Make Certain the Electrician You Hire is Qualified to do the Job
One hundred years ago, less than one-third of American homes were wired for electricity – and that was most often for a few lights. Today, electricity quietly powers our comfortable lifestyles – we flick switches and get light, heat, refrigeration, music, entertainment and instant connections to the world.
It seems so simple, but in fact, the wiring for today’s electrical loads has become complex – too complex for do-it-yourself electrical work. If you have wiring issues in your home or business, only a licensed electrical contractor is qualified to handle them. The consequences of a faulty job, which can include shocks and fires, are too serious.
At the same time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is reporting a shortage of qualified electricians, making it harder to find a reliable professional when you need one. How can you be sure the person you hire can do the job?
Here are some criteria to consider:
- A license. The contractor must be licensed [with the state (C-10 license)] and the employees must be licensed as a journeyman or apprentice electrician. In California, a license ensures the holder has a high school diploma and coursework in wiring practices, electrical codes and safety measures, has served an apprenticeship under a licensed electrician, and has passed a rigorous state exam to become a journeyman.
- Insurance. The electrical contractor responsible for the job should be fully insured with Liability Insurance and Workman’s Comp. Insurance and offer a warranty for the work performed. Ask for the warranty in writing.
- Recommendations. The experiences of people you trust are invaluable in helping you decide which contractor to choose. Be sure to ask plenty of questions.
- A good rating with the Better Business Bureau. The BBB relies on both consumer input and its own evaluations to grade electricians. Checking with the bureau can ensure your contractor’s license is current, that he or she has no pending legal actions or complaints, and that customers have been satisfied with the quality of work performed.
- Good online reviews. Read postings on sites such as YELP and Angie’s List for others’ experiences. Evaluate these carefully, though – you might rely on patterns but you may not want to be influenced by just one angry rant.
- References. Ask to see letters of recommendation the electrician has received and request contact information for past clients. The contractor should be happy to provide you with both.
- Check for specialties. The field has become so broad you may want to choose a person who is well experienced in the exact type of work you need.
- Follow your gut. You’ll get vibes during a conversation or face-to-face meeting – heed them. Your comfort level can be a reliable barometer.
Thanks to electricity, we enjoy comforts lacking in even the richest homes a century ago. To ensure your wiring is always safe and meets your needs, make sure only qualified, responsible electricians work on your wiring.