Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions everyone should ask their electrician before starting work:
Not all states, counties or towns regulate or require licenses for electricians, but it's prudent to check first with your local building department. Also ask if electrical work in your city much adhere to standards established by the National Electrical Code.
If a permit is required, the electrician often will make the application for the homeowner. Some municipalities allow homeowners to do minor electrical repairs and installations if they first secure a permit and have the work inspected when complete.
The electrician should do a thorough preliminary inspection and provide you with a firm, accurate estimate of the work involved, along with the cost of fixtures or wiring that will be installed. If additional work is necessary, it can be negotiated and billed separately.
Unless you live in a very old home with antiquated wiring, you probably won't have to replace your existing electrical lines. However, if you require more electrical capacity in certain rooms, new wiring runs and additional outlets are likely to be needed.
The current National Electrical Code recommends a minimum l00-amp incoming electrical service. If you service panel provides less, it should be upgraded to this level or better to meet today's home requirements. Most new homes are wired with 200-amp service.
Ground wiring protects a home and its occupants in case of an electrical fault, such as a short-circuit. But grounding also protects expensive electronic equipment like computers and many appliances. An electrician can quickly check and add grounding capacity if needed.
Solid copper wiring is the material of choice for new homes of renovations. Although 14-gage wire is allowed for many circuits, it's smart to install heavier 12-guage wiring, which costs a little more but can handle more electrical current, making it safer and more energy-efficient.
Every tradesperson or electrician is only as good as his or her reputation. If you have never contracted with the electrician who answered you call, it's fair to ask for the names of other homeowners who have and to give them a call to check the contractor's work.