If you are a “do it yourselfer” your tendency is to try to fix something yourself before calling a professional. However, when it comes to rewiring or repairing electrical matters, you really need to ask yourself if the risk is worth the cost of hiring a licensed electrician.

Licensed electricians undergo extensive training in order to receive their electrical license. Untrained individuals aren’t familiar with the intricacies of electrical work and may not uphold the same safety standards as someone who has undergone a high level of training.

Improper electrical work can result in premature appliance failure, can cause an appliance or lighting fixture to short, and can create more extensive repairs in the future. A task as simple as properly tightening an electrical termination, if done wrong, can lead to a house fire.

There are many videos and tutorials to provide homeowners instruction for every electrical repair solution, from electrical outlet replacement to ceiling fan installation, to major projects like wiring a new electrical sub panel. However, when it comes to electrical work, you need a certified professional who can safely make the repair or provide the installation, to protect your home and your family.

Instances that require an electrician include:

  • your circuit breakers seem to be tripping frequently

  • your home inspection or insurance audit failed because you have an outdated circuit breaker panel

  • you notice switches or electrical circuits feel warm to the touch

  • you have older electrical fixtures that need replacing

  • you want to add additional lighting or install a new ceiling fan

  • you’re renovating and part of the project includes electrical work

  • you notice exposed wires anywhere in your home

  • you need to add a subpanel

  •  your electrical outlet is loose, and your plugs are not secured into the outlet

  • your lights dim when you turn on your air conditioning

  • you discover wiring that’s been attacked by “critters”

Why use a licensed electrician?

Most importantly, you want to limit the chances of shorts or fires.  Shorts cause resistance, potentially melting your wiring, shorting the conductors, which can cause an electrical fire that could destroy your home. If the wiring in your home isn’t installed correctly, or wires have poor terminations or splicing, it can cause sparking or arching.

It is also important that all electrical work complies with local building codes. These codes are surprisingly detailed and complex, and noncompliance can be dangerous and make your home hard or impossible to sell. In New York City, the building department does not allow homeowners to make their own electrical repairs or install new wiring.

Electricians study building codes extensively, so they know exactly how to handle your project safely, legally, and reliably. Don’t risk expensive fines or trouble selling your home in the future!

Amateur or shoddy electrical work is downright dangerous! It can, and frequently does, result in a nasty shock or in the worst-case scenario — accidental electrocution. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), thousands of people in the U.S. are critically injured or electrocuted each year in their own homes due to electrical mishaps, including attempting to do their own electrical work.

Electrical fires are among the most devastating fires in the country, and according to firefighting officials, they also cause more injuries to firemen than any other type of fire. Home electrical fires account for an estimated 51,000 fires each year, nearly than 500 deaths, more than 1,400 injuries, and $1.3 billion in property damage.

It is a good idea to conduct an annual assessment of your home electrical system, electrical cords, extension cords, power plugs, and outlets. Every few years, have your home electrical system thoroughly inspected by qualified electricians to ensure that all electrical work in the home meets the safety provisions of the National Electrical Code (NEC). Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the home and test them monthly to ensure that they are working properly.

Even the most modern, well-maintained home or building can have electrical problems or need their electrical service modified. Whether an outlet is loose or doesn’t work, or the lights are flickering, these are indicators that a repair is necessary.

When replacing old appliances, or adding additional appliances or equipment, make sure your electrical service can handle the load. If your circuit breakers are tripping frequently, especially when you turn on an appliance, you may need to have an electrician create a separate electrical circuit for that energy-hogging appliance.

If you’re building a new house, garage, or home addition, it’s important to start with proper wiring. A good electrical contractor will safely wire your home and work with you to understand your needs and how you’ll be using the space to ensure that the electrical system will address those needs.

Donald Pagano, President, DRP Electrical Contracting Inc.

(917) 577-1031  www.drpelectric.com