Wow has it been hot out these last few weeks! Summer FINALLY showed up in the Pacific Northwest, bringing with it long stretches of record high heats! Break out the portable air conditioners, pools, and fans! Usually this time of the year brings in several calls from our customers that their portable air conditioner unit (or units…many are running multiple units in different locations of their homes) are tripping their circuit breakers and they want to know WHY is this happening?! Well, most of the time, they are plugging their unit into a 15A lighting circuit and those circuits are typically not designed to carry a constant load of that extreme, which causes an overload. They are your general lighting and outlet circuits, which you are no doubt using in addition to the air conditioner(s). Sometimes your air conditioner will work fine for a while and not trip the breaker at all, other times it will trip immediately. How do you avoid this? A dedicated circuit should be installed for EACH portable air conditioner that you are running, which will prevent the lighting circuits from becoming over loaded. Remember that Washington State requires that this installation be done only by a licensed electrical contractor or by the home owner of the property and that an electrical permit be obtained through the jurisdiction having authority. Please call us if you would like more information about installing a dedicated circuit or circuits for your home! Beat the Heat and Stay Cool!
As mentioned in our blog 5 Tips to Avoid An Unlicensed Electrician Busting Your Budget, the ONLY way to ensure that your electrical installation is installed to the requirements of the National Electrical Code (NEC) is that a permit be taken out by the electrical contractor and the work performed by your electrician has been inspected by the authority having jurisdiction. There are actually very few exceptions when an electrical permit is not required.
It is imperative for your safety and protection that any electrical alteration is inspected by either the City or State having authority. As per Washington State law, the only two people who can obtain an electrical permit for the property and complete the installation is the homeowner or a licensed electrical contractor.
That’s it. So if side job Sam is working under the table and doesn’t get an electrical permit, chances are he is not a licensed electrical contractor. A couple of questions that you might ask are:
- Do ALL electrical contractors need to get a permit to complete my installation? If your installation requires an electrical permit, then the answer is, yes. Absolutely. It is the law and most reputable contractors will do things above board, with a permit. Be wary of those who do not. Not only are you at risk for property damages or loss but your life could be in danger. Electricity isn’t a joke nor should it be taken lightly.
- How do I know if an electrical contractor has taken out a permit on my job? Simple. It should be posted onsite on your service panel. If you don’t see one, you can check public records online or by placing a phone call. Do not just take the electrician’s word for it, do your research!
If you haven’t hired an electrician for your project yet another good indicator to see if they are legit is to look them up with Washington State Dept of Labor and Industries. Do they have a history of taking out permits for their work or is there just a few here or there? And of the permits that they have purchased, how many have been approved and completed? If each and every permit you look at has multiple corrections attached to it, you might want to rethink your choice in contractor.
Another time we run into electrical installations that are completed without the proper permits is when you are purchasing or selling your home. If permits haven’t been taken out for work completed, this could hinder or impede your sale or purchase. If you are the buyer of a home and the Home Inspector reports that electrical issues need to be addressed, YOU have every right to be sure that the work is completed by a licensed electrical contractor and properly inspected by the authority having jurisdiction. Many times in our current market, houses have been bought and flipped in a rather short turn around with the intention of the seller making a few bucks. He may not want to draw attention to work or repairs that he did himself so may try to hire an electrician who won’t take out an electrical permit to complete Home Inspection Repairs. In this case, YOU as the buyer of the home, must do due diligence and make sure that the proper permits are taken out. Don’t just take the seller’s word for it. Do your research!
If you have had electrical work done without a permit and would like help getting it passed through the inspection process, contact us for more information!
If you are getting ready to remodel or purchase a home, it may be tempting to choose the cheapest contractors. Who doesn’t like to save a few bucks, right?
But the cheapest isn’t always the least expensive.
There is a surge in unlicensed electricians flooding the market right now; the result is unsafe electrical work which ends up costing much more to repair.
Here are 5 ways to avoid getting taken to the cleaners when choosing an electrician for your upcoming home remodel or sale:
1. Do your Research
With the age of the internet and Google, the possibilities for research are endless these days! Take advantage of them! When you purchase a new car, find a new hair salon, or even a new place to eat, you let your fingers do the walking, or typing rather, and hit up all of the top online referral sites. Do the same when looking for a construction professional. This day and age, with the economy as it is, there are many out of work electricians fueling the underground economy in the electrical industry. Most of them are not licensed to do so! Do you want these same, self-proclaimed “professionals” wiring your new hot tub (because trust me, water and electricity DO NOT mix!), or coming into your home with no personal guarantee of safety? Make sure the professional you hired is licensed and bonded to do business in the state that you live in!
Referrals are huge in any industry; when someone is pleased with a product or service they have received, the BEST COMPLIMENT that they can give is a referral. Listen to your friends, neighbors, family members, and co-workers, because if you ask them I am sure that they would love to tell you all about the fantastic experience that they received with XYZ-company.
3. Use Your Own Judgement
When it comes down to it, you need to be comfortable with the person you are bringing onto your team. That means you need to trust them and trust that they are giving you the best possible product/service for your money. Conduct an interview of sorts with them, over the phone or when you meet them on your site. Does the contractor seem professional? Do they answer all of your questions knowledgeably, or are they just spewing fluff to make a sale? While you may not know the proper electrical terms, you can make a list of questions that you would like answered. Does your electrician make you feel confident in choosing him, offers different options for your project, and advises you of potential code requirements take into consideration? Has their electrical contracting company been in business for several years, even decades, or are they a new start up company? Take a few minutes getting to know them and find out what they represent.
4. Written Document
Is your contractor prepared to provide you with a written document? Whether it be a work order for a simple Time and Materials job, or a detailed contract for a larger project with a specified bid price, make sure your electrician is providing you with a piece of paperwork with a detailed scope of work to be performed, contract price or hourly rate, and terms of payment. If this seems like too much to ask, you might want to rethink your choice of contractors. Most reputable electrical contracting companies will provide you with a written document.
The ONLY way to ensure that your electrical installation is installed to the requirements of the National Electrical Code (NEC) is that a permit be taken out by the electrical contractor and the work performed by your electrician has been inspected by the authority having jurisdiction. There are actually very few exceptions when an electrical permit is not required.
I hope this gives you some help when choosing an electrician for an upcoming home purchase or help with a large DIY project. Remember, choosing the cheapest contractor may be setting yourself up for a larger expense down the road or even an unsafe home for your family. If you have any questions on this, or have had work performed by an individual that you think may not have the proper licensing or permitting, feel free to contact us!