Hiring for Wiring? 5 Tips for Finding a Trusted Electrician
Hiring for Wiring? 5 Tips for Finding a Trusted Electrician
By MICHAEL FRANCO
When you think of all the things that run on electricity in your house, it becomes clear that having a good electrician is critical to keeping your home functioning properly. But finding a reputable electrician can be a difficult task. Indeed, one of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a homeowner is knowing who you can depend on for vital home maintenance and repair tasks, which for an electricians can range from swapping out light fixtures to upgrading your home's electrical panel.
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Having an electrician you trust lets you feel confident about the work being done. But what should you look for when seeking an electrician?
Here are five helpful tips for finding and hiring and electrician:
1. Check Credentials
Before hiring an electrician for your project, make sure you do your homework. It’s always in your best interest to hire a licensed electrician to perform any electrical work in your home.
In order to receive a license, an electrician must pass a series of tests, and demonstrate a high level of knowledge and competency that ensures the quality of their work. A licensed electrician will also be up-to-date on state and local electrical codes and regulations, and know how to obtain the necessary permits if the need arises.
What’s more, a licensed electrician is required to be insured. Electrical work can be dangerous, and although it’s rare, accidents can still happen. If you hire a licensed electrician though, you can rest easy knowing that any accidents resulting in damage or injury will be covered.
So, how can you find out if an electrician is licensed? The first place to check is your electrician’s website. A reputable electrician or electrical contractor will usually list their licensure status, certifications and other credentials on their website. If you can’t find the information you need there, a master electrician should always be able to provide you with evidence of their licensure, insurance and additional information related to any warranty or guarantee of their work at your request.
Still not sure? Contact your local licensing department. They can verify whether an electrician is licensed or not.
2. Read Customer Reviews
Just because an electrician is licensed doesn’t mean they'll always be the perfect fit for your job. Lucky for you, it’s never been easier to read customer reviews about the professional electrician you’re thinking of hiring.
Usually, a simple Google search will yield several informal, starred customer reviews for any number of electricians in your area. Online customer review platforms like Angie’s List and Yelp can also provide a more comprehensive catalog of customer reviews that should prove helpful in finding a professional electrician. Reading online customer reviews can help answer questions about the quality of an electrician’s work and might even help you save money, as these reviews often include details about how much you should expect to pay for electrical services.
If you want to take it a step further, you can simply ask the professional electrician for a list of references. A reputable electrician should generally be able to provide you with a reference or two for you to contact. References should be able to speak to an electrician’s reliability and professionalism. They might be able to also provide insight into a professional electrician’s experience performing the specific job you’re looking to complete.
3. Consider More Than Just the Hourly Rate
Although there are a number of factors that come into play that affect how much an electrician will charge you, cost is usually calculated using the following criteria:
For larger, more complicated electrical work, spending extra up front for a master electrician might actually help you save money in the long run. A master electrician has been tested extensively, and must display a deep knowledge and comprehension of electrical systems, theory and safety codes. They may charge more per hour, but you can rest easy knowing they'll do the job right, limiting the chances that you’ll have to hire anyone else to go back and fix mistakes. What’s more, a master electrician is more than likely experienced enough to tackle even the most difficult home electrical issues. If you have a problem, chances are they'll know how to fix it.
A licensed electrician will generally charge an hourly rate of $50 to $100, but it depends on a number of additional factors, including the market in which your house is located. Contractors in urban areas generally charge more than those in rural spots. This hourly rate doesn't usually include parts and materials, or any additional travel fees.
When hiring a licensed electrician, it’s important to consider the type of job you need completed. For small home improvement projects, like replacing lighting fixtures or light switches, avoiding large electrical contracting companies will help you save money. In fact, some larger companies won’t even perform these smaller projects. Instead, hiring a journeyman electrician might prove the most cost effective for these smaller-type jobs. Similarly, hiring an independent electrician, or an electrician who will work without the overhead of a large company, will often cost less per hour — a better option for those smaller home-improvement jobs.
4. Prepare Your Space
To avoid any potential delays that could bump up your bill, always remember to clear the area where an electrician will work prior to their arrival. Removing any furniture or large objects from the electrical panel or circuit breakers will allow the electrician to work freely without obstruction. Of course, fragile objects, nearby surface accessories and any items underfoot, such as valuable rugs, should be moved out of the way to avoid accidental damage. Remember, you're paying your electrician by the hour, so you don't want them to waste time moving furniture and other items that you could have taken care of yourself.
Remember to also check the project area for water leaks. Water leaking onto a service panel can cause damage to your home — and potentially a fire. Furthermore, a water leak near your service panel can also lead to electrocution. If you suspect you may have a leak, be sure to let your electrician know prior to their arrival.
5. Bundle Multiple Projects, If Possible
Because electricians often charge travel fees, bundling projects can help you save money and time. If you have multiple projects you need done, go ahead and let your electrician know in your initial consultation.
Preparing a list of projects to address with your electrician is always a smart move. Before speaking with a professional electrician, walk around your house and take note of any broken light switches, faulty outlets or any other electrical work you might need addressed. Many electrical contractors have a limited time allotted for each service call and may not have time to address additional issues on site. The fewer delays an electrician encounters on the job, the more money you’ll save.
Finally, asking your electrician questions about the project is a great way to learn more about the electrical problem and how to fix it, but try to ask them before they start the project. Again, the more delays during the project, the more you can expect to pay.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some common questions that may be helpful in finding and hiring an electrician:
How Much Do Electricians Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, electricians make an average of $52,910 a year. Apprentice electricians (or electricians who are beginning their careers working under a master electrician) make between $10 and $20 an hour. Journeyman electricians (the second major step in an electrician’s career) can make around $30 an hour. Master electricians can make upwards of $35 an hour.
What Are the Qualifications to be an Electrician?
The majority of states require electricians to be licensed, but licensing requirements vary from state to state. In order to be licensed, an electrician must pass an examination that tests their knowledge of the National Electrical Code, as well as state and local building and electrical codes. Electricians also must log several years of experience before they are able to work by themselves and move through the stages of apprentice and journeyman to become a master electrician.
Should You Tip an Electrician?
An electrician is a highly skilled professional earning an hourly wage and, as such, they don’t generally expect a tip. If you’ve been working with an electrical contractor who has gone above and beyond the call of duty and you feel like giving them a bit extra for the job, then how much of a tip to include is completely your decision. In lieu of a tip, electrical contractors might instead prefer you to leave positive reviews on the company’s website or on a popular online review platform such as Yelp or Google.
Finding a reputable electrician can be difficult. This above guidance will make it easier and ensure that your work is done safely, professionally and affordably.
Being prepared with a plan from HomeServe can help you ensure that when something goes wrong with your home's electricity, the entire repair process will be easier for you. Once you have a plan in place and a covered issue arises, you can simply call the 24/7 repair hotline. A local, licensed and highly trained contractor will be sent out to you to get the job done to your satisfaction.