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Top Dallas Electrician | Helpful Tips for Three-Way Switch Installation and Wall Outlet Replacement

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited and updated from its original content with permission from National News Today. To view the original article please visit www.nationalnewstoday.com

A good number of the calls I get during an average day at work fall into two categories;   customers who call to have something installed in their electrical system, and customers who tried to install it themselves and are calling me to come and fix the mistakes they made.  There’s certainly nothing wrong with trying to perform basic electrical work yourself if you have a good grasp on proper electrical safety techniques and what you’re doing.  On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with calling a top Dallas electrician to do the work for you either.  The best way to ensure the job is done right every time is to hire an honest, hardworking professional electrician who’ll stand behind his work.

Even tasks that can seem quite simple can be treacherous if you’re not sure what you’re doing.  This comes into play a lot when a homeowner is trying to perform a three-way switch installation.  It seems a lot easier to install than it really is; I generally recommend homeowners not attempt to install three-way switches without at least a electrician on the phone to walk you through the process.  Keep the following in mind:

  • Identify the wires before you remove the switch. There are three wires hooked into your three-way switch.  One is the switch leg (or power), and the other two are called travelers.  Identify the travelers before you remove the switch.  This is important because the design of three-way switches isn’t standardized; the leads may not go in the same place on the new switch that they went on the old switch.  Knowing this ahead of time will save you from lengthy rewiring and a lot of heartache.
  • Know what switches you have installed. Because of the way they work, you can never have just one three-way switch; they are always installed in pairs.  If you’re having a problem with a three-way switch, you may want to go ahead and replace both of the three-way switches to ensure you get the faulty one.  “But what about that light in my house that is on three-switches?” you’re no doubt asking yourself.  Whenever you see a light or appliance that’s controlled by an odd number of switches (usually three), one of the switches will be a four-way switch.  Four-way switches are a totally different animal than a three-way switch and are hooked up in a completely different way.  You should NOT try to wire a four-way switch where a three-way switch used to be without contacting a top Dallas

There are tasks well suited for the do-it-yourself minded homeowner, though.  The easiest is wall outlet replacement, which is usually a very simple, straightforward procedure.   That doesn’t mean the haystack isn’t free of the odd needle that you can hurt yourself on, though.  Here are some of the more common problems I run into, along with some typical solutions or hints to keep them from happening to you: 

  • Replacing a simplex (single-plug) outlet. If you have a simplex outlet (these are typically found in garages), it was probably designed to have one specific appliance or device plugged into it; usually, this is something like a refrigerator or AC unit.  As such, it’s usually on a different circuit than the rest of the room (especially in a garage, where a refrigerator could easily trip the GFCI installed on the other circuits) and is rated specifically for that device.  If you plan to replace this with a duplex (dual-plug) outlet, you may need to rewire the circuit to allow the circuit to handle the additional item that can now be plugged in there. If you are not adding another appliance to this yet still installing a duplex outlet please consult a electrician to discuss safety issues.
  • Replacing a duplex outlet. Duplex outlets are generally pretty easy; the black wire is the power in, and the white the power out.  If your outlet is controlled by a switch, this isn’t so easy, though.  These outlets will have two powers in wires; one that connects it to the switch and the other that provides constant power and is attached to the bronze screw inside the outlet.  The metal tab between the screw and the connector must be completely broken off to complete the installation; if you get stuck, a good-hearted electrician can walk you through this over the phone.
  • Replacing a GFCI outlet. Notice that the back of the outlet has connections that say Line and Load.  Line controls the power in; the power lead and neutral should be hooked up here, with the power out line connected to load.  If you don’t wire these leads correctly or if any of the outlets are wired into the Line side of the outlet, they will not be properly protected by the GFCI.

For more information and other tips Electric Man to the rescue. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

 

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Best Dallas Electrician | Save Money with Digital Timer or Mechanical Timer Installation

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited and updated from its original content with permission from National News Today. To view the original article please visit www.nationalnewstoday.com

Saving money sometimes means coming up with an unconventional idea to make your life more efficient.  As such, one of the ways the best Dallas electrician can help you make your electrical system more efficient is also one of the more overlooked ways:  installing timers to control your lighting. Timers are great tools; they can be used to turn your lights on and off at any time, whether you’re home or not.  Besides keeping your house lit when you’re on vacation or controlling your Christmas lights or other holiday displays, there are plenty of other applications for timers too.  For instance, why not set a timer to control all the lights in your house? By setting the lights to turn off after you’re normally in bed, lights that you might have mistakenly left on will turn off, saving you money. You can also set your lights to come on when you wake up in the morning, making it easier for you to wake up!  (This makes a great backup alarm clock, by the way.)  You can turn your lights off when you’re gone at work, or turn them on during the day to give your pets light. There are two kinds of timers commonly used in home systems:  mechanical and digital timers.

Digital timers are a great tool for the modern home. They fit elegantly into your wall and are automated in a lot of ways; some even adjust themselves for daylight savings time automatically!  Even better, digital timer installation is pretty straight forward even for the do-it-yourself electrician.  However, remember that a digital timer is not a switch; because of the sensitive electronics inside, digital timers require a neutral wire that switches do not.  When I get called to deal with digital timer issues, they’re largely caused by the homeowner neglecting this fact or not considering it.  Some do-it-yourself electricians think they can just wire the neutral on the timer into the ground wire.  Let me be clear here, folks:  a ground wire is NOT a neutral, and wiring it into the timer that way will create an electrical shock hazard potential and damage the timer.

The other concern with digital timers is more of a design issue than a wiring issue, thankfully.  Before you go through with the timer installation, consider where it will be located and what kind of switches you have at the site.  This is important when the time comes to finish the work; most switch assemblies (and the switch plates that cover them) are rectangular.  But digital timers are pretty uniformly square objects, and they don’t always play nice with your existing switch plates.  If you don’t plan ahead, you might wind up having to make multiple trips to your hardware store or home improvement warehouse of choice to get the plates you need to make everything fit together.  This is actually one of those times where a professional installation can make your life easier:  the best Dallas electrician will carry multiple types of plates in his service truck, which saves you the time and effort of going back to the store over and over.  Even though a professional installation may be more expensive than doing it yourself, the time and effort you save may well more than cover the difference in price.

Mechanical timers are also really useful tools, although they’re a bit less common than the digital timers.  Mechanical timer installation generally occurs in one of several places.  Mechanical timers are most often found controlling swimming pool equipment to ensure it only runs for a given amount of time.  Make sure the timer is set to allow the equipment to run more often in summer than winter; this will help reduce the amount of algae in your pool.  Electrical timers are also pretty common for outdoor lighting; since they can be set to only turn lights off, you can make sure your outdoor lighting is off before sunrise to conserve power.  One of the best and most overlooked uses for mechanical timers has nothing to do with lights, though.  Attaching a timer to your water heater means you can keep the heater from running when you’re not home and don’t need hot water;  this can be a HUGE savings (though don’t forget to override the timer if you’re home from work for the day!).

What’s the difference between the timers?  Not as much as you might think, actually;  they both work the same way, and can perform the same functions.  Mechanical timers tend to be larger, last longer, and can handle more electrical load than a digital timer.  However, electrical timers tend to be designed as large, grey, metal boxes, which may stick out quite a bit in your home decor.  Digital timers can be built right into the wall, and their smaller size and more aesthetic designs may make them a better fit for your home.  Either way, timers are a great asset, and one you should consider installing in your home electrical system.

For more information and other tips Electric Man to the rescue. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

 

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Best Dallas Electrician | Dimmer Switch Installation and DIY Electrical Tip

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited and updated from its original content with permission from National News Today. To view the original article please visit www.nationalnewstoday.com

Everyone is looking for ways to save power.  Whether to save money or the planet, one of the best and most popular ways to save power on lighting is by installing dimmer switches to control your lights.  Besides saving power, they’re also great for setting the mood in your home.  More and more dimmer switches are being installed in American homes every year.

Dimmer switches are easy to install, even for an everyday person. Of course, even an easy installation can be problematic, so you should always contact the best Dallas electrician to ensure that you’re doing things right, or to perform the dimmer switch installation for you if you don’t want to take a chance of making a mistake.  Either way, here are some important do-it-yourself electrical tip to keep in mind about dimmer switches:

  • How many lights does the dimmer control? As simple as they may be, dimmer switches are a piece of electrical equipment just like any other, and there are limits to the amount of load they can handle.  Depending on which switch you buy, your dimmer can handle up to 600, 1000, 1500, or even 2000 watts of power; you can add up the wattage of all of the lights to make sure you’re not in danger of overloading the dimmer you’ve purchased.  It’s not a good idea to have the dimmer running as many lights as it can, either; running a dimmer switch at more than 80% of its load output (480W, 800W, 1200W, and 1600W, respectively) can dramatically shorten the lifespan of your dimmer switch.
  • How do I know if something’s wrong with the switch? Dimmer switches that are overloaded heat up as the excessive current heats the wires.  It’s OK for a switch to be warm, but if your dimmer switch is hot to the touch, it’s overloaded and is a potential hazard.
  • What other switches are connected here? If you’re installing a dimmer switch on a circuit that already has dimmers or other kinds of switches installed, the potential load the dimmer can handle will be decreased. It’s easy to overload the switch without realizing you’re doing anything wrong.  Always check the documentation included with the dimmer switch for more information before completing the installation.
  • What kinds of lights am I running with the switch? The best Dallas electrician knows that when a call comes in about a dimmer switch not working, I save a lot of time by first asking what kind of bulbs the switch is running.  Because of the way they work, fluorescent light bulbs can NOT be run by dimmer switches!  (Fluorescent bulbs that work with dimmers do exist, but are generally really expensive.)  You can save yourself a lot of time and effort by remembering never to use fluorescent bulbs in any fixture a dimmer switch controls.
  • What other kinds of devices are being run by this switch? A standard dimmer switch should never run any device that has a motor in it.  This includes things like ceiling fans that don’t always have obvious motors.  Motors can’t run on dimmer switches because all motors are designed to operate at a specific voltage at all times, which your electrical system is normally very good at providing to it.  A dimmer, on the other hand, works by slowly progressing through voltages from low to high as you turn the dimmer up.  This is fine for lights, but a motor running at an incorrect voltage will have a much shorter lifespan and will make a loud whining noise.  If you have a motor-driven device that you want to run with a dimmer, ask your hardware store or part supplier for a specialty dimmer switch, like those designed to run ceiling fans.
  • Do I have sensitive electrical equipment? Dimmer switches, especially older styles, can affect your sensitive audio equipment, even if they’re not on the same circuit.  The dimmer will cause the equipment to produce a humming or whining noise.  If this is happening to you, you basically have two options:  replace the dimmer switch or install a noise filter.  If it’s installed correctly at the audio equipment, the filter can eliminate the noise.  Try to buy a noise filter that covers as many frequencies as possible. If you try to go the cheap route with noise filters, you may discover that the interference is occurring on frequencies the cheap filter won’t cover, and the sound may suddenly return without warning over time.

For more information and other tips Electric Man to the rescue. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

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Richardson Electrician | Helpful Electrical Safety Tips for Home Chandelier Installation

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited and updated from its original content with permission from National News Today. To view the original article please visit www.nationalnewstoday.com

Part of my job as an electrician is not only to help fix an electrical system when something goes wrong, but also to help my customers make sure that the fixtures are correctly installed. Installation is the most important phase for an electrical fixture or appliance; following the proper procedures can help ensure the maximum life for the electrical device, minimize its upkeep, and save you from costly repairs.

One of the most popular fixtures I am called to install are chandeliers, and with good reason.  As beautiful and elegant as they can be, home chandelier installation can be extremely tricky, even for those with experience.  If you have recently purchased a chandelier, I strongly encourage you to call a skilled Richardson electrician to have it installed; a talented electrician knows how to best hang, wire, and secure your chandelier to the ceiling. With that in mind, here are some important electrical safety tips to ensure you get the most out of your new light fixture:

  • Wiring: The best reason to hire an electrician to install your chandelier has to do with how it’s wired into your electrical system.  Most do-it-yourself homeowners can’t tell which wire in the chandelier connects to which ceiling wire, risking damage to your chandelier.  If you find yourself with this problem, remember that the side of the chandelier wire with the ridges or bumps (you can feel them clearly if you run your fingers along the wire) is the neutral or power “out”, while the opposite smooth side is the power “in” wire.
  • Proper order of installation: It’s really important that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing the chandelier.  I can tell you from personal experience that people skip steps or go out of order all the time, which can be a real problem, especially for crystal chandeliers. I’ve arrived at an installation before to find all of the crystals already attached to the fixture, even though the instructions on ANY crystal chandelier tell you to install the fixture before you hang the crystals!  Crystal chandeliers with their crystals attached are incredibly heavy and extremely fragile. It is almost impossible for even a professional to install the chandelier properly in this state without breaking something.  Before you hang those crystals on an uninstalled chandelier, ask yourself this question:  do you want to show off your chandelier with its crystals broken?  Or worse, with your back broken?
  • Proper hanging procedures: Chandeliers are designed to hang from their chains. They are absolutely NOT designed to hang from the wire that connects them to your ceiling.  These wires are not designed to support any part of the fixture’s weight. Making it do so will inevitably stretch the wiring, leading to damage to the chandelier’s internal wiring, potential damage to your ceiling as the weight pulls the wiring out, and will stretch your wire, which is very dangerous and a severe fire hazard.  Always make sure the wire is loose, has a bit of slack, and isn’t being pinched by the chain links as it winds through them.
  • Ceiling Mounting: The canopy cover (the part that covers the hole in the ceiling the chandelier hangs from) should always be assembled and adjusted to the proper depth before you hook up the chandelier’s wiring. Do-it-yourself installers tend to try to screw the canopy cover in to get it flush to the ceiling, which can twist the wiring inside and lead to serious hazards.  If you’re having trouble getting the installation right, call a professional.
  • Weight Limits: If your chandelier weighs more than 100 pounds, your chandelier manufacturer requires additional wood bracing to be installed in your attic across the trusses to handle the load.  This has to be done carefully and in accordance with specifications, because the bracing will include a special high-tension braided steel safety wire that is connected to the chandelier in case of chain failure. (Obviously, I hope you’ll never need this.) Since this is a change in the engineering of your house, this sort of bracing should NEVER be self-installed or performed by a handyman or light fixture company installer;  only a licensed professional electrician can ensure the bracing will not fail, causing the chandelier to fall and destroy itself, along with anything underneath it:  flooring (even marble!), stairs, banisters, or your furniture.

For more information and other tips Electric Man to the rescue. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

 

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Top Dallas Electrician | Avoid Christmas Light Wiring Problems with these Tips

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited and updated from its original content with permission from National News Today. To view the original article please visit www.nationalnewstoday.com

Christmas is upon us again and more than any other time of year, it’s the time of year where people put strain on their electrical system.  The lights on your house and the beautiful decorations you’ve been storing in your attic finally are brought out and plugged in for your friends and neighbors to view and appreciate.  And, of course, the vast majority of homes you visit have at least one Christmas tree.  Since most of these things are electrical, it’s probably not a surprise to you that, as a top Dallas electrician, I start getting a lot of calls this time of year.  Though it’s always nice to have the business with Christmas so close, I thought it’d be great to share with ways to avoid wiring problems with your Christmas decorations this year:

  • Avoid a ho-ho-hoverload! When wiring Christmas lights, the natural thing to do is to plug all of them in, one after the other.  We don’t stop to think about how much power the circuit can actually handle.  A standard 20-amp home circuit runs at 120 volts, which means it can handle up to 2400W.  How many strings of lights is this?  It really depends on the type of lights you’re using; LED lights tend to use less power than incandescent lights.  Always check the package the lights come in; the packaging is required to tell you how much power the lights use.  Add up the wattage on all the lights you’re planning to plug into the outlet, and you’ll get an idea of how close you are to the overload point on the circuit, and whether you can add more lights to the circuit you have or need to find another circuit.  But that’s not the only thing to think about, either.  Many people plug their Christmas lights and decorations into the external outlet near their front doors;  often, though, these outlets are on the same circuit as the outlets in your garage, meaning anything that draws power in your garage counts just as much as your lighting.  If your home is old enough, that external outlet may even be on the same circuit as your bathrooms!  I’ve answered more than one call from a customer who was getting ready to attend a Christmas party only to suddenly have the breaker trip, shutting off all the power in the bathroom!  “But it’s never done that before!” they tell me.  Of course not, you don’t normally have thousands of watts of lights plugged in at the same time as a hair dryer!
  • Beware of rain and ice storms! December is in the middle of winter in Texas, and while we don’t get a lot of snow, we do generally get quite a bit of rain.  Those yard lights with the big glass globes may be pretty, but they do tend to hold rain water pretty well. If they try to turn on, whether they’re on a timer or not, they’ll short out the circuit every time.  When the weather gets colder, we sometimes get freezing rain;  this just means that instead of holding the water, it’s holding it as ice, which still conducts current well enough to short circuit your lighting.  Be sure to inspect your lighting after your home gets rain of any kind to make sure your light fixtures are dry and ready to be used safely.
  • Older doesn’t always mean wiser! I get a lot of calls from homeowners this time of year complaining that the lights they’ve been using for years suddenly don’t work anymore.  They assume the problem must be with the electrical system, since the lights haven’t ever had a problem before.  But this really isn’t the case. Lighting and decorations degrade over time.  Even when they aren’t in use, the lights are still adding wear and tear.  Think about what those lights are doing the other eleven months out of the year. Some people leave external lights on their homes all the time, leaving them to fall prey to the elements.  Even lighting that’s put in storage have to deal with radically shifting temperatures, especially the summer heat that tends to make your attic boiling hot.  It’s not surprising that lighting breaks down under those circumstances.  Be prepared every year to replace older, worn-out strings of lights.

 In general, there are a few important tips that can help you avoid wiring problems.  If your lights look frayed or dangerous, they should always be replaced or repaired before using them, frayed wiring are hazardous.  You should take care that your electrical source is safe before you even begin the installation process.  To avoid the potential for overloads, you should have dedicated circuits installed for your holiday decorations.

Most importantly, you should never try to supply power for your lights without contacting a top Dallas electrician to help you install the necessary equipment and make the necessary safety precautions.  Short cuts are potentially dangerous. I can remember one example where a customer had supplied power to their lights by splicing an extension cord directly into their circuit breaker box!  Even worse, they’d shut the breaker box door, pinching the cabling!  Left unchecked, even if this hadn’t started a fire, damage from a power surge or overload could have easily destroyed their whole breaker, meaning they’d have to spend thousands to repair the damage at the absolute worst time of year!

For more information and other tips Electric Man to the rescue. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

 

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Top Dallas Electrician | Avoid Christmas Light Wiring Problems with these Tips

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited and updated from its original content with permission from National News Today. To view the original article please visit www.nationalnewstoday.com

Christmas is upon us again and more than any other time of year, it’s the time of year where people put strain on their electrical system.  The lights on your house and the beautiful decorations you’ve been storing in your attic finally are brought out and plugged in for your friends and neighbors to view and appreciate.  And, of course, the vast majority of homes you visit have at least one Christmas tree.  Since most of these things are electrical, it’s probably not a surprise to you that, as a top Dallas electrician, I start getting a lot of calls this time of year.  Though it’s always nice to have the business with Christmas so close, I thought it’d be great to share with ways to avoid wiring problems with your Christmas decorations this year:

  • Avoid a ho-ho-hoverload! When wiring Christmas lights, the natural thing to do is to plug all of them in, one after the other.  We don’t stop to think about how much power the circuit can actually handle.  A standard 20-amp home circuit runs at 120 volts, which means it can handle up to 2400W.  How many strings of lights is this?  It really depends on the type of lights you’re using; LED lights tend to use less power than incandescent lights.  Always check the package the lights come in; the packaging is required to tell you how much power the lights use.  Add up the wattage on all the lights you’re planning to plug into the outlet, and you’ll get an idea of how close you are to the overload point on the circuit, and whether you can add more lights to the circuit you have or need to find another circuit.  But that’s not the only thing to think about, either.  Many people plug their Christmas lights and decorations into the external outlet near their front doors;  often, though, these outlets are on the same circuit as the outlets in your garage, meaning anything that draws power in your garage counts just as much as your lighting.  If your home is old enough, that external outlet may even be on the same circuit as your bathrooms!  I’ve answered more than one call from a customer who was getting ready to attend a Christmas party only to suddenly have the breaker trip, shutting off all the power in the bathroom!  “But it’s never done that before!” they tell me.  Of course not, you don’t normally have thousands of watts of lights plugged in at the same time as a hair dryer!
  • Beware of rain and ice storms! December is in the middle of winter in Texas, and while we don’t get a lot of snow, we do generally get quite a bit of rain.  Those yard lights with the big glass globes may be pretty, but they do tend to hold rain water pretty well. If they try to turn on, whether they’re on a timer or not, they’ll short out the circuit every time.  When the weather gets colder, we sometimes get freezing rain;  this just means that instead of holding the water, it’s holding it as ice, which still conducts current well enough to short circuit your lighting.  Be sure to inspect your lighting after your home gets rain of any kind to make sure your light fixtures are dry and ready to be used safely.
  • Older doesn’t always mean wiser! I get a lot of calls from homeowners this time of year complaining that the lights they’ve been using for years suddenly don’t work anymore.  They assume the problem must be with the electrical system, since the lights haven’t ever had a problem before.  But this really isn’t the case. Llighting and decorations degrade over time.  Even when they aren’t in use, the lights are still adding wear and tear.  Think about what those lights are doing the other eleven months out of the year. Some people leave external lights on their homes all the time, leaving them to fall prey to the elements.  Even lighting that’s put in storage have to deal with radically shifting temperatures, especially the summer heat that tends to make your attic boiling hot.  It’s not surprising that lighting breaks down under those circumstances.  Be prepared every year to replace older, worn-out strings of lights.

             In general, there are a few important tips that can help you avoid wiring problems.  If your lights look frayed or dangerous, they should always be replaced or repaired before using them, frayed wiring are hazardous.  You should take care that your electrical source is safe before you even begin the installation process.  To avoid the potential for overloads, you should have dedicated circuits installed for your holiday decorations.

Most importantly, you should never try to supply power for your lights without contacting a top Dallas electrician to help you install the necessary equipment and make the necessary safety precautions.  Short cuts are potentially dangerous. I can remember one example where a customer had supplied power to their lights by splicing an extension cord directly into their circuit breaker box!  Even worse, they’d shut the breaker box door, pinching the cabling!  Left unchecked, even if this hadn’t started a fire, damage from a power surge or overload could have easily destroyed their whole breaker, meaning they’d have to spend thousands to repair the damage at the absolute worst time of year!

For more information and other tips Electric Man to the rescue. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

 

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Licensed Dallas Electrician | Avoid Electrician Scams and Phony Electricians, Save Money

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited and updated from its original content with permission from National News Today. To view the original article please visit www.nationalnewstoday.com

As a licensed Dallas electrician, I see a lot of the work other electricians do.  A lot of it is good, high-quality work similar to the work I and my employees do but not all of it is, unfortunately.  Just like any other industry, there are plenty of bad deals and scam artists preying on customers looking for a good deal.  The slow economy doesn’t get rid of these phony electricians either.  If anything, it makes them come out of the woodwork as people try to save money by using less expensive services.  So, how do you avoid electrician scams?  Obviously, it can be really difficult to detect some scams, but here’s some important tips that can help:

  • GET 3 ESTIMATES. I can’t stress enough how important this step is.  If one of the estimates is much lower than the others, it may not be a great deal; it might be the first step to a scam.  Like my grandfather always said, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.”
  • Make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for. This is one of the most common types of scams; charging you for something you’re not getting. It’s not just the small, fly-by-night electricians who do this, either; even larger services can be crooked and try to scam you. For instance, I once serviced a customer who had an electrical service company install three dedicated circuits in his home, but was still having problems with them. Imagine his horror when we pulled the wiring and discovered they’d only installed one and charged him for three! This happens a lot in business electrical work, too: some companies know that businesses are often too busy to check their work right away, which leads to things like a company being charged for eight fluorescent ballasts when only three were installed. It’s ok to ask the electrician to show you the work he did once he’s finished, and don’t be afraid to ask questions when he presents his bill to you.  Which brings up another great way to avoid electrician scams:
  • Watch the electrician while he works. A reputable, honest electrician doesn’t mind you watching him work; in fact, it gives them an opportunity to show you how your system is functioning, and to explain any problems that might be developing with your home or business before they get worse.  If an electrician won’t let you watch him work on your home, he’s probably either unsure of his skill or planning to scam you.  Either way, find another electrician.
  • Check the license of the electrician when he arrives. All electricians in the state of Texas are required to keep their state license on them when working and to present it to a customer upon request.  You should always do this when the electrician arrives; a reputable electrician will not take this personally and will happily show you what you need to see.  If the electrician at your door refuses to show you his license or makes excuses to avoid doing so, close the door on him and call for another electrician.  Trust me:  this will pay off in the long run.
  • Don’t get desperate. Sometimes there are legitimate electrical emergencies in your home or business, but that doesn’t mean you should make your decision in a panic mode.  Desperation is the lifeblood of scam artists; they survive because people don’t always have time to make the proper decision, and in their rush to get things done make a poor choice of electrician.  How do you get around this?  No matter how bad things are, it is ALWAYS best to use a reputable, established contractor to fulfill your needs.  You should always take the time to do research and pick a good, honest electrician.  This is especially true if it’s not an emergency; if you don’t absolutely need the service right away, waiting an additional day or two for a quality electrician isn’t going to affect you very much.  I mean, you’re living without whatever he’s going to install right now, right?
  • Keep your head. Some electricians try to plow through you, confusing you with technical terminology and making you think they’re better than they are, when all they’re really good at is talking.  Don’t be afraid to slow the electrician down as he explains it to you and ask questions.  Make him explain it to you in a way you can understand; if he can’t, maybe he doesn’t know what he was doing!

Above all, remember that taking risks with your electrical work isn’t a good thing.  You wouldn’t tell your friend or boss to use a shifty electrician.  So why put your own loved ones through it. Don’t use a service company you wouldn’t recommend to others?

For more information and other tips Electric Man to the rescue. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

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Dallas Electrician | Finding Quality Electricians and Spotting Bad Electrical Contractors

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited and updated from its original content with permission from National News Today. To view the original article please visit www.nationalnewstoday.com

Competition is a wonderful thing. It makes us want to strive to be better, and keeps us working hard.  But competition isn’t perfect; there’s always another option, and you can’t always tell right away what option is the best deal or the highest quality. It is easy to determine the quality when it comes to something inexpensive; if you don’t like a brand of motor oil or breakfast cereal, you can always buy something different next time. But what happens if you pick a bad electrician?  Failing to spot bad electrical contractors, could mean you’ll wind up paying way too much for your service. Paying too much might actually be the best-case scenario; shoddy electrical work done by “electricians” is a safety hazard, and one you might not even know about until it’s too late.

So how do you find quality electricians? As a Dallas electrician myself, I’ve learned over the years how to make sure the electrician you use is knowledgeable and high-quality:

  • Check the company’s reputation and references. Years ago, you had to rely on word of mouth and your own knowledge to find a good electrician.  With the Internet, there are more ways than ever to get feedback:  the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, and tons of websites devoted to customers sharing feedback on the services they use.  You should always check these before you start calling for estimates. Don’t just rely on one source, either:  some contractors plant fake feedback on websites hoping to lure customers. Check as many different sources as you can. This will give you the best possible picture of the contractor you’re considering.
  • Look for companies with a long history of quality. Electricians generally stay with the same employer longer than the national average, but the poor economy the last few years has meant there’s a lot of turnover in the industry.  As a result, lots of electricians have closed their doors, with new companies without track records opening to take their place.  It’s entirely possible that these new companies do quality work, but there’s not a good way to know for sure.  That’s why how long the company’s been around is important.  If a contractor’s been around a long time, they’re probably a good choice; they wouldn’t have survived if they did shoddy work.  It also means that they’re likely to continue to be around in the future, and that they’ll likely stand behind their work and fix any problems that might pop up.  That contractor that opened up last month might well have the lowest estimate, but will they still be around next month?
  • Don’t be afraid to call and ask! Just because a company advertises “experienced electricians” doesn’t always mean they know what they’re doing.  During the housing boom a few years ago, demand for electricians was so high that a lot of housing companies would use under-qualified electricians just because the bids were low. Sometimes they’d make simple mistakes that caused serious problems; for example, in one home I serviced the low-bid “electrician” the housing contractor hired put a staple right through a wire, causing a short circuit that nobody discovered until the homeowner smelled the smoke from the wire melting!  Yet, the individual who made this obvious and dangerous mistake could legally hire themselves out as an “experienced electrician!” The best way to avoid electricians like this is to always call and ask the company some questions about their employees before you commit.  How do they find their electricians?  Does the company perform background checks and drug tests on them?  How are they trained? How much experience do they have?  Questions like these are a great way to spot bad electrical contractors. If the contractor you’re talking to won’t answer questions about their employees, there’s probably a reason, and not a good one.  Take it from me:  if this happens, take your business somewhere else as fast as you can.
  • Check the company’s insurance coverage. In Texas, electrical contractors are only required to carry insurance that covers up to $300,000.  Faulty electrical work can cause a lot more damage than the minimum required insurance will cover.  Quality electricians will generally have more insurance to protect themselves and their customers;  make sure that the amount of insurance they have could cover your losses if a worst-case scenario like a catastrophic electrical fire were to happen.

For more information and other tips Electric Man to the rescue. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

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Dallas Electrician | Save Time and Money By Troubleshooting Common Power Problems via Phone

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited and updated from its original content with permission from National News Today. To view the original article please visit www.nationalnewstoday.com

Electricians exist because of problems with your electrical system. But not every problem requires an electrician to come to your house for a service visit. Often, a simple phone call and a few questions can fix the problem!  Troubleshooting common power problems like this not only lets you get on with your life, but it saves time and money! Not every electrician is willing to tell you this, of course. Too many electricians, even legitimate ones, are motivated only by the money they can get from piling on charges from a service call, instead of being interested in helping their customers. Customer service and caring for families’ situations is more important than money. Remember that gets you better friends, employees, and customers.  I really do wish more electricians remembered that.  Having said that, here are some of the most common problems I solve without scheduling a service appointment and have successfully helped repair over the phone:

  • My air conditioner’s not working! This is always one of the most frustrating problems you can have with your electrical system, and it’s hard to think of anything worse than being stuck going an extended period of time without your air conditioner in the middle of the summer.  Your air conditioner or heater is a very complicated system, so there are a number of things that could be causing the failure.  One of the most common reasons an air conditioner stops working is because the circuit breaker it’s on was tripped by an incoming power surge;  this can be fixed over the phone!  If the problem is more complex, a good-hearted electrician can still walk you through a number of steps to determine whether the problem requires an electrician or an AC technician to repair.
  • My outside outlets aren’t working! I get this call at least once every Christmas, when people putting up their Christmas lights discover that they can’t get anything plugged into an outside outlet to work.  Again, calling a Dallas electrician saves time and money in the long run.  As I mentioned in one of the other articles available here, external outlets are fitted with a GFCI for safety reasons.  (And if they aren’t, they should be!)  If the GFCI has tripped, none of the external outlets will work until the GFCI is reset. The GFCI which controls external outlets is located inside, often on the wall of your garage. Many times a homeowner doesn’t even realize what it does or where it is, and proceeds to stack boxes or tools right in front of it!  Resetting the GFCI can be done by anyone, and an electrician doesn’t need to be in your garage to help you locate the GFCI.
  • The ceiling fan I installed isn’t working! Most ceiling fans have four connections (wires) that hook them into the wiring in your ceiling, which has 3 leads.  So which wire gets hooked up to which lead?  When you combine that with instructions that are usually insufficient, poorly translated, or just plain confusing, it’s not really a surprise that people have so much trouble with the installation.  A good electrician should always be willing to explain over the phone what to connect where, and in what order (and yes, order DOES matter in electrical installations).
  • The lights on my ceiling fan flicker! This is almost always something that can be fixed without a home visit.  As strange as this may sound, the problem isn’t generally with your wiring or electrical system; the problem is light bulbs.  Many ceiling fans have been installed on lighting dimmers, which do NOT work with compact fluorescent bulbs; the reduced current causes them to flicker, not dim.  Putting an incandescent bulb in the socket can fix the problem immediately!  Also ceiling fans should not be installed on lighting dimmers but on a three speed fan dimmer or single pole switch. A separate switch should be supplied if you want to control the light from a dimmer.

For more information and other tips Electric Man to the rescue.  We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

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Top Richardson Electrician | Learn How to Handle Power Overloads and Electrical Troubleshooting

Editor’s Note: This article has been edited and updated from its original content with permission from National News Today. To view the original article please visit www.nationalnewstoday.com

In my last few articles, I’ve been talking about the importance of safety, and how best to keep your home safe.  But I know you don’t typically call an electrician just to make sure that your home electrical system is safe (although it’s an EXCELLENT reason to do so). Generally, you call an electrician because something’s going wrong with your electrical system. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some of the electrical troubleshooting that my electricians and I do on a daily basis, to help you avoid some of the most common problems we see on the job.

I’ve found throughout my years in this industry that a lot of the most common problems are caused by something that’s easily avoidable with a little planning and forethought, power overloads. A power overload is exactly what it sounds like, when an outlet or wire fails because there are too many devices being used at one time. Think of it like adding more and more weight to the end of a tree branch; there’s only so much weight (load) it can handle before it breaks.

Although ultimately one overloaded circuit is more or less the same as another, overloads have a number of different causes, and can even have different symptoms depending on where in your home they occur.  No matter how or where they happen, though, overloads are serious fire hazards. Overloaded wires melt, causing electrical shorts and conducting heat to potentially flammable materials like the wood in your walls.  Repairing the damage from these overloads often requires the electrician making the repair to simply pull the wires out and rewire the circuit, which can be expensive.  It’s in your best interest to know how to avoid overloading your electrical system in the first place but also be aware that an overload has occurred.

The most common sign of an overload I run across tends to go something like this, half of the room will be getting no power, while the other half is receiving power as normal. Even more out of the ordinary, the breakers that connect the room to the electrical panel haven’t been tripped.  So, what’s causing the issue?  If this happens in your living or media room, it’s surprisingly easy to diagnose:  60 to 70% of the time, the problem is the outlet behind your entertainment center melting down (in some cases, literally melting down) from being overloaded.  When your entertainment center was installed, you might not have even considered that you were in danger of overloading the outlet. The combination of your TV, DVD player, video game systems, stereo system, huge speakers, and cable or satellite receivers can quickly overwhelm any outlet, and they add up quickly.  This is why a top Richardson electrician will always suggest that your entertainment center be set up on a dedicated circuit with a separate power source from the rest of the room; it’s the best way to ensure you’re not overloading your circuit.

Other overloads occur because of the changing weather. I’ve seen plenty of people who’ve overloaded a wall outlet just by plugging a window air conditioning unit into it. These window AC units draw a ton of power; in fact, they can typically max out the circuit just by themselves, meaning anything else you have plugged into that circuit is overloading it!  Similarly, most space heaters require 1800 watts to operate. This is exactly how much power a typical 15A electrical circuit breaker should allow.  Even plugging in something as simple as a light bulb alongside it overloads the circuit.  Window air conditioners and space heaters should always be placed on dedicated circuits to avoid this problem.

Another all-too-common overload occurs quite often in older homes.  A family getting ready for the day suddenly discovers that they no longer have any power in any of the bathrooms in the house!  This is the result of an overload, too, even worse, it’s a hard overload to detect unless you know a bit about how homes used to be wired.  You see, years ago when homes were being wired up, they tended to wire all the receptacles in all the bathrooms on the same circuit. This means that they’re all typically running on the same 15A electrical circuit.  This leads to one of the most notorious causes of overloads.  Remember how I mentioned that a space heater typically needs 1800 watts to run?  Well, most hair dryers typically require 1850 watts, meaning that if your wife or daughter are drying their hair at the same time as someone else is using power in the other bathroom, the circuit is overloaded.  And if your wife and daughter are BOTH using their hair dryers at the same time, it won’t take long for the whole circuit to fail or shut off.  Thankfully, electricians wiring newer homes always put multiple bathrooms on separate circuits to help minimize this problem.

Again, I want to stress that events like these are completely avoidable, as long as you take the time to think about how much you’re plugging into one circuit.  With a little thought, and the helping hand of a caring electrician if you’re unsure, you can save yourself a lot of pain in the long run.

For more information and other tips Electric Man to the rescue.  We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.

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