contrator, handyman, or do it yourself when it come to electrical work.

6 Replies

First if its your property do what ever the law will allow you to do without a contractors license.
With that being said I am a contractor an electrical contractor to be exact. For those that don't know the majority of electrical fires, injuries, and death are caused people thinking they can do electrical work, they play electrician. this is to include homeowners , handymen, and contractors. Most states you need to go to school for five years to be an journeyman electrician.
I understand why we all try to do work that needs to be done without a contractor. Because that are a lot of ****** contractors out here. I not immune to them either. I have worked for them and hired them for stuff I needed done. There is no easy way to find a good one. in California you can go to contractors state board to check a license.

@Stephen Joyner

When we are undertaking a major retrofit, I always produce an electrical diagram (floor plan showing all fixtures, receptacles, switches, circuits) and review it with the electrician either before we start or during demo.   This gives lots of time to move things based upon his/her feedback before any wires are run.

We pull all the (new, replacement) wiring, mount all the boxes, etc. with our own folks and call the electrician back when we are ready to hook things into the panel and/or before we start to drywall (if we are using closed cell foam insulation, we'll have the electrician come through before the insulation is sprayed).   This saves us money and our electrician prefers having some young fellow crawl through the attic pulling wires than himself.

Having done electrical for a living for about 6 six years I do my own when I can. Electricians are expensive. But, I know what the heck I'm doing. I also know what it looks like when someone who doesn't know what they're doing tries to play electrician. Most problems they create are not going to start a fire or electrocute anyone, but really, why take the chance?

I recommend to my rehabber friends to bite the bullet and get a licensed, trustworthy electrician to do ALL electrical work. It's just not worth the risk to shave a few bucks off the rehab. 

Besides, I once spent four hours tracing and open neutral in a fairly new house in Rancho Cucamonga just because the developer "cheaped out" and hired someone who didn't know how to correctly splice wires. Very expensive and dangerous. The splice worked for several years until it got so hot that it melted the wiring. This one could have caused a fire.

Done wrong electrical is dangerous. This is why electricians are worth every penny. It's not worth the risk. Hire a professional.

That's all I have to say about that.

This is the completed version of the post that my 2 year old help me post earlier.

  First if its your property do what ever the law will allow you to do without a contractors license.
  With that being said I am a contractor an electrical contractor to be exact. For those that don't know the majority of electrical fires, injuries, and death are caused people thinking they can do electrical work, they play electrician. this is to include homeowners, handymen, and contractors. Most states you need to go to school for five years and have work experience to become a journeyman electrician.
   I understand why we all try to do work that needs to be done without a contractor. Because that are a lot of ****ty contractors out here. I not immune to them either. I have worked for them and hired them for stuff I have needed done. There is no easy way to find a good one.

  In California you can go to contractors state board to check a license.  Even call their reference's this is no guaranty either. There are a lot of reason why some contractor go bad. There could be money, family, life, and/or drug issues that come into play or any combination of them. There still some that go and get a contractor license that just think they can know enough to be a contractor.

  So when should I hire an electrical contractor? Every time... unless you have been properly trained to work on and identify electrical issues. Just because you can change out Fixture, device, or breaker does not mean you know what you are doing. I mean if the device or breaker fails and you replace it did you find what caused it to fail. Was it age or was it a breakdown in the system? with out knowing how to spot or test for these problems in your system you will not know that answer. Which will lead to bigger problems later down the line. Even knowing how to do this does not mean you will have the answer. There are many things that can go wrong and your tenant is not going to tell you that exactly what they did or if they did anything to cause a problem. Such as overload the circuit or plug in a device that was faulty into the outlet that caused the issue. Many times I have gone on a service call where the home owner says they where doing nothing the breaker just tripped. After testing everything I have found where someone tried to add a device or changed a device and have done something wrong. They either wired it incorrectly or over tightened the screws on the device. Maybe they put to many wires in the wire nut or did not properly secure the wire with the wire nut. these are just a few things that could go wrong.

 Here are few things that you need to know about electrical. Aluminum wiring, It is safe as long as you know how to and what devices that need to be used when dealing with it. Some of the issues with this wire. When electricity flow down the wire under demand it heats up and expands, then when the demand it no longer needed in cools and contracts. when the improper device use or if someone puts copper wiring with it under a wire nut. Over time the expanding and contracting of the aluminum will be come lose. Lose wires cause fires. Also oxidation happens to this wire and it build faster when the wire become or are lose. This also happens with improper installation. Today we only use aluminum as feeders for panels. We also use a product called "NOALOX" or "NO-OX" these products are used to help with the oxidation of the wire and in turn help with it from not breaking down over time.

  Did you know that Zinsco/Sylvania electrical panel, and Federal Pacific electrical panels are all a fire hazard. There is a lot information on this on the internet. Just Google, Bing, or any other search engine you would like to use.

  Arc fault or AFCI / GFI or GFCI. An arc fault is an unintended arc created by current flowing of electricity through an unplanned path. The temperatures of these arcs can exceed 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Arc fault are intended to mitigate the effects of arcing by functioning to de-energizing the circuit when an arc is detected. The  NEC 210.12 establishes the requirements for arc faults. 

 A gfi will “sense” the difference in the amount of electricity flowing into the circuit to what is flowing out, even current as small as 4 or 5 milliamps. The gfi reacts quickly (less than one-tenth of a second) to trip or shut off the flow of electricity. Gfi Should be installed any where it may come it to contact with water. Gfi's should be tested every month but not more then every six months for proper operation.

 There are some major differences between the functioning of an arc fault as compared to a gfi The function of the gfi is to protect people from the deadly effects of electric shock that could occur if parts of an electrical appliance or tool become energized due to a ground fault. The function of the arc fault is to protect the branch circuit wiring from dangerous arcing faults that could initiate an electrical fire.

 So now that I have given a little knowledge into electrical. When should you hire a contractor or do it yourself. Any time you fell that the risk is okay for you to take on. Reputable contractors will have insurance if something should goes wrong. I feel acceptable risk would be changing a light fixture of replacing a device to update a look. anything else you should hire a qualified person do the work for you. In many cases if you do not hire a licensed contractor to do the work and some thing would go wrong your insurance may not cover the repairs.

 

Originally posted by @Tom Mole :

I recommend to my rehabber friends to bite the bullet and get a licensed, trustworthy electrician to do ALL electrical work. It's just not worth the risk to shave a few bucks off the rehab. 

Besides, I once spent four hours tracing and open neutral in a fairly new house in Rancho Cucamonga just because the developer "cheaped out" and hired someone who didn't know how to correctly splice wires. Very expensive and dangerous. The splice worked for several years until it got so hot that it melted the wiring. This one could have caused a fire.

 Tom: 

Not sure if that is a general statement, or in response to my post.   Even though we do the grunt work ourselves - pulling the wires (roping them from box to box, no splicing), mounting the boxes, etc.  It's all done under the guidance and supervision of our electrician - who approved the plan and performs all the connections.  It's no different than when the electrician shows up with his/her own labourer to send through the attic pulling wires behind them.

Ironically, I know a fair amount about electricity and understand quite well how it works; though my professional experience is at a much smaller scale which you may carry in your pocket, wear on your wrist, use to access the Internet or which control large power generation systems.

Hi @Roy N.

My post was in no way an indictment on yours. Just unfortunate luck that one followed the other like that. In fact your follow up post clarified something really important. Originally, it sounded to me like what you meant was that you'd let someone without training do everything but throw the breakers based on a blueprint. Now I understand that electrician is comes back to vet the job, build the splices, install devices and then energize. That's extremely reasonable.

Electricians don't need to drill holes or pull rope. Any worker can learn to do that with reasonable safety. That being said, as you know there are circumstances that unskilled don't even think about or don't consider important, like routing wire outside a conduit or routing cable into a conduit (both are wrong and most folks don't realize that it's a problem). There's still a bunch of nit-picky, yet important stuff to know. That's why your electrician is so expensive.

I was a little concerned that someone reading your first post would think that you treated your electrical installation casually and thus so could they do so. If they read your second post, they'll understand that you treat this topic very seriously and so should they.

There are no good excuses for shortcuts in electrical. It's just not worth the risk. However, there's no reason that the time consuming, manual labor needs to be done by an expensive electrician either as long as that skilled technician is supervising the work carefully. 

thanks guys for reading and commenting on my post. It was the first one I have written and was trying it out to see what kind of response I would get. I hope to write more on the subject of electrical in the future. I do believe that there are people who are Laxed when it come to electrical. Because of lack of knowledge or someone showing them wrong way. Again thanks for reading my post. 

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