Monday, September 6, 2010
With all of the home renovations that people do yearly (especially thanks to a certain tax break that was introduced in the United States of America) one thing that most home owners do not want to tackle is electrical issues - and for good reason! Electricity is all around us; it powers our homes, our computers, even our water heaters to bring us hot showers and baths. But we all know just how lethal this force can be if mishandled. That is why, when undergoing any sort of renovation project that requires a change in electrical wiring, an electrical contractor should be contacted.
If you are in doubt as to whether you actually NEED a new panel box, here are some things to consider:
- Have you added another room or more space to your home? Your panel box needs to be checked.
- Are your major appliances malfunctioning, though there is nothing actually wrong with the appliance itself?
- Do you have to continually reset the breakers on your panel box?
- Do you still have old fashioned fuses?
- Was your home constructed more than 20 years ago?
- Are any other major renovations happening to the home that may affect your electricity (i.e. having a heated pool installed)?
Once you contact an electrical contractor, one of the first things that he or she will do is check out your electrical panel and see if it needs an upgrade. An upgrade is needed if the panel will not be able to handle the excess of energy that will be required to power and/or heat that other room.
So let us back this up for a moment. Just how do you find a good, dependable electrician? First, you want to be sure that they are certified and licensed to be providing electrical services in your area. You will want to ensure that they have the right kind of training, as well as years of experience under their belt, before they touch your home. They should be insured against any sort of damages and injuries, be a member of the electricians union and/or a professional guild, and they should have good professional references.
Once you have that cleared up and some of the electricians you found scratched off of your list, it's now time to move on to some other standard questions, such as:
- How much do you charge per hour?
- Do you provide written estimates?
- Do you provide a written guarantee on your work?
- How long do you estimate this project will take to finish?
Many home owners cringe when they hear the hourly rates for an electrician, but again, think of doing it yourself. You have no idea what you are doing, and if you neglect to take care of any faulty wiring or a panel box that is not performing correctly, you are putting yourself and your family in great danger. Either someone will become electrocuted, or a fire will spark. Your appliances can easily be damaged beyond repair because of an improper amount of voltage being carried throughout the home. Imagine replacing all of your appliances, or imagine someone losing their life. Now doesn't hiring an electrical contractor seem worth it?
Do you live in an area where power outages are a part of life? Perhaps you live in a windy area where trees are continually taking out the power lines; or maybe in the winter, the weather is so horrible that it takes the power out (you certainly wouldn't want to be left in the cold, would you?). Or for anyone living in a high tornado area should also consider hiring a generator installer.
You have probably walked through some stores and seen those small, more portable generators, but consider their drawbacks: though affordable, they do not provide a lot of power and the power they do provide does not last for a substantial amount of time. You also need to continually check it to be sure that it does not run out of gasoline. Perhaps most importantly, these small units build up carbon monoxide, which is why you must place the unit outside of your home and a good distance from your windows (you certainly would not want carbon monoxide poisoning!).
If you are new to this whole "generator" thing, fear not! There are plenty of installers in your area who you can call for some tips and advice. You can ask family, friends, neighbors and hardware stores for names of generator installers in the area, or do a quick Internet search and check your phone book for names.
Once you have at least five names, it's time to start calling! What you want to check for is:
- Do they have a valid license and certification in your area?
- Do they hold a membership to any relevant guilds in your area?
- Do they have liability insurance?
- Do they hire employees to assist with the job? If so, how many would be required for the job?
- Do they offer free written estimates?
- Do they offer any sort of warranty or guarantee of their workmanship?
- Do they do a thorough check of all of the lines and wiring of the generator before they take off?
- Can they be called for assistance later on?
I particularly like for the last question to be answered as "yes" since generators are a fairly complex and potentially dangerous unit. There are gas line hookups which, when disturbed, can put you and your family in danger. There are also electrical wiring that, should it malfunction, puts you and your home in jeopardy.
Because of these issues as well as just the very weight of the generator, unless you are 100% sure of what you are doing, do call a generator installer to do the job. You will be glad you did.