We spoke to an electrician to get the scoop on everything electrical.
From the wiring in your walls to the lighting fixtures overhead, electricity is an important part of your home. Knowing how to properly work with electricity when doing repairs or home improvements is critical, since faulty wiring can cause serious damage or injury. We spoke with Craig Bryant of Bryant Electric, based in Austin, Texas. Bryant is a licensed, master electrician with more than 20 years of experience in the field.
"The most common mistakes homeowners make when doing their own electrical remodel/repairs are not knowing the code requirements for safety issues in general," shares Bryant. Licensed electricians are up to date on codes and requirements for your specific area.
"Multiple times I've seen homeowners tie into an existing circuit that is intended to be completely isolated onto its own separate circuit, such as a bath plug, refrigerator or kitchen counter plug." Just because you can see the existing circuit doesn't mean you should add on.
"Another issue is installing too many plugs and switches onto a single circuit during a remodel. Just because there are three bedrooms and one bath does not mean it's a good idea to put everything onto only one circuit," says Bryant.
Often homeowners will try to save money by doing electrical work themselves — but eventually wind up calling a professional to fix their mistakes. "The cost for these repairs isn't any different than what the initial cost would have been for an electrical contractor to do in the first place, which is why the homeowner decided to do it him/herself to begin with," Bryant shares.
"There are other ways homeowners can save money on a remodeling project other than trying to do skilled labor jobs. If you mess up a painting job or Sheetrock install, it just looks bad," says Bryant. "If you mess up an electrical installation, it could result in a fire or someone being injured due to shock."
Licensed, professional electricians have years of training and experience to offer. "Homeowners need to know that there is a very good reason it takes four years of apprenticeship training — both classroom and on the job — to even begin at an entry level job as an electrician," says Bryant.
"Although many things are simple in the electrical trade, there are many, many code and safety items that need to be learned, that can't be done by reading an online blog for half an hour," says Bryant. "In general, I would say it is mostly unsafe for homeowners to attempt any large electrical remodel." Always put the safety of yourself — and your home — first.
If you are planning a remodel or need a repair, make sure that the electrician you're hiring does this type of work. Bryant shares that some electricians specialize in new construction only and may not be the best to hire for a repair job.
Word of mouth from friends and acquaintances who have used a licensed electrician is the best. If you don't know someone who has a recommendation, consider legitimate referrals from reputable sources, like Angie's List, Customer Lobby, Google and Yelp. Find out how many years the electrician has been in business in your area.
A referral may recommend a specific electrician, but if you are cold-calling an electrician without having been referred, how can you tell if he is reputable? Bryant says to ask for references, which any licensed electrician should be willing to give. A good reference is someone who has had work done similar to what you are hiring for and is willing to answer questions about the quality of the work performed, whether jobs were completed in a timely manner and if they would hire this person again.
By finding the right person for your electrical job, you can save yourself a lot of headaches in the end.
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