How to Find a Good Electrician For Top Electrical Service Repairs
If you own or manage buildings of any kind, whether they are residential, commercial, medical, or industrial, you’ll need the services of a reliable electrical contractor. If not today, then you’ll need them tomorrow, or next month, or next year.
Given that electricity powers and charges everything in our world from cars to computers to coffee machines, you need an electrician you can trust who is available day or night.
In a competitive field crowded with electrical companies, how do you find the best one? Or at least a good one?
We’ll talk about that in the second part of this article. First, we’ll discuss the kinds of services you can expect an electrician to perform.
What Services Do Electricians Provide?
A structure’s electrical system should be inspected annually. In an electrical inspection, all components of a system are examined to make sure they are in proper working order. An electrician will find and fix damaged wiring, failing components, faulty outlets, and the like.
Getting annual electrical safety inspections can help homeowners avoid expensive repairs down the road by catching problems early. Inspections can also reveal problems that could lead to dangerous fires if not addressed.
Worn-out wiring or electrical systems that have become overloaded may need rewiring. How can you tell if your home or building needs rewiring? Look for these signs:
- Lights aren’t as bright as they should be
- Lights sometimes flicker
- Cords and plugs get hot
- You can hear buzzing or sizzling in outlets
- You feel a shock when plugging in a cord
- Breakers often trip
- You see sparks when plugging cords into outlets
Take these signs seriously and call an electrician. He or she may perform a simple repair, or a whole house rewiring may be necessary for the safety of all occupants of the house or building.
GFCI Outlet Installation
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets are designed to prevent people from getting shocked. Usually located in kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and porches, these outlets are built to immediately stop the flow of electric current when a sensor detects an imbalance in the flow. GFCI outlets have a reset button that when depressed allows for the current to flow again normally.
Power surges are sudden elevations in voltage that burn the wiring inside appliances, electronics, and devices. Low-cost surge protectors in the form of outlet strips are on the market, and many homeowners rely on these to keep their possessions safe. These units do not always offer enough protection, however.
The most reliable protection is a whole house surge protector. A licensed electrician must install this kind of system.
Electrical Panel Upgrades
The electrical panel is the place where electricity from the outside power company gets distributed through the various circuits of the home or building. Sometimes electrical panels need to be upgraded. When a home or building is several decades old (or older), sometimes the panel needs to be beefed up to handle the modern household’s demand. Today’s families and businesses utilize a host of devices and electronics that all draw power and put pressure on the electrical panel.
Signs that your electrical panel may need upgrading include crackling sounds coming from the panel, rusty or corroded circuit breakers, or warmth inside the panel. Another sign is if appliances no longer run at full power.
An electrical panel upgrade may involve electrical panel rewiring, bus bar replacement, and circuit breaker replacement.
Fixture Installation: Lights and Fans
Electricians are the tradespeople who install lights, fans, chandeliers, sconces, recessed lights, track lights, and ceiling-mounted lights. Hire these professionals for new installations or if any of these fixtures need repair or replacing.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Call an electrician to install your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. These warning devices should be checked annually.
Landscape and Outdoor Lighting
Residential landscape lighting, security, and outdoor lighting are installed by electrical companies. Commercial exterior lighting includes the illumination of parking lots, signage, sports venues, hospitals, business parks, amusement parks, etc.
Now, How to Find a Trustworthy Electrician
There are many reputable and affordable electricians. And, as in any industry, there are also a few bad apples. The tips below will help you find a good electrician—a provider who will do the job well, charge you reasonably, and deliver professional service.
Start by Asking Around
Ask local people you trust for the names of electrical companies they have used. Getting a personal recommendation is worth its weight in gold. Don’t forget to ask if they’ve hired a company that they would not ask back; that information is just as valuable.
Ask about the quality of the company’s customer service and work done, the affordability of pricing, and how the technician presented himself or herself.
You can find out a lot just by looking online. Get on your browser and search for “electrician near me” or “electrician <my city>.” That will bring up a list of tradespeople you can start with.
Check Online Reviews
Satisfied customers will often take the trouble to go online and post a review. Dissatisfied customers definitely take the time to air their opinions. Visit impartial review sites such as Yelp and the Better Business Bureau and read what people are saying about the companies you’re looking at. Google reviews can be responded to by providers, but providers can’t alter reviews, so in addition to seeing customer feedback, you can also see how the company handles negative comments.
Social media channels such as Facebook and community apps such as Nextdoor are great places to find recommendations and warnings.
Visit Electricians’ Websites
You can learn a lot by browsing an electrical company’s website. Look at its list of services, its photo gallery, and the About page. Often the About page will include information on the company’s history as well as on the individuals who make up the company’s management.
Call a Few Electrical Companies
Once you’ve gone through all the steps above, identify the three most likely candidates to investigate further. Call each company. Describe the work that you need to have done and then ask the questions that were not answered on their website.
These questions may include the following:
- How soon can they get to your job?
- Do they do estimate visits? For free?
- Who does the work? A master electrician?
- Are company employees drug tested? Background checked?
- How will an electrician coming to your home be identifiable as a company employee?
When you’re satisfied with the answers, set up an estimate visit. If it’s a big job, such as an installation or a whole-house rewiring, schedule estimates with three companies.
During and After the Estimate Visit
This visit will be the first time you meet and interact with someone from the electrical company. He or she will be on your property to look at the job that needs to be done and provide you with a written estimate of the job cost.
Pay attention to the details throughout this visit. The first important action is confirming that the estimator is an actual company employee. Is the truck marked clearly with the company name? Is the estimator wearing a company uniform? Does he or she have a company photo ID? Don’t let the person enter your home if you cannot answer yes to those questions.
During the visit, note how the estimator interacts with you. Ask if he or she is the electrician who will come back to perform the work. And if not, who will? If any particulars about the visit impress or unimpress you, remember them.
The estimator may give you a written quote at the end of the visit. However, if the job being quoted is extensive, you may have to wait for 24 hours to get the numbers.
An estimator may pressure you to accept a quote and schedule the work before he or she leaves your home. If you’re not sure you’re ready, don’t commit. Tell them you won’t decide until you have estimates from two more companies. You’re being honest, and the statement may also result in a more competitive bid.
When the Job is Done
When you’ve settled on a company, the real test will be in how the electrician does the job.
After the work is complete, assess the total experience. Was communication with everyone in the company from the phone rep to the electrician satisfactory? If you had any issues, were they resolved easily? Were the estimator and the electrician courteous and professional? Was the work done well? Did the pricing seem reasonable?
How you answer these questions will determine if you decide to use this company again in the future. Hopefully, everything about your interactions and the quality of work done is positive, and you have found your new go-to electrician.