Electricity is very much the beating heart and blood of your home. The wires behind your walls deliver power to your various outlets and appliances 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we usually expect them to work all the time.
And precisely because electricity contributes so many essential aspects to our homes, you'll usually want to handle any problems as soon as possible.
Ask the following questions to determine whether an electrician is the right fit for your project:
Are you up to date with the National Electrical Code?
The NEC sets the standard for service in most states. It's updated every three years, though not all states adopt the same version simultaneously.
The NEC establishes safety rules about installations, sets standards such as the need for GFCI outlets in kitchens and bathrooms, and creates a standardized baseline so all electricians are working from the same playbook.
How do you charge?
Most electricians charge an hourly rate. Many have a minimum rate, even if it's just one hour.
You can get more efficiency for your money by bundling multiple small jobs together. However, some electricians charge by the job, so be clear how you will be paying for the work.
Does the job require a permit?
Various cities, counties and states require different permits for different jobs. Smaller jobs rarely require a permit, but larger ones usually do.
If you allow your electrician to work without a required permit, you'll fail an inspection. Skipping needed permits also signals that the electrician does not take their work seriously.
Who will be doing the work?
Some electricians do all the work themselves. Others employ helpers and apprentices. This can help keep costs down. However, verify that a licensed electrician will be supervising any unlicensed assistants.
Generally speaking, electricians hold one of three positions.
An apprentice electrician is in training and must be overseen by an experienced electrician.
A journeyperson electrician has completed their apprenticeship, passed a state exam, received their license and can do any kind of electrical work without supervision.
Master electrician is a title reserved for the most experienced electrician.
Requirements vary by state, but in most cases, a master electrician must have 4,000 hours of work experience as a journeyperson and pass an in-depth examination. In most cases, master electricians oversee a staff of electricians on complex jobs or in a large contracting business.
Are you familiar with my particular problem?
Make sure the electrician has experience with the issues you're working on. Different problems pose different challenges.
Are you licensed, bonded, and insured?
These are always good questions but are particularly vital when hiring an electrician. Electrical work is dangerous and usually governed by code. Licensing provides a critical layer of protection when hiring.
What kind of warranty do you offer?
A high-quality electrician will always stand behind their work and offer a warranty in writing. Ensure you get a written warranty for both the labor and parts.
Tweet your home care questions with #AskingAngi and we'll try to answer them in a future column.