Whether started by a faulty outlet or a forgotten skillet, cooking accounts for more home fires than any other single cause. Electricians cannot help with the cooking or watch the stove, but they can ensure that GFCI outlets are properly installed and functioning safely. Now required by most municipal codes, GFCI outlets in kitchens and bathrooms are critical to home safety.
AFCI circuit breakers may be advisable in older homes; these interrupt unseen arcs of electricity between degraded wires. Aluminum wiring is dangerous everywhere it exists, which is in most houses built between 1965 and ’75. Again, most municipalities require some type of electrical remedy, but homeowners often and regrettably wait until they want to sell it to protect the home.
Besides Watching the Skillet
Light bulbs that have a higher wattage than is recommended are definitely not bright ideas. They compromise not only the fixture but also the wiring around it, simply putting too much load on everything and degrading it all faster. For similar reasons, bringing new major appliances into the home should mean bringing an electrician in with them.
Nearly 50,000 reported house fires in 2010 were attributable to an electrical problem, be it a malfunction or a complete failure. Many more small electrical fires are put out by single-use fire extinguishers that belong in every home. It is great that they saved the home, but the electrician has to come out anyway to repair the damage done.
So much grief can be spared with a thorough inspection of the home’s electrical systems once a year. For the price of a service call, you can regularly put trained eyes on your outlets, wired connections, and circuit breakers. Ensuring the safety of your family from electrical shock and your home from the spark that starts a fire, regular electrical inspections are invaluable.
Your safety is the reason there are so many different codes and so much ‘nit-picking’ municipal regulation of electrical systems. We appreciate both their concern for public safety and the frustration it can cause for homeowners, both of which we share! For homeowners, codes take to a whole new level the importance of a supervisory body that holds electricians to standards.
It is definitely not easy for even licensed electricians to stay on top of all the different changes in all the different codes. It is, however, their profession, and unless they do it, they fail to qualify for re-certification. Since it took so long to be licensed in the first place, they definitely do not put all that in jeopardy, either. Instead, they absorb the continuing education.
Code Compliance Matters
Generally, despite how it sometimes feels, municipal codes do not change just because someone enjoys rewriting them or is “staying busy” to justify their employment. They change, we admit, because more is understood every day, as lessons are drawn from past mistakes. They change – it is true – with materials and technologies and close examinations of data related to house fires and insurance claims for property liability.
Codes frustrate absolutely all of us – homeowners trying to sell and electricians trying to service – but they are, truthfully, for your safety and ours. We have to replace GFCIs with AFCIs not because someone decided they should start with “A” but because electrical arcs are better understood. That understanding is what we bring as electricians to ‘code compliance matters’, but it is no surprise that most homeowners do not share it.
Unfortunately, not all licensed electricians share it either. Homeowners need to select an electrician from a pool of certified licensed candidates. That way, you can be sure it is really safe for everyone – along with the garage, the laundry room, bath, and kitchen. Codes have a purpose and while some homeowners may think they are inconvenient, they are there for all of our safety.
Most homeowners would not consider installing their own indoor electrical systems, recognizing the importance of having a professional handle the task. Yet, strangely, many homeowners attempt to install outdoor lighting themselves, as if electricity weren’t involved. While that may be the case for low budget, low performance, solar powered decorative lamps, it is not so for a comprehensive outdoor lighting system.
Gaining in popularity, outdoor lighting is becoming a feature sought by homeowners and prospective home buyers alike. Extending the usefulness of decks and yards well into the evening, pretty outdoor lights beautify the home’s exterior and make garden parties possible after dark. Outdoor lighting, however, not only adds charm to the home and illuminates attractive landscaping, but also significantly improves home security.
Indeed, enhanced security is one of the primary benefits of outdoor lighting, sharply reducing the likelihood that a home will be burglarized. Lighting at windows and doors as well as the illumination of potential hiding spots behind bushes and hedges discourages would-be intruders. This practical reason for having a licensed electrician install an outdoor lighting system allows homeowners to indulge their simple desire for the beauty it brings.
It is important to involve a professional electrician in the installation of any outdoor lighting system for several reasons. Cables need to be buried, not only because they are unsightly but because if they can be seen, they can be cut by intruders. Transformers have to be appropriate to the total wattage provided, and distances to fixtures have to be properly calculated. Timers and photosensitive cells that activate lights with darkness have to be properly wired, as do motion activated security lights.
Nonetheless, the safety and security it adds to the home is well worth it, especially given the beauty it brings to decks and yards. Well-lit paths and steps reduce the chances for slips and falls, both by family members and strangers. With so many benefits, the popularity of outdoor lighting is easy to understand, even if trying to do it yourself makes no sense at all.
Most of us have felt a mild electrical shock at some point in our lives. Whether from faulty wiring of a lamp or the childlike inexperience that leads us to pry stuck toast loose with a knife, we have been shocked. Those extremely mild jolts of electricity are enough to underscore the importance of safety precautions being taken by electricians.
Working with electricity every day, professional electricians need to be extremely conscious of potential dangers and take appropriate precautions. The condition of the workplace and an electrician’s tools are of paramount concern, along with proper footwear and rubber grips on tools. Proper safety precautions can be the difference between life and death for electricians, so their value can hardly be overstated.
Keeping Tools in Good Condition Safeguards Electricians
First of all, an electrician needs to keep their tools in excellent condition, in order to avoid accidents that can happen if they malfunction. As subject to wear and tear as any equipment, electrical cords can fray, wires can pull loose, and cutting edges can dull. Careful inspection and maintenance of tools and equipment goes a long way to protecting electricians.
Secondly, because of the importance of their condition, an electrician’s tools should be kept locked up. Whether because one is fascinating or because it comes in handy for something the homeowner or a co-worker is doing, tools left out get used. The only way an electrician can be confident of the condition of his tools is to lock them up when they’re not using them.
A Clean Workplace Is a Safer Workplace
Finally, it is important for the work area to be orderly and clear of things that can constitute hazards. A walk-around to look for cabling, tools, and wires left on the floor is a good safety precaution both before and after a job. Not only do homeowners appreciate the cleanup because it improves the appearance of the house, but their safety is also protected.
Anyone who contracts to do electrical work in Tennessee needs a license, which involves passing two exams, one on business law and another trade-specific exam. They also have to create a business entity and secure reasonable liability insurance, something that every homeowner will ask about when choosing an electrician. Detailed financial information regarding working capital has to be provided to the licensing board and tax identification numbers have to be obtained.
Apprenticeships and Examination
The difficulty of licensing requirements is intended to protect both electricians and homeowners, and the exams involved present significant hurdles. Generally, they cannot be passed by someone without on-the-job training, so a degree of experience is typically confirmed by these exams. Compelling many into apprenticeships, these exams test not only for familiarity with local regulations and code requirements but for electrician-specific knowledge.
Tennessee Licenses for Electricians Vary With Project Totals
The State of Tennessee issues two types of electrician’s licenses, varying with the total amount of the project to be undertaken. Electrical projects that exceed $25,000 require a CE-classified Contractor’s License which is accepted throughout the state without further examination. That does not mean electricians can avoid familiarizing themselves with municipal and country restrictions and codes. They still need local licenses and permits, but the CE-classification allows electricians to obtain them.
The second possibility is to be licensed as a Limited Licensed Electrician, which permits electricians to work on projects that total less than $25,000. Insufficient by itself in some municipalities, it is important for electricians to check on local licensing requirements to determine if a local license is required. Typically, it hinges on whether or not there is a local licensing agency that provides inspections.
In all cases where a local agency exists to determine adherence to code, a local license is required, regardless of the amount of the project. CE-licensed electricians will not need to take local exams, but codes vary with municipalities and there are fees to pay. It is also possible that electricians will need a local business tax license or a federal business identification number for tax purposes.
Installing a ceiling fan often seems like a simple do it yourself project. After all, how hard can it be to hook up a fan, right? Unfortunately, they are not quite as easy as one would think and because they can require electrical installations and/or adjustments, it is best to call on a certified electrician for its installation.
First, let’s look at some of the tools and supplies needed for this job. If you don’t have them, you are going to have to go out and buy them. Some of these supplies and tools are not cheap and if you are not going to use them again, why spend the money?
- Claw hammer
- Cable ripper
- Bonding screws
- Electrical boxes
- Switch covers
- Compass saw
- Stud locator
If these items are not in your toolbox already or you simply do not know for what they are used, this job may be just a bit too much to undertake at this time.
While having to purchase new tools and supplies is one reason to let a professional handle this job, the fact that you would be working with live electricity is the most important reason to call a licensed electrician. There is definitely the need to tap into existing wiring and if the current load is at its limit, you may need to add additional breakers to the current breaker box. Is this something you are prepared to do?
Tasks such as this that seem simple are often when do it yourselfers do the most damage to their homes. This is especially true when electricity becomes involved. Older homes may not be up to code, but it is unlikely the average DIYer will know the difference. If there is ever one area of the home where you are best served to use a licenses professional, it is when dealing with electricity.
You need some basic electrical work done for your business and one of your workers knows “someone” that does this type of work. Best of all, they are very cheap and out of work, so they can get it done right away. This often sounds like a great idea to business owners, but they often get exactly what they are paying for and end up with a complete mess on their hands.
Budgets can be very tight these days and when unexpected repairs pop up, such as commercial electrical work, there simply is not enough room in the budget for major repairs. So, business owners will often look for a local handyman or a friend of a friend that can do the job on the cheap and save them some money.
However, in many cases, instead of saving money, they often end up with bad electrical work and more damage than when they started. First and foremost, the value of a qualified commercial contractor is in making sure the job is done right the first time around! It may seem like more money now, but those few extra dollars spent will definitely save money and aggravation in the future.
Simply put, experience is everything when it comes to this type of work. The “Average Joe” is not going to have the expertise to work with commercial wiring. Most electricians have served for years as an apprentice as well as having worked with another electrician before they are out on their own. They not only benefit from the supervised time, but also have the benefit of the years of experience from their mentor.
When hiring a commercial electrician, check for licensing and insurance. In addition, ask for an estimate so you have a rough idea as to how much the job will cost. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, that estimate should be very close the actual price charged. A qualified electrician will be able to provide all of this to you as well as professional and quality workmanship.
Project management is both a science and an art. Planning, organizing, and securing and managing resources all fall under the umbrella of project management. When each area is executed properly, a project is considered successful. Though project management is beneficial for projects of any scale, it is particularly useful for large-scale projects, especially those focusing on electrical systems.
Large projects tend to be more complex than smaller ones, and the organization of resources delivered by project management helps these undertakings run more smoothly. The nature of electrical projects implies a particular level of complexity and large-scale electrical projects can be extremely involved. With project management, leaders obtain the necessary human and material resources and plan project implementation to deliver a successful result.
Project management strives to meet the specified performance on schedule and within budget. Businesses remain competitive when they complete projects on time and without overspending. Managers must analyze information and make decisions without slowing down the project timeline with over-evaluation. Project management skills help them stay on track so the competition does not gain an edge.
Electrical contractors perform wiring installations in buildings and with large projects, they are typically licensed. Installations involve reviewing building plans, designing wiring, presenting this design to clients, and incorporating client feedback into the final design. Costs of materials and labor are determined, a delivery date is estimated, and a timeline featuring task breakdown is developed from that.
Electrical projects involve several major tasks including piping, box positioning, wiring, installing fittings, testing, and commissioning. For large projects, each of these can be streamlined through a project management framework that allocates supplies, time, and workers. Progress is monitored against established targets and action is taken when deviations arise. Managing delivery of project outputs to achieve success becomes easier when a project management approach is used.
Many tools that electricians carry, or at least have in their trucks, are common household tools that most homeowners own. Phillips and flat-head screwdrivers of various sizes, a hammer, and pliers are as necessary to electricians as they are to the average homeowner. A retractable tape measure and a number two pencil are other common items that are as useful for the pros as they are for average Joes.
What are not as likely to be found in the tool drawer of homeowners are the tools produced specifically for electricians. These can be thought of in two main groups of equipment, tools and replacement parts. The better equipped your electrician, the more likely it is that they have broad experience, and are well prepared to handle every situation.
On any electrician’s list of essential equipment are:
- Either a volt-ohm meter or a multi-meter
- A multi-purpose tool
- A battery powered screwdriver to quickly remove and insert screws without electricity
- A soldering pencil
- Jumper wire
- Fish tape
- Replacement fuses
Recognizing an Electrician by Their Tools
If someone shows up without a Volt-Ohm Meter, chances are good that it is not your electrician. Needed to check electrical current, it is used to find faulty fuses and outlets and determine the cause of problems with appliances. Multi-Meters combine an ammeter with a voltage meter and an ohm meter, but they read only within a specific range.
An electrician’s multi-purpose tool is another specialized item, combining an array of other tools in what at first glance looks like a pair of pliers. Wire cutters, insulation strippers, bolt shearers, wire loopers, all of them are cleverly built into a single tool. Replacing separate tools for crimping, cutting, and even measuring wire diameter, these multi-purpose tools promise to shrink the size of tool belts.
If you find yourself in need of an electrician in the Middle Tennessee area, give us a call, and we will come out to fix your problem!
Appliances and equipment that were traditionally very expensive have become relatively affordable, enabling more people to add central air conditioning, humidification systems, backup generators, and other equipment to their homes. Though the tendency is usually to get the system installed and running immediately, this can be a mistake. If electrical service capacity is not assessed before plugging in new equipment, irreversible damage may occur.
Electrical capacity is measured in amps and though determining it is not difficult, the process is dangerous. Visual inspection typically provides the answer, but this should be performed carefully. Service entry cables, the electric meter and meter base, main switch, and electrical service panel may need to be inspected and live electricity runs through these areas.
The question of how much electrical service is provided is answered by ampacity and voltage. In the United States, service voltage at the electrical panel is commonly 240 volts. This system will support both 120 and 240-volt circuits. Inspection begins at the electric masthead, where two 120-volt hot wires entering the structure provide both 120 and 240 volts. If electrical service was installed in the building before 1940, only 120 volts and 30 amps may be supported, though this is becoming obsolete.
Electrical capacity provided by a service entrance conductor is determined by identifying wire size. However, the main breaker and the panel size may establish a lower limit. Be aware that it is dangerous to inspect or touch an electrical component due to shock risk or death by electrocution. Before inspecting electrical equipment, learn safe electrical practices.
If available electrical capacity is sufficient to support the voltage of the equipment, plug the item into an electrical outlet. Look for indications of electrical circuit overload such as flickering lights or shutdown of power. If this occurs, turn off electrical supply at the circuit breaker box, unplug the equipment, and contact an electrician.