How Do I Find a Good Electrician

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.

Tips and Tricks for DIY Water Damage Cleanup

Every year, floods kill more people than lightning, tornadoes and hurricanes combined. They can also wreak havoc on homes and businesses, requiring everything from new drywall and furnishings to completely new structures.

If your home or commercial property has been flooded, your first priority is safety. Stay away from the area until government officials say it’s safe to return. When you can go back, take emergency supplies and cash with you. If you can get to a phone, call your insurance company and, if necessary, a flood and water damage restoration contractor.

Then, you can get started on assessing the damage. Watch every step, because the risk of slips and falls is high. Also, be very cautious around appliances, gas lines and electrical equipment. Using them prematurely could cause electrical shocks and even explosions. And don’t forget that wet items can be very heavy. Don’t hurt yourself by overdoing it.

The Destruction Water Causes

Water gives us life, but it can also take life and ruin everything in its path. When it comes to your home or businesses, be aware of how the following items can be affected:

Wallboard and drywall:

      These porous materials act like a sponge and become fragile in a flood, and may remain contaminated even after they dry out.

Plaster:

      This thick material may not have to be replaced but it takes a very long time to dry. If it is severely cracked or warped, it will need to be replaced.

Insulation:

      Foam sheets of insulation just need to be hosed off and dried, but muddy fiberglass batts should be thrown out. Cellulose insulation, made of blown-in treated paper, will need to be removed and replaced.

Solid wood:

      Furniture and other solid wood items may warp and crack following a flood, but they can usually be saved when dried out completely.

Particle board and laminated wood:

      These materials may separate and weaken after getting wet and usually need to be replaced.

Wood studs and framing:

      These solid pillars are usually OK if they dry completely. They must be disinfected, but don’t usually have to be replaced. They are most often far from human contact, so risks of harm from any remaining contamination are low.

Floor coverings:

      Most carpets and laminated coverings will have to be thrown out after a flood, especially any with soaked foam rubber backing. A professional cleaner may be able to save small rugs and valuable carpets, which should be removed from the site immediately.

Pipes and electrical wiring:

      Floods can float or break pipes and strip electrical wiring. Unless you’re sure you know what you’re doing, work with a contractor if you see damage to these items.

Appliances:

      These can be shorted out during floods and can leak harmful and explosive gases into the air. They will need to be cleaned and checked by a professional before use.

HVAC:

    Heater and air conditioner units can become flooded, which can damage their internal electrical systems and douse pilot lights. They can also become muddy, and cleaning them will require professional cleaning. In addition, venting systems can flood and become contaminated. If that happens, they must be taken apart and hosed off piece by piece to prevent contamination from being blown through the air.

Dos and Don’ts of Flood and Water Damage Cleanup

Getting Ready

The first thing you will need to do after a flood is make sure that it’s safe for you and your family to be on the property.

  • DO beware of rodents, snakes and insects that might have come in with flood waters
  • DO smell for gas and look for damaged power and gas lines, foundation cracks and exterior damage
  • DO look for broken pilings, shifted stairs, slanted floors and walls
  • DO turn off water and power (unless you would have to do so while standing in water)
  • DON’T enter your home or business if you see major structural damage
  • DON’T walk on sagging floors or floors above sagging ceilings
  • DON’T use electrical appliances or turn on ceiling fans and lights if the ceilings are wet

First Steps

Once you’re ready to start the cleaning process, it’s important to prioritize. At this stage:

  • DO check that your running water is safe to drink and to use for cleaning
  • DO flush your toilet before you use it to check for clogs from mud and debris
  • DO check for cabinets and other items that may be ready to fall over
  • DO temporarily patch holes in the walls and roof with plastic wrap and repair floors and roof sections with 4X4s if you can do so safely
  • DO remove debris
  • DO remove water trapped in walls
  • DO open all the doors and windows to improve ventilation
  • DO use a wet vac, shop vac, fans, dehumidifiers and desiccants (materials that absorb moisture) to start drying out the property
  • DON’T drain a flooded basement too quickly, because rapid changes in pressure could cause the foundation to collapse
  • DON’T do structural or electrical work yourself
  • DON’T connect generators to the home’s power system, but plug in fans and appliances directly
  • DON’T use generators, grills, camp stoves or charcoal inside homes or within closed areas
  • DON’T use a household vacuum to remove water and mud
  • DON’T let garbage pile up, as it could exacerbate contamination and house pests
  • DON’T leave pools of standing water, which could become breeding grounds for mosquitoes

Putting it All Back Together

Once these major issues are handled, you can start on the water damage cleanup and flood restoration itself.

  • DO wear protective clothing, boots and rubber gloves
  • DO wash your hands often with soap and water
  • DO remove all wall coverings and throw them out, as they may harbor mold
  • DO remove drywall, finished ceilings and most insulation that’s been in contact with flood water
  • DO throw out permeable materials such as padded furniture and foam rubber
  • DO throw out all exposed food, beverages and medicine, including canned goods
  • DO disinfect dishes and other items with soap and hot water, but throw out all soft plastics
  • DO clean hard surfaces with hot water and soap or detergent
  • Do wipe down wooden items and, if possible, take them elsewhere to dry out
  • DO preserve items such as books, documents and photographs in re-sealable bags and freeze them to be cleaned later
  • DO place aluminum foil or wood blocks in between wet floors and the legs of furniture that can’t be moved
  • DO make a list of the damage and take photos or videos
  • DO keep a piece of damaged floor and wall coverings to show your insurance assessor
  • DO check with your mortgage holder before cashing home insurance checks, especially if the damage is extensive

Should You Call a Professional Restoration Service?

Cleaning up after a flood is a lot of work and it is possible to do much of it yourself. However, the costs in time, supplies and machinery rental escalate quickly. Furthermore, you may need professional contractors to do the work to be eligible for home and flood insurance reimbursements or to acquire building permits.

How to Maintain Your Central Air Conditioning Unit

Cut your cooling costs considerably with this simple  checklist


There are many behavioral changes you can make to improve the efficiency of your home’s central air conditioning system. Turning on a ceiling fan, which costs little to run, can make you feel up to 4° F cooler. Closing curtains and blinds during the hottest time of day is another easy way to lower the demands on your central AC. While these small steps can add up, you won’t see maximum savings unless the central air conditioning units themselves are running at peak efficiency. The following checklist from the experts at Consumer Reports will see you through the rest of the cooling season.

Step 1: Conduct Seasonal Checks

As the summer growing season grinds on, shrubs, trees branches, and the like can start to encroach on your central AC’s outdoor unit. That can affect the efficiency of the condenser. Clear debris from around the unit and keep vegetation at least 2 feet away. It’s also important to clean indoor grills and filters on a monthly basis.

Step 2: Turn Up the Temperature

Raising the thermostat a single degree could shave 3 to 5 percent from your cooling costs. If your home doesn’t have a programmable thermostat, consider making the upgrade. By automatically adjusting temperatures when you’re asleep or away from home, the device can pay for itself in a few short years.

Step 3: Call in the Pros

Once a year, have a licensed professional perform a full inspection on your air conditioning units. This will involve cleaning and flushing the condenser coils, draining the pan and drainage system, vacuuming the blower compartments, and checking the refrigerant and mechanical parts.

It’s also worth asking them to check the ductwork, especially if your cooling bills have been higher than normal. Up to 30 to 40 percent of energy can escape through leaky or uninsulated ducts. And if your home also has forced-air heat that uses the same ductwork, sealing leaks and adding insulation could end up paying for itself in just a few years.

Ready for an Upgrade?

Today’s central AC equipment is much more efficient than it was just 10 years ago. Updating or even replacing a system that’s older than that is another way to curb cooling costs, especially if you choose an Energy Star qualified model. Be sure to check our central air reliability survey to find the least failure-prone central AC brands.