An electrician is a highly-skilled professional responsible for making sure that the power in your home runs and performs exactly as it should. With a little luck, you won't need to work with an electrician very often during home ownership, but if you find yourself struggling with a problematic wire, a broken outlet, or simply a need for some new installations, then it's important that you know how to find a good electrician.
Finding a reputable electrician might seem simple enough on the surface, but it can be more complex than you'd think. Not only do you need to refine your search to look exclusively at local electricians that serve your specific area, but you should be looking for someone who has experience in the kind of project you need to complete too.
Since the wrong electrician could lead to additional expense, and even danger for your family, it's important to know who you're working with from day one. To help you figure out how to effectively find an electrician in Missoula Montana, we've put together this comprehensive guide to choosing the perfect professional.
When Do You Need to Call in a Reputable Electrician?
Before you start looking for local electricians, you'll need to determine whether your task requires the help of an expert. For instance, you can probably manage to change a lightbulb yourself, but for anything more complex involving electricity, it's crucial that you don't take any chances.
A problem with the electricity in your home could be caused by something as simple as a broken wire, but if you attempt to fix the issue yourself, you could risk making the problem worse, or even exposing your home to the possibility of an electrical fire. Additionally, attempting to fix an electrical problem yourself could mean that your insurance provider refuses to honor your policy. Before you overlook the importance of deciding to find an electrician in Missoula Montana, remember:
Choosing to find an electrician in Missoula Montana who knows their way around your circuitry and systems can protect you from a range of dangers. However, local electricians can also find hidden dangers that you might not notice as a regular civilian. A deteriorating wire that might have gone unnoticed in your home can be quickly replaced, protecting you against the risk of fire at a later stage. When it comes to your home, don't take the risk, stick with a reputable electrician.
So, how do you find a good electrician in your area? Start by following these tips.
1. Look for Licensing and Insurance
Hiring a licensed, certified, and reputable electrician to work on the systems within your home might not be an expense you're looking forward to, but it's something that's well-worth the money. Even if your project seems somewhat straight-forward, like adding new sockets to a wall, or wiring an additional room, a professional electrician will maintain the security and integrity of your property.
When you start your quest to find an electrician in Missoula, Montana, don't be afraid to ask the professional you choose to provide you with evidence of their documentation. It's perfectly reasonable for a homeowner to want to see the certifications of the people that are working on their home.
Additionally, while you should never consider hiring an electrician who hasn't got the right license, you should also keep an eye out for proof of insurance too. Local electricians in Montana should have at least $500,000 in liability insurance, and you can request to see a copy of their policy when they come to your home to deliver an estimate.
2. Watch Out for Possible Fraudsters
When you're looking for tips on how to find a good electrician in your area, the chances are that you're not thinking much about the threat of fraud. However, if your electrical system needs to be repaired after a significant problem, then it's important to make sure that you avoid any possibly fraudulent contractors. The FEMA or federal emergency management agency provides the following tips to help minimize your risk of fraud:
3. Don't Just Choose the Cheapest Option
When you start wondering about how to find an electrician in your local area, there's a good chance that you'll want to find someone who suits your budget. A good electrician can be an expensive investment, and if you don't have a lot of money to spare, it might be tempting to cut corners and go with someone who's a lot cheaper.
Unfortunately, while it's always nice to save money, the electrical components of your home are too important to be overlooked for the sake of a few extra dollars. If you find an electrician who offers a deal that seems too good to be true, the chances are that they're not going to deliver the quality of service that you need.
If you feel uncertain about any electrician - regardless of the price that they offer, make sure that you ask for their license number and look them up online. This will help to put your mind at rest with some useful third-party information.
4. Find an Electrician Who Is Familiar with your Project
Just as a mechanic might be particularly good at working with certain types of cars, and a plumber may be more skilled at working with kitchens than bathrooms, local electricians come with their own specialties. Your aim should be to find an electrician in Missoula Montana who has experience working with a project like the one that you need help with.
If you're not sure whether the electrician you've found is right for the job at hand, you can start by looking at their websites. Some companies will provide a run-down of the services that they offer, which should help you to make a more informed decision. On the other hand, you could try discussing your project with the electrician and ask them to tell you about similar things they've worked on before.
For instance, if you're looking for alternative energy solutions, consider asking about solar systems, backup generators, and other relevant projects.
5. Look for Recommendations
One of the easiest ways to find an electrician that's right for you is to consider working with people who have been recommended by your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. If you know that these people have delivered good work for people in your social circle, then there's a good chance that you'll feel more comfortable using them for your own job.
Start by making a list of local electricians recommended by people you know, requesting information from your network about their contact information, address, and telephone numbers. From there, you can head online and do some of your own research. For instance, remember to look for the following things in a reputable electrician:
Remember to ask the person you know about their opinion of the expert they worked with too. For instance, ask them what they liked most about working with this individual, and what they had a problem with. That way, you can begin to compare your options according to the features that matter most to you.
The Questions to Ask When You Find a Reputable Electrician
Once you find an electrician in Missoula Montana that seems to meet your stringent standards, your job isn't necessarily over yet. You should also make sure that you know the right questions to ask before they begin working on your project. This will help you to determine once and for all whether you've chosen the right local electricians to protect and enhance your home.
Some of the questions you should ask include:
1. Who Will Be on the Work Team?
Often, local electricians will work alongside several different experts to give you the best possible results for your project. In the case of certain electrical companies, you may find that if the business receives too much work, they might subcontract their needs out to other certified professionals to get work completed on their busier days.
When you begin looking at how to find a good electrician, make sure you know exactly who will be involved with your project. Being informed beforehand will help you to avoid any nasty surprises with electricians that you don't know.
2. What Are your Qualifications and Certifications?
As mentioned above, it's important that your electrician is licensed to work in your local area, but you also need to be sure that the professional you choose has the right experience and training to provide the top-quality service that you expect too. Certified electricians should have at least 3 years of experience, and many provide a 12-month warranty on their work.
Don't feel nervous about wanting to find an electrician with the right background knowledge. If you can't find information about their certifications online, then you can always ask for them to run through their qualifications with you in person.
3. How Much Will I Need to Pay?
Finding a reputable electrician that you can afford is key to a successful experience. Nothing scares homeowners away from learning how to find a good electrician more, than the fear of added costs, excess charges, and drawn-out schedules. Speak to your electrical contractor in person and ask them to provide an on-site estimate for your project.
Most contractors will be able to offer a quote for free, and some will provide a price guarantee in writing, so you know from day one exactly how much you can expect your electrical work to cost you.
4. Do You Offer any Guarantees and Warranties?
Before you agree to a quote and allow your electrical contractor to start work on your home, it's worth checking to see whether they offer any warranties and guarantees, as these can be a sure sign of genuine high-quality service and workmanship. The best local electricians will often offer warranties on their work to ensure that you're covered if something goes wrong once your project is completed. Additionally, many contractors are happy to follow up on a project to make sure that you're satisfied with the product.
When it comes to achieving comfort and convenience for your home, it's important to find an electrician in Missoula Montana that's willing to go above and beyond when providing exemplary service for your property. Choose companies that are willing to guarantee a high level of performance regardless of whether you're wiring a new room or investing in electricity for a brand-new property.
5. How Long Will It Take?
Finally, just as pricing and quality will play an important part in helping you to find an electrician you can trust, you'll also need to make sure that you choose someone who can complete the project within a reasonable timeframe. Some companies may require you to wait for longer if they have a particularly busy schedule, and you'll need to decide whether it's worth waiting for them to be ready, or whether you'd rather look elsewhere.
Often, the time it takes to complete your electrical project will depend on what you need to be done. For instance, wiring a new home will take a lot longer than a bit of routine maintenance on a wire in your bedroom wall. However, it's worth getting an estimate from a few different local electricians if you're not sure how long your project should take.
If you feel as though the estimated time-frame is too long or too short, you could ask your contractor to give you an insight into how they're going to be using their time each day.
Finding Local Electricians for Your Home
It can be difficult to find an electrician in Missoula Montana that meets all your expectations for quality, efficiency, price, and performance. However, when it comes to something as important as your home's electrical system, it's important that you don't settle for anything less than the best.
The tips above will help you to assess each of the contractors that you speak to carefully, so you can decide based on your individual needs. However, if you want to find out what a reputable electrician could do for you, why not call us here at Talco and let us put our decades of knowledge to work for you?
How safe is your home?
The answer to that question comes down to several different factors, including whether you have any safety solutions installed, what kind of fire hazards are located around your property, and even the kind of materials that were used to wire your electrical components.
While homes featuring aluminum wiring are significantly less common today than they once were, they still contribute to a lot of controversy in the architectural and home improvement world. Over the decades, aluminum wires have been connected to a range of electrical fires and damage - some issues have even led to homeowner fatalities.
Yet, despite this, in some circumstances, aluminum still has a great deal of value. For instance, the material is present in most high-voltage power lines and airplanes. In these circumstances, aluminum has proved itself to be safe, and more effective than standard copper wire.
The question is, what makes residential aluminum wiring so dangerous in the average home?
The Problem with Residential Aluminum Wiring in Homes
According to information recorded by the consumer product safety commission, around two million homes throughout America today have been restored, renovated, or built using electrical circuits that feature aluminum wiring. According to specialists in the field, unless every possible safety precaution was taken, each light-switch, outlet, and junction box in these aluminum wire homes could represent a fire waiting to happen.
So, if aluminum is so dangerous, why did contractors use the material in the first place? The simple answer is that most companies simply had no idea of just how problematic aluminum could be until the reports of fires and electrical faults began rolling in around the 60s and 70s. The use of aluminum wiring emerged to save money, and many brands believed that the material was very effective at distributing and transmitting electricity.
It makes sense that experts would want to use aluminum instead of copper. Not only is the material less expensive, but it's also lighter and stronger, which meant that cables were less likely to sag. Aluminum is also far more environmentally friendly, as it can easily be recycled, and doesn't have the same toxicity problems as smoking copper wire.
Unfortunately, aluminum quickly began to show its problems in both commercial and residential buildings. This form of wire easily separates from the screws in electrical outlets, lights, and switches, leading to poor connections. When the connection isn't strong, the wire begins to eat up, causing the aluminum to oxidize and create even more heat, which eventually leads to fire.
Poor repairs to residential aluminum wiring can make the problem even worse - such as when technicians attempt to connect copper and aluminum wire with twist-on connectors. Even the connectors designed to work with copper and aluminum wiring can be dangerous in this case.
Copper vs. Aluminum - The Test Results are in!
While aluminum may be stronger and lighter than copper, it simply can't compare when it comes to peace of mind and property safety. Soon after aluminum wiring had started to become more popular in the building world, problems started to appear. These issues ranged all the way from flickering lights, to warm switches, and burned insulation on wiring. Eventually, experts had to recognize the presence of an over-heating issue.
Once technicians began to evaluate the differences between aluminum and copper wiring, they found three distinct factors that could be prompting the hazards of aluminum wiring:
The problems with aluminum wiring have pushed government officials to make changes to building codes around the world so that copper is more frequently used in modern properties. However, if your home is old enough, then there's a good chance that there's still aluminum wiring present within it.
Does Your Home Have Aluminum Wiring?
Once you know the hazards of aluminum wiring, there's a good chance you'll want to know whether it's present in your home. According to most records, if your property was built between the years of 1965, and 1973, you're likely to have at least some residential aluminum wiring in your home.
To find out for sure, you can either speak to your realtor or developer if you know how to get in touch with them. Most of these experts will have files and documents relating to the type of electrical installation you have on your property. If you're curious, or you're feeling panicked about the hazards of aluminum, you can also check yourself by looking at the wiring between open floor joists in the basement or in the attic. It's also possible to check your wiring at your service panel.
If your wiring is aluminum based, the covering on the outer cable will be marked once every twelve inches or so with the word "ALUM" or "AL" if it was installed before 1977. On the other hand, if your wiring was installed after May 1977, you might notice markings like Aluminum ACM, Alum ACM, or AL ACM.
How to Deal with the Hazards of Aluminum
How Can You Keep Your Home Safe?
Ultimately, problems with aluminum wire happen mainly around the connections in a property, when the fittings become loose and result in carbon build-up, overheating, and eventual fires. The gradual smoldering of the wire insulation might mean that your wiring is fine for several years before it finally ignites. Because of this, it's important that you don't simply assume your wires are fine because you've had no problems up to now. A full and detailed evaluation by a contractor is crucial to make sure your system is safe.
A full evaluation will include an inspection of all the connections at each outlet throughout your home, and in all of the breaker panels. This can be a time-consuming process, but it's worth it to reduce your risk of fire to a minimum.
A common misconception when it comes to aluminum wiring is that the only way to keep yourself and your family safe is to replace every sign of aluminum in your home. This can be something of an overaction in some cases, as you may simply need to modify the connections where aluminum has been used. With the help of a licensed electrician, your options will include:
If you haven't noticed any problems yet, then you may not feel the need to start repairs straight away. However, it's important to schedule examinations from a qualified electrician either way, as you need to ensure that your wiring is as safe as possible. If you live in a home that might feature residential aluminum wiring, regular inspections are key to keeping your investment, and your loved ones safe.
We Are Here To Serve You!
If you're new to the electrical world, then the first thing you need to know is that a three-way switch is simply a variation of the basic single-pole switch. Its unique wiring means that you can control a ceiling light and other fixtures from two locations in the same room. For instance, in a large room, or hallway, you can install three-way switches at both ends for convenience.
3-way switches can be a common fixture in some homes, particularly those with multiple floors when homeowners want to control lighting around a hallway or set of stairs. If you don't have 3-way switches already installed in your home, then you may be tempted to try installing them yourself.
While the installation of three-way switches might not be as dangerous as some other electrical projects out there, it's worth noting that any kind of specialist alteration in your home should probably be handled by a professional. In this article, we're going to introduce you to everything you need to know about three-way switches and the things that might go wrong if you attempt to install one yourself.
Wiring a 3 Way Light Switch and Screw Terminals
Importantly, changing a standard switch for a three-way switch isn't necessarily a straight-forward process. This is because many aspects of the three-way switch can differ drastically from the standard pole switch. If you examine one of these devices, you'll notice that the body is much larger than a single-pole switch. Additionally, the switch toggle lever doesn't come with the on/off markings present on a single-pole switch.
One of the biggest differences of all is apparent in the nature of the screw terminals on the switch. While standard switches come with dual terminals, one on either side in the switch, alongside a grounding terminal on the metal strap, three-way switches feature an additional terminal. This extra terminal is darker in color than the other terminals, and it's known as the "common connection" aspect of the switch.
Depending on the location of your switch in your full circuit layout, the purpose of the extra connection will be to either facilitate the movement of the current from the power source or move the current from one switch onto the light fixture. The other two terminals on the body will be used to connect the wires that run between the three-way switches. These are "traveler terminals", and the wires that run between them are called "traveler wires".
In a typical circuit, traveler wires come with red and black insulation, and they allow electrical currents to move seamlessly between switches. They can also interrupt the circuit flow to help turn the light fixture off. When light fixtures are on, the power may flow through the red or black wire depending on the position of the toggle lever.
Wiring a 3 Way Light Switch and Wire Connections
Another important issue to note is that three-way switches come with differing connection methods depending on the switch brand. You may find that there are also several methods of wire connection available. All switches come with terminals on the sides, but some come with slots that allow you to slide the wire into them more easily.
Another common feature of three-way switches is the "quick mount" slots that exist alongside screw terminals to hold the wires steady. Though these elements might make mounting your own three-way switch more convenient to some extent, they can also be less secure when it comes to ensuring a steady current throughout your house. Professional electricians typically use screw connections because they rarely come loose.
Why Wiring a 3 Way Light Switch is So Tricky
Wiring a 3-way light switch can be a difficult process, particularly for DIYers who are attempting the process with little to no electrical knowledge. One of the most common problems that homeowners face when tackling this project themselves, is improper wiring, which happens when the circuit wires are connected to the wrong screw terminals.
It's incredibly easy to accidentally confuse the wiring of a three-way switch when you're performing a replacement at home. That's because there can be significant differences between older and newer wiring systems. Older wiring systems can look different in newer installations, and the best way to prevent problems is to take the time to mark wires before you remove anything from the old switch. The wire connected to the common screw terminal is the most important one to look at, as it must always be connected to the terminal screw that's darkest in shade.
It might also be helpful to simply remove and reconnect one wire at a time when you're replacing a switch. This makes it easier to ensure that you're wiring the new switch correctly. However, this solution isn't effective if you're attempting to replace an old standard switch with a new three-way switch. In this case, the best thing you can do is turn to a professional for help.
Installing a 3-Way Switch: It's not as Simple as You Think
Many homeowners consider the installation of a three-way switch to be one of the simplest home-improvement projects out there. However, it can actually be quite complicated, and even dangerous if you don't have the right know-how. For instance, you'll need to make sure that you turn off the right circuit on your electrical panel before you begin, or you could end up putting yourself in serious danger by interacting with live wires.
Some experts even recommend installing a secondary electrical box for the three-way switches that you create or replacing an existing switch box with a larger one to ensure that you can accommodate the additional wiring involved. Some of the other common problems you'll need to address include:
Always Get Professional Assistance
We're living in a world where many people are struggling to find ways to save money wherever possible. However, when it comes to protecting your family and your home, it's important to ensure that frugality doesn't mean compromising on safety. Just because something might look easy to repair or exchange at a glance doesn't necessarily mean it is.
Even if you enjoy doing the work in your own home, you should only ever tackle an electrical project if you have the skills, the tools, and the background knowledge to ensure that you won't make a costly mistake. Unlike some other home improvement projects like hanging a shelf or changing the color of your walls, altering the wiring in your property can have serious and even lethal complications when something goes wrong. In fact, some of the most common issues of improper electrical work include:
Forget the hassle, and hand the issue over to a Missoula professional instead.