How to Find and Hire an Electrician

It’s easy to accept electricity as a given. Electricity should be available 24 hours per day. Many of our daily tasks are dependent on the invisible movement electrons. It is easy to see the importance of electricity when there is a malfunction or power cut that causes a shock, fire or other disturbance.

Older houses are more susceptible to electrical problems. These older houses are more likely to have electrical problems because they are less powerful and require 60amp or 100amp service, rather than the 200amp service that modern houses have. Common problems include ungrounded circuits, missing or damaged wiring, and circuits that are controlled with older-fashioned fuse instead of modern circuit breakers.

The reliability and safety of modern electrical components is a guarantee. They also provide long-lasting performance. The National Electrical Code outlines the strict standards for electrical work in new and renovated constructions.

When evaluating residential electrical work, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of electrical terminology.

Basic electrical terms

Current is the flow of electricity through a conductor (electric wire) or other material capable of conducting current. As the type of current, your electric utility supplies alternating electricity. Some devices, like laptops and cordless phones, will require plug-in adapters that convert AC to DC.

There are many methods to measure electricity. Amperes, also known as amps or amps, are used to measure current intensity. This is similar in function to measuring the volume water being pumped through pipes. It is often described as the maximum amount of electricity that a home has access to (for example 200amps). Voltage is the power that is “pumping” electricity through a conductor. Watts refers to the amount of electrical power that is used in a circuit.

SAFETY ALERT: Electric work can, unlike other aspects in remodeling and construction, cause serious injuries if it is not done correctly. Neglecting to properly install electrical equipment can result in severe shock, electrocution, or even fire. If you have any questions about wiring, a licensed electrician in papatoetoe will be able to help.

The Basic Elements of Electric Residential Wiring and Their Functions

To get a better understanding about electricity, it is a good idea trace the current route through your street. A service mast runs along one side of many houses. This is where the power lines enter the house. The main power supply can be accessed via conduit, a hollow pipe that is buried underground. To record power consumption, the power lines run through a box. It then goes on to the main components as described below.

Main service panel

This large metal box with hinged cover is also known by the breakerbox. This is the place where all electricity is distributed in your house, regardless of its name. The main switch can be used to turn off or on all the power coming from the utility. You will also find individual circuit breakers (see the below) that regulate power to different circuits.

Sub panel

Some houses require sub panels to distribute electricity to multiple circuits. You could place a sub panel in a garage or pool house.

Cable to power an electric motor

Romex cable is the common name for electrical cables that are used in residential settings. This flexible plastic sheathing covers several wires and is non-metallic (NM) cable. Information such as wire gauge will be included on the outer sheathing. The sheathing can also be colored to aid in the identification and use wire gauge.

Romex cable for lighting circuits (white Sheathing) will be designated as NM14-2. This cable is light-gauge and can be used in 15amp circuits. The NM 12-2 (yellow insulation) is used to connect receptacles up to 20amp circuits. There are three types of wires found in Romex: a bareground, a wire covered with white insulation, and a black insulation. This is the hot wire.

There are many types of electrical cables that can be used with large appliances. These include clothes dryers, electric stoves, heating and cooling systems, and electric stoves. These designations refer to wire sizes that are larger than others, extra wires, and special uses like burial underground.

Older houses often have metal clad cables. This is also known as BX Cable. It is more challenging than plastic-sheathed cable, especially when you need to pull wires through holes in the studs or joists. This cable has become less popular in recent years. It can still be used to run electrical cables in exposed areas (against basement walls for example), where plastic-sheathed cable is prohibited.


Electrical codes allow the use of copper-clad, metal-clad cables in exposed areas. To run electrical wires from one end to another, it is common to use hollow tubing (conduit). For electrical conduit, you can choose between PVC and steel. Many fittings can be connected to service panels and fixture boxes.

Circuit breakers

A number of switches will control different electrical loads in the house from the service panel. A typical house will have multiple lighting circuits, several receptacle circuits, or outlets, as well as major appliances like the furnace, clothes drying, and water heating.

All circuit breakers can be manually switched at the panel if you need to disarm an electrical circuit. To turn off or trip potential safety hazards, these devices can be manually switched at a service panel. Circuit breakers trip when there is excessive current draw. Overheating or damage to wiring can lead to potential fire hazards.

A circuit breaker marked GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) will trip when current leakage is detected. This is a safety hazard that can occur when electrical wires become wet. A circuit breaker called an arc fault circuit interrupter, (AFCI), trips when there is sparking or overloading.

NOTE: Fuseboxes were slowly phased out in the 1960s to make way for circuit breakers-controlled electrical systems. It is crucial to replace an old fuse box with a circuit-breaker system as soon possible. This is important not only to comply with code but also for safety reasons.

Residential Electric Code Requirements

The electrical code outlines the locations and methods in which different types of breakers may be used. GFCI protection must be provided for receptacle circuits in bathrooms, kitchens, and garages. Because of the potential for spark detection circuitry to protect against electrical fires, many areas will require AFCI breakers.

Circuit breakers that feed receptacles are rated at 15 or 20amps. They will trip if the current exceeds their rating. 15amp breakers regulate lighting circuits. Your service panel will contain a limited number of “double pole” breakers that have higher amp ratings. These breakers can be used to control large appliances like clothes dryers and stoves.


These incandescent lightbulbs, which we grew up with, are almost gone. These lightbulbs have been replaced with LED (light emitting diode) and fluorescent lighting. It’s easy to see why. Inandescent light fixtures cannot match the efficiency of fluorescent and LED lights. Inandescent light bulbs can be less durable than fluorescent or LED lights. They will eventually have to be replaced. It is difficult to ignore the benefits of conserving energy and reducing your electric bills.

When remodeling an older house, lighting improvements are essential. These tips will help you with your home renovations. Make use of LED lights wherever possible. Ceilings below the attic space require recessed lights (aka cans), to be installed. This permits attic insulation to be directly connected to the fixture.

To prevent heat loss in winter, you can seal your attic with air sealing. You might consider adding dimmer switches in your lighting scheme. You can easily change the ambience of your living area by adjusting the light level, especially for ceiling-mounted lighting.

Smoke alarms

New houses must have these safety devices. These safety devices are also required for older houses. If carbon monoxide or smoking is detected, these alarms sound loudly. Every floor should have a CO (carbon Monoxide), detector.

Every bedroom should have a smoke alarm. A smoke alarm should also be placed outside of bedrooms. Consider buying an alarm unit that provides both smoke and fire protection. Although these alarms can be wired, most homeowners prefer to save time and use battery-powered units. When the batteries are low, the unit will sound an alarm to let you know that it’s time to change them.

Backup Power Supply

Many homeowners find themselves in power outages. Many homeowners have installed backup power systems to protect themselves from long-term outages. The most common backup power source is a home generator. You can use it to power your devices or connect to your main panel via a transfer switch.


Generators can be expensive. Generators are expensive. More power equals more money. A portable generator that produces up to 2000 watts (prices starting at $300) can power a refrigerator, a phone charger and a household lamp.

Larger mobile units, up to 1000 watts and rated up to 7500 watts, can provide electricity directly to your service panel via a switch. These units can power lights and appliances, as well as keeping important hardwired devices, such as a furnace, water pump, or air conditioner, running.

The largest generator type is the stationary generator. This generator is typically installed outdoors on a platform. The generators are approximately $5,000 in price and can be permanently connected to your main service panel. These generators also come with circuitry that turns the generator on automatically in the event it is cut.

SAFETY NOTE: Small generators are usually powered by gasoline. Larger models are usually powered by propane or natural gas. All models produce carbon monoxide and other harmful emissions. It is not recommended to use portable generators indoors. You should keep all fuel in a secure and safe place.

Photovoltaic Systems

You can harness the sun’s energy to generate electricity. This will allow you to save money and help the environment. For homeowners, government incentives may be available to offset the costs of installing a solar PV array.

It is possible to place PV panels on the roofs or ground of buildings using solar orientation. A PV system can generate electricity that can be used for many purposes. It can be connected to your main service panel to provide household electricity. If your PV system produces more electricity than you can use, your electric utility will be billed for excess electricity. If you live in a state that has net metering laws, your electric utility will have to pay for excess power.

An alternative option is to have the PV system store solar electricity in an external backup battery system. This allows you continue to use solar electricity after the sun sets. A combination of a PV system with battery backup can allow you to keep electricity service running in the event that there is a power outage. This is an alternative to using backup power from a generator.

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