When it comes to homeownership, being an enterprising DIY type can come in handy. Who doesn’t want to save some money with upcycling or Pinterest projects? If HGTV’s popularity is anything to go by, most of us imagine ourselves as competent enough to keep up with the teams on This Old House.
On the other hand, being a handyman and being an electrician– these are not the same thing.
Think about it:
If you mess up refinishing a table, or hanging drywall, what’s the worst that could happen? A bad end result? Needing to start over? These are hardly world-ending problems.
What happens if you mess up working on some electrical repairs in your home? What happens if you don’t run a proper home safety check after the work is done?
Realistically, you could be harmed or even killed by the high voltages running through your home. Even small electric repair jobs – lighting services, outlet installations, ceiling fan wiring – can be attached to serious risk factors.
Protect yourself. Whether you’re in Fort Lauderdale, some other part of Florida, or you’re reading this from another part of the USA or even another country, we do not recommend taking electrical repairs lightly.
Electrical hazards cause over 300 deaths and 4,000 injuries every year. It’s the sixth highest cause of workplace deaths, and isn’t far behind in deaths within the home. That’s without counting deaths related to electrical fires. When those factors are included, the numbers more than double.Unfortunately, faulty or aging electrical wiring is responsible for a substantial percentage of all house fires.
There’s no shame in asking for professional help when it comes to things that can harm you or your loved ones..
You’ve decided to hire an electrician? Great … now what?!
Now that we’ve convinced you that electrical repair is not for the untrained, you’ve got to figure out how to hire the right electrician for the job you’ve got in mind. “Better safe than sorry” applies to the actual electrical work, but also to the electrician you choose to hire.
For most people, the first instinct is to use Google. Search strings like “electrician near me” or “electrician in my area” can be a great place to start, but names and numbers don’t give you enough information to go on.
In this article, we’re going to give you the tools you need to weed out the kind of electrical contractors you don’t want. That means people who:
“Now, wait,” I hear you thinking, “ Surely I can at least assume that a company with a website and a professional email address can be trusted not to be shady, right?
Anyone can make a website these days. But there are things they can’t do, like manufacture a fake reputation, and we’ll teach you how to separate the good from the bad.
Here’s a free hint: we’re pretty sure we’re with the good guys.
So, without further ado, let’s help you make the right choice – the first time.
Ten Foolproof Tips to Select an Electrical Contractor
Trust is a valuable commodity. If you have someone in your life, a relative, friend, neighbor, coworker, and they’ve had some electrical work done, you should find out who they hired and what they thought. Word of mouth is impossible to fake. If a company comes highly recommended by someone whose word you rely on, that’s an excellent place to start. Conversely, if your source had a bad experience, you’re blessed with an electrician you can quietly cross off your list.
Do make lists, by the way. We’ll get into that in a minute.
The bottom line here is that your friends and family are a great resource. Once you’ve found a great electrician, don’t forget that you are now the carrier of that word-of-mouth and you can recommend them to new people, as well!
If you can’t get a personal recommendation – or even if you’ve gotten one – use a web search or business directory to locate a few electricians. Be ready to reach out to them, as well.
However, before you even call them, there are a few ways you can vet them on your own, all with a few simple clicks. Most online businesses will have reviews on sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, Google, and the Better Business Bureau. These are independent agencies that don’t allow “buying” of good reviews.
When a company has been around long enough, you’ll probably find reviews that aren’t perfect. Those can be even more valuable than raves. Read the good and bad reviews, and try to get a sense of whether the contractor is a good fit for your needs.
With good reviews, look for what the customer loved about them, and compare it to your wishlist. If professionalism tops your list, see if a reviewer mentions politeness, uniforms, clean trucks, adhering to timelines, and things like that. If budget is super important to you, see if any reviewers mention them staying in or under their estimate.
With bad reviews, give some thought as to whether the contractor earned the bad review. Were they late? Were they unprofessional or rude? Did they hit the customer with hidden fees?
Good or bad, reviews can tell you a lot. If you aren’t sure after reading reviews, you’ll at least have good questions to ask when you call them. We’ve had customers read reviews online and then call us to ask questions those reviews brought up – that’s a great way to get a feel for a contractor!
Profit margins in any kind of contractor work – electrical, plumbing, general construction, you name it – are razor thin. You’re looking for the right balance between affordable and professional. Usually, the best contractor is neither the cheapest nor the most expensive.
You start by getting quotes!
Any reputable electrician in Chula Vista will be aware of pricing trends, and therefore willing to give a detailed estimate for any job. That estimate should include parts, labor, and itemization for things like hourly rates, overtime, or other incidentals. If any contractor refuses to provide you with a quote, say goodbye.
Get as many quotes as you feel you need. Three or four is usually good. That will give you a healthy range to work with. Then …
If their estimate is too high or too low, throw a flag on the play. You can get more details on why their price is what it is. You should be asking about guarantees that work is up-to-code and will be warrantied for repairs for a certain amount of time.
You should also find out whether the electrician you’re dealing with is licensed and affiliated. There are certifications and national firms that allow contractors to work under their umbrella or use their name. Sometimes, those contractors cost more than independent companies. They may or may not be worth the added expense.
Every electrician you call should be ready and willing to show licenses and insurance. Florida electricians and electrical contractors are required to take an exam that covers circuits, conductors, grounding, safety, and more. Whether you’re in Fort Lauderdale or the Keys, make sure that your electrician is licensed.
Florida has four types of electrician’s licenses, split between electricians and electrical specialty contractors, and split again between “Certified” and “Registered” providers. Certified contractors are licensed statewide, while registered contractors only possess a local license for specific counties or municipalities. Which certification they hold does not necessarily dictate their level of competence. What you want to avoid is a contractor who doesn’t hold any.
The same holds true for insurance. If an uninsured contractor has trouble on your property, and damage or injury ensues, you could be held liable. Make sure you see up-to-date proof of insurance before any deposits are made or contracts are signed.
Electrical work is quite complex. While most electricians can handle anything you throw their way, some jobs are a bit more specialized. If your needs involve simple wiring and fixtures, you’re probably safe with any reputable company. On the other hand, if you need control systems designed or improved, or a security system installed, or a transformer connected or disconnected, you might want to ensure that the company you’re speaking to can send a Master Electrician or a skilled Journeyman with the appropriate experience out to your home.
Licensed Residential Chula Vista Electrician Contractors - How to Put Their Time (and Your Money) To the Best Use
When it comes to the safety of your home electrical system, most Chula Vista home owners turn to a licensed electrician contractor. Professional electricians charge a trip or diagnostic fee to come to your home or office as well as an hourly service fee—even if the job takes less than an hour.
Next time you call an electrical contractor, consider putting their time—and your money—to the best use possible. Ask your electrician to take a look at common smaller tasks that will improve home safety, comfort and convenience. Those may include the following:
Inspect your main electrical service
Have your home’s service inspected, especially in older homes with outdated 60 and 100-amp service, including newer homes where standard 100-150 amp panels may be burdened by the addition of modern household appliances and gadgets.
Upgrade old 2 prong outlets
Upgrade your existing outlets to ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets, which provide a much higher level of safety and protection by automatically shutting off when a circuit is overloaded.
Install dimmer switches for lighting fixtures
Replace a standard on-off type toggle switch with a dimmer switch. This allows you to save energy and to adjust the level of light for different rooms and needs. Be sure you purchase dimmable fluorescent bulbs to make the most of the adjustable dimming function.
Install under-cabinet lighting
They are relatively easy to install and will brighten your kitchen, home office or living areas. LED lighting is especially popular due to the color and hue options that are available.
Install a programmable thermostat
According to many studies, programmable thermostats can cut energy usage by 15 percent or more by automatically controlling the temperature during peak and off-peak A/C and heating periods.
Install an outlet(s) on the exterior of your home
Exterior outlets eliminates the need for unsafe extension cords and make the use of outdoor lawn care and lighting appliances easier to implement.
Need a reliable and experienced electrician for your Chula Vista Home?
When you need electrical work done in Chula Vista, doing it yourself can be tricky, not to mention dangerous.... that’s why it is a good idea to hire a qualified, master electrician. BUT, how do you know who to hire when there are so many to choose from?
We conducted some research and came up with 5 things to keep in mind next time you need an electrician:
1) Check to be sure your electrician is registered and properly licensed
Here in Chula Vista, electricians must be certified and licensed by the state of California. Go to the California electrical contractor licensing site to check and confirm their state certification. Licensing does not guarantee great service or quality work, but it does confirm they are properly licensed to perform electrical work and pull permits as needed.
It is very important that they carry liability insurance as well. If they don’t have a current and up-to-date policy, you become personally liable for any injuries that occur on your job site.
2) Check electrician reviews carefully
Independently verified and confirmed reviews are best to prevent fraudulent review activity so use caution. Sites like Yelp and Google have a strict process to ensure the reviews you see are accurate and represent the experience of real customers.
Look for overall ratings of at least 3.5 out of 5. The higher the better but some bad reviews are a part of being in business and indicate the reviews are from real customers. If an electrician receives a bad review they should immediately respond to the review and attempt to resolve the problem as quickly as possible.
If there is no written response to their online reviews it may mean the contractor is simply not sensitive to customer feedback which is never a good sign. So, make good use of the feedback from other customers (both positive and negative)...it matters much more than what electrical contractors say about themselves!
3) Get electrical repair quotes in writing
Even if it is a smaller repair, be sure to get the repair cost in writing. Make sure you understand when and how there can be additional, unquoted fees. For larger electrical repair jobs including installations and upgrades like panel replacements, service upgrades, and house rewiring, insist on a fully detailed, written estimate.
Make sure the quote includes the warranty, when the work will begin and any conditions you have to agree to, including the total price and permitting requirements, if any.
4) Shop your electrician wisely and ask questions
You know the old saying - if it appears too good to be true, it probably is. The best and most qualified electricians in Chula Vista are rarely, if ever, the cheapest. A quality tradesman is not going to work for wages, so keep that in mind.
It’s easy for an electrician to cut corners to save money, but just like in new home construction, the true cost of poor quality can raise its ugly head and wind up costing you much more in the end.
5) Check with your closest associates
Finally, ask friends and neighbors for recommendations as that may get you to someone good very quickly. Also, if you are dealing with an electrician for the first time, it is always a good idea to get three quotes before making the final decision.
Ideally, the one you pick should be a specialist in whatever you need done, and he/she should guarantee their work for a period of time. And, as an electrician, our best source of new business is referrals from our existing client base. So let them know that you will be generous with your referrals provided they do a great job and keep all promises.
Uh-oh, that circuit breaker just tripped again...So you run to the panel and flick it back on.
All is well...
Or is it?
If a breaker trips once, it may not be a big deal.
But, more than once? Something is up.
Like if your dog suddenly howls in the middle of the night, it's a bit unsettling. But, you check it out just to be safe. While Buttercup can be irritating; she is protecting her home. And, it's the same with your circuit breakers; they protect you and your house from burning down.
Any time an electrical problem arises with an appliance or its wiring connection, within milliseconds your circuit breaker springs into action and shuts it all down. Ruff ruff..
Remember; your circuit breakers are a safety net that alert you when electrical problems occur.
Sometimes, a tripped circuit breaker can be as simple as an old, worn out breaker that just needs replacing. Other common culprits include:
Functional breakers trip when electrical current exceeds the rated "ampacity" of the circuit. If a breaker is labeled as "30", this means it is designed to handle up to 30 amps.
If the current flowing through that circuit exceeds 30 amps for any reason, the breaker is designed to trip and prevent the excessive heat buildup that can melt wires and cause fires.
To diagnose the underlying problem, an electrician will first use an amp probe to determine if the current draw of a connected appliance is excessive. If that checks out, he/she will test the breaker to see if it is defective and weak.
If all is still well, it usually means there is a problem with the electrical wiring that connects the wall outlet to the breaker in the panel.
Many times, a handyman or inexperienced "electrician" will overload a single circuit by piggybacking a new circuit off an existing breaker because he or she doesn't want to go through the hassle of adding a dedicated circuit for a newly installed device or appliance.
For example, you have a dedicated circuit to protect the outdoor section of your central air conditioning system. A manual "disconnect" switch is placed near the outdoor unit so the A/C technician can shut the system down while he is working on it.
Sometimes, an additional circuit is needed nearby, such as a well pump or outdoor lighting cicuit. So, instead of installing a dedicated circuit with it's own circuit breaker from the panel, they will simply tap into this disconnect box and draw power from there.
This is not only haphazard, but unsafe.
If the A/C unit draws 15 amps and the new connection requires 10-12 amps, that 30 amp circuit breaker is only 3-5 amps from tripping and is dangerously overloaded.
3 ways properly sized and correctly installed circuit breakers add safety and peace of mind:
1) Properly sized breakers protect you and your home from overloaded circuits which can lead to severe appliance damage, melted wires, and dangerous electrical fires.,
2) Older breakers and circuits are not properly "grounded" and many aren't in compliance with today’s code requirements. Whole house surge protectors are available to help protect your modern devices such as computers, expensive appliances, televisions, musical systems and other entertainment equipment.
3) Most older homes in Chula Vista have fused systems that don’t have adequate space for the additional circuits that today’s electrical loads demand, such as: central air conditioning, hot tubs, electric stoves, water heaters, dryers, electric heat, room additions, etc.
Fuses are different than breakers
Fuses are "screwed" into place installed of being permanently installed like the black circuit breakers you see in newer panels. In this case, an electrical service upgrade is in order.
This entails not only an upgraded service or breaker panel but also a new 200 amp meter and upgraded electrical service from the street. (Your utility provider takes care of that part).
As you can imagine, breaker box and service panel upgrades are NOT a DIY project. So, if the man of the house says he can "git her dun", my advice is to pick up the phone and call us immediately.
I'm sure we can "shock" some sense into him as we explain the ramifications of 240 volts of electrical current as it flows through the human body.
Questions? For award winning circuit breaker repair or replacement, give us a call at 619-361-1956. And, take advantage of our exclusive internet offer for Chula Vista homeowners just below.
Here's a sobering tip for you:
Studies conducted by The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reveal that aluminum wiring, common in most older homes, presents a serious safety risk; one that can result in fires, injuries, and death.
These same studies also found that homes with aluminum wiring built prior to the early 1970's are 55x more likely to result in a fire than homes that are wired with copper. These studies confirm that replacing any sub-standard aluminum wiring with copper is a smart way to prevent deadly home fires.
Why is aluminum wiring such a culprit in these studies? Aluminum is a soft and pliable metal, one reason it is so useful in many industries. Unfortunately, home electrical wiring is not one of these.
Copper is a good conductor and provides less resistance to electrical current, meaning significantly less heat is produced as electricity passes through. Aluminum, on the other hand, is less conductive and resists the passage of electricity. This resistance produces more heat and can result in hot, melting wires over time.
Symptoms of aluminum wiring problems include a burning smell, dimming lights, power outages, and tripped breakers, all of which can overload your system, damage appliances, and cause electrical fires.
If you live in a Chula Vista home that was built from around 1963 to as late as 1978, it is likely you have aluminum wiring. It’s also possible that aluminum wire was used to add or modify existing circuits in your home even if it wasn’t built in that period.
The best thing to do if you are unsure is to have your entire electrical system evaluated by a licensed electrician and convert from aluminum to copper connections. We offer free estimates on home electrical wiring for our Chula Vista neighbors
This is NOT something you want to hand over to just any electrician
My Electrician Chula Vista specializes in eliminating the dangers that aluminum wiring can present. And, nothing against the millenials and gen-Xer's, but this is something many younger electricians are not as familiar with as us, well, more mature electricians.
The options available for converting from aluminum to copper connections include:
Be especially careful of the electrician you select here as this job requires special certification and very expensive tools.
It should be noted that a complete rewiring of your entire home with copper wire can be very costly and impractical. As an alternative for a permanent repair, the U.S. CPSC recommends instead, the use of special connectors called AlumiConn connectors.
Aluminum wiring replacement alternative
The AlumiConn method is a cost effective solution for many older homes with electrical wiring issues. However, this alternate method of electrical repair requires a certified electrician familiar with aluminum wire problems and repair methods.
My Electrician Chula Vista will convert your home from aluminum wire to copper wire everywhere that matters, including every wall plug, light switch and light fixture. Our use of AlumiConn wire lug connectors can save you time, money,and frustration.