity, mistakes can often be costly and very dangerous. The last thing we want is for you to be at risk of electrocution, or cause a fire hazard to your home.
Situations that Require an Electrician Include:
- Continually blowing fuses or tripped circuit breakers
- GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets are not installed in a kitchen, bathroom, garage or the outdoors
- Extension cords are required because there are too few outlets in a room or they are spaced too far apart on the walls
- There is rust on or near your main service panel indicating water damage
- Lights dim when appliances are turned in use
- Electrical switches or outlets feel warm or tingly, or do not function properly
- A desire to add more outlets, switches or light fixtures in a room
- Appliances with 3-prong plugs can’t be used because outlets only accept 2-prong plugs
How Do I Choose The Right Electrician?
Picking an electrician to work in your home can be scary. Often times people avoid repairing hazardous electrical issues because they are afraid of choosing an unprofessional and careless electrician. Although poor contractors who use cheap materials, overcharge, and abuse your time exist, you will be comforted to know that Mister Sparky electricians pride ourselves in honesty, courtesy, and punctuality.
Questions to Ask a Potential Contractor:
- Are You Licensed?
Be sure to only hire a licensed electrician in Maryland possessing a Master’s license. Also, take note that licensed electricians are required to carry a contractor’s bond and liability insurance, which protects you in the event of a problem.
- Do You Have References?
Most people who have a pleasant interaction with a contractor will happily testify on behalf of their experience. If the person you are hiring can’t provide a list of references upon request, that’s not a good sign. Always ask other customers if they were satisfied with your particular electrician’s work, and make sure the contractor came back promptly if there were problems with his work.
- How Long Have You Been in Business?
It’s always a smart idea to ask how long a potential contractor has been in business. If they have been in business for several years, chances are they have a reliable reputation in the industry and provide excellent service to their customers (bad contractors usually go out of business quickly). Also, you want to hire someone that has completed projects similar to yours before. This will ensure confidence and comfort when your electrician shows up to solve your problem in your home.
- Will You Provide an Estimate?
Evaluate the technician during the estimating process by asking a lot of questions. Before you sign a contractor for any work, evaluate them on how they performed before the work is done.
- Other Questions
- Did they show up on time for their appointment?
- Did they answer all of your questions in a timely and friendly manner?
- Did they tell you exactly how much all the work will cost or is just an “estimate” with the final cost to be determined after the work is completed?
- Did they explain in detail all the work that they are going to do?
It is likely that if you had a great experience during the estimating process, then you will also have a great experience when they complete the job.
What Are Some Common Electrical Terms for My Home?
Service, Main or Electrical Panel:
All of these names refer to the metal box where electricity enters your home from the utility company. This panel distributes electricity to all areas of your home to power outlets, appliances, and lighting fixtures. Inside the panel is either a set of fuses (for older homes) or circuit breakers, which limits the amount of electrical current that goes to each circuit. Typical circuits are rated for 15 or 20 amps, however, larger circuits (e.g., 50 amp) are used for major appliances (e.g., air conditioner, range, etc.). A typical home will have 1-3 circuits per room, depending on the size and power requirements of each room.
GFCI or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter:
A GFI is a special type of outlet normally used in locations where moisture tends to accumulate. These areas include kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms, and garages. The GFCI protects you and your family from electrical shock by shutting off if a short circuit to the ground is sensed. You can typically recognize the GFI by the “Reset” and “Test” switches located on the device.