Electrical Services Explained, Plus How to Find an Electrician
The typical modern American depends on electricity. Our appliances, lights, pool systems, air conditioners, computers, chargers, commercial and industrial equipment, and healthcare facilities all depend on power, and for most of the country, that power is electricity.
We are a population dependent upon electricians—those tradespeople who get our electrical systems installed, maintained and repaired.
Do you know what services electrical contractors provide? Do you know how to find a good electrical contractor? If you don’t know the answer to either question, this article is for you.
In Part One, we’ll cover electrical contractor services. In Part Two, we’ll show you how to find a great electrician.
Part One: Electrician Services
Electrical companies provide many services that you may not be aware of until you need the services and start researching. Below is a partial list of services offered by most electrical companies.
Just as you schedule an annual physical with your doctor, you should schedule a yearly home or building inspection with your electrician. Electrical contractors provide electrical home safety inspections as a standalone service.
Annual inspections reveal abnormalities, damage, or weaknesses in buildings’ electrical components and wiring. Caught early, problems can be fixed, avoiding potentially high costs later when problems grow into bigger issues.
Inspections also reveal problems in wiring or outlets that if left unaddressed could result in fires.
Power surges are caused by a variety of reasons, but the event itself is always the same: a sudden spike in voltage that overheats and burns wiring. When the wiring is inside appliances, electronics, and devices, these items can be destroyed.
Consumer surge protectors are inexpensive and usually look like big outlet strips. They are helpful but not always 100% effective and usually must be replaced after a voltage surge.
The best protection against voltage spikes is a whole-house surge protector. This is a system that must be installed by a licensed electrician. It offers maximum protection against sudden voltage surges.
When known damage occurs to the components of an electrical system, an electrician can make repairs. Examples include lights that don’t work because the sockets have gone bad; outlets that have been damaged by lightning; and wiring that has been chewed by rodents.
GFCI outlets are special outlets that contain a component designed to prevent electric shock. The “Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter” component interrupts or stops the current flow when an imbalance in the flow is detected. The outlet contains a reset button to restore current flow.
GFCI outlets are usually in kitchens and bathrooms, and often also in garages, laundry rooms, and outdoor poolside bars.
Wiring in a house or building should be in excellent condition and able to easily keep up with demand. Worn-out or overloaded systems may show these signs:
- Outlets or lightbulbs buzz or sizzle
- Plugs, cords, and switch plates are warm or hot
- Breakers often trip
- Lights dim and flicker
- You feel a small shock when plugging in a cord
- An outlet sparks when a cord is plugged in
Rewiring the building or a portion of the building may be necessary to ease the strain on the system or to replace worn out segments.
Electrical Panel Upgrades
In the typical home or building that receives electricity from a power company, the electrical panel is the point of distribution to the rest of the structure.
Over the years, as more appliances, devices, and electronics are brought into the house and plugged in, the demand for electricity increases. Sometimes electrical panels need to be upgraded so that the house’s electrical system can keep up with the demand.
Panels also often need upgrading in homes or buildings that are over 40 years old. Systems experience wear and failure, and they also fall out of compliance with codes and regulations.
If you note the following, you may need an electrical panel upgrade:
- The inside of the panel feels warm
- You hear crackling sounds in the panel
- The circuit breakers are corroded/rusty
- Your appliances are running at half-speed
What goes into an electrical panel upgrade? Typical service includes replacing circuit breakers, replacing the bus bar, and electrical panel rewiring. Sometimes the upgrade involves relocating the panel to a different part of the house or building.
Light Fixture and Ceiling Fan Installation
Electricians install light fixtures and ceiling fans. When lights or fans have deteriorated with age or property owners want to upgrade the styles, a licensed electrician is the tradesperson who can perform the installations. He or she will put in recessed lights, ceiling-mounted lights, sconces, chandeliers, bathroom lights, and paddle fans.
Outdoor and Landscape Lighting
Landscape lighting, deck lighting, and patio and pool lighting are installed by electrical companies. Electricians will also undertake commercial outdoor lighting projects such as parking lot lighting, illuminated signs, and security lighting.
Landscape lighting upgrades a home or business’s exterior and adds to the curb appeal and overall property value.
Emergency Electrical Services
Like other service providers, most electrical companies offer 24/7 emergency services. Since electrical emergencies happen at all hours of the day and night, for a home or business owner’s peace of mind, it’s good to know an electrician with off-hours service.
Part Two: Finding a Great Electrician
It’s pretty much a given that at some point you’ll need the services of an electrician. In this part of the article, we’ll give you some ideas of how to find several providers and then narrow your list down to a final pick.
Start with Asking Around
Word-of-mouth recommendations are the place to start when it comes to looking for a great electrical contractor. So, ask around. Especially ask people you trust, people who are local, and people with expectations like yours.
Get onto a Facebook or a Nextdoor community group and ask for referrals.
Don’t forget to ask if there are local electricians that you should avoid hiring. That information is as valuable as the referrals.
Get online to Look
Jump on your mobile device or your desktop and search for “electrician near me” or “electrician <your city>.”
Look at Online Reviews and Ratings
Testimonials on an electrician’s website are one thing but finding reviews on impartial sites is much better in terms of giving an accurate picture of the company. Go to sites like Yelp and the Better Business Bureau for reviews. Check out Google business reviews as well.
Visit Electricians’ Websites
Once you’ve gathered the names of a few electricians and looked at some reviews, take the next step and visit their websites. Look at their list of services and “About Us” page. Get a feel for each company and how it conducts business. Is it a mom and pop with roots in the community but maybe no 24/7 service? Is it a national company with emergency services but little personality? Ideally, you’ll find several that offer comprehensive services and have a reputation for good work and great customer care.
Get on the Phone with Prospective Hires
With your list of recommended electricians and the data you’ve gathered by looking at reviews and company websites, get on the phone and call each company. Tell the representative about the work you need to have done and ask a few follow-up questions.
- Are all company employees drug tested and background checked?
- Will employees at your house be in uniform with a photo ID?
- Who does the work? A Master Electrician or an Apprentice?
- If an Apprentice is on the job, does a Master Electrician check it?
If you’re satisfied with the answers, arrange for an estimate visit. Schedule estimate visits with three companies.
The Estimate Visit
During an estimate visit, an electrician comes to your home or business to look at the work you need to have done and give you a price. Usually, the estimate is written on a paper form.
The estimate appointment will be your first face-to-face visit with a person from that company. This is your introduction to the company and how it does business. Take note of a few things during the appointment.
- Did the electrician drive a company vehicle?
- Was he or she dressed in a uniform with a photo ID?
- Was the electrician thorough in looking at the work to be done and discussing with you the repair options?
- Did he or she answer all your questions in a relaxed manner?
- Did you feel like you were dealing with a courteous professional?
You should receive a written estimate either at the end of the estimate appointment or within 24 hours via email. When you have three estimates in hand, decide which company to hire and schedule the work.
The First Job
The real test of the company will be when the work is done. The quality of the job will determine if you decide to hire the company again in the future.
As you assess the work and your experience with the company, think about the following:
- Were company reps and the electrician who did the job clear and easy to understand?
- Scheduling the work. Did you get on the calendar quickly?
- Reasonable and competitive?
- Work quality. Was it excellent the first time around?
- The electrician. Was he or she clean, courteous, and professional?
How you answer these questions for yourself will help you decide to use the company again or try a different contractor next time.
Hiring a licensed and insured electrician is a must when it comes to getting electrical work done in your home or business. It should not be attempted by an amateur.
Electricians provide many services. Some contractors offer more services than others so check websites for complete lists. Installations, electrical repairs, whole house rewiring, and panel and wiring upgrades are some of the basic services most electricians provide.
Berkeys Dallas Electricians Service The Following Locations