Most property owners in Vancouver understand the risks in handling electrical systems, which is why it’s important to hire a professional electrician.

Electricians can either be a licensed electrical contractor or a handyman with some skills in electrical work. The difference between these two is that the former has years of experience and is licensed while the second, while might seem like a good idea at the time, will likely cause more stress and money down the road.

So how do you know who to hire? Here’s a list of questions to ask an electrician:

1 – Are you a licensed Vancouver electrical contractor?

Some electricians are audacious enough to tell you upfront that they’re licensed, when in fact, they aren’t. Back up your question by asking your prospect electrician to show proof. An honest and reliable electrician will always willingly show his license. If your candidate refuses to show a license, it usually means one thing – he has nothing to show.

Electrical work is quite broad, and each service requires a different license. Ask the electrician if he is licensed and qualified to do design and installation. It’s the least you can do to be confident that you’re hiring the right contractor.

2 – Do you have proof of insurance?

Contractors tasked to carry out a home improvement project must be insured. This is non-negotiable. Accidents happen, even with the necessary precautions in place. If the contractor causes damage to your property or injures someone while doing his job, someone must cover the costs of repair and hospital bills. Liability insurance is one of the intangibles when hiring an electrician; like how you demand proof for licensing, ask your prospect for any proof of insurance. Anyone who can’t furnish a copy of their insurance policy must be scraped off your list.

3 – Can you provide a list of references?

As a potential customer, you have the right to demand a list of references before hiring a Vancouver electrician. Once you have that list, grab the phone, and make a call. The most impartial information (feedback) you’ll get is from someone who previously worked with the same Vancouver electrical contractor. Talking to them gives you an idea of what to expect. Don’t forget to ask if they were satisfied with the work performed by the electrician.

You can’t hire someone without knowing anything about their past work. After all, a competent and trustworthy electrician won’t hesitate to give you a list of references. Someone who refuses this request either has no experience or is hiding someone from their past projects.

4 – Do you work with Vancouver permits?

Some electrical jobs don’t require permits. However, you still want an electrician who’s willing to get the permit should the need for it comes. Opting to work with an electrical contractor who doesn’t want to deal with permits could cost you more. There’s an unwritten rule among electricians in Vancouver to pull permits on behalf of their clients. So, if the electrician tells you that it’s your job to obtain the permit, then look for someone else.

5 – Can you give me an estimate?

Experience, license, insurance, and excellent reputation are all intangibles, but your search doesn’t end once you come up with a shortlist of about three or four prospects. The next step is to get an estimate from the remaining candidates – you want to know if you can afford an electrical contractor before you hire one. Don’t waste your time on an outrageously expensive electrician, especially if the estimate is almost double to that of the other prospects. On the other hand, avoid hiring an electrician offering a quote that’s suspiciously lower than the average.

What you’re after here is a competitive and reasonable price. Electrical contractors who try to rip you off think that you’re never going to find out how much the project costs, so prove them wrong. Meanwhile, some charge below the average because they’re either desperate to get a project or aren’t experienced enough to get the job done.

10 Common Electrical Problems in Vancouver That Require an Electrician

Your Vancouver home, old or new, is filled with numerous components that make up a complex electrical system. This includes appliances, lights, wall switches, outlets, heating and air conditioners. These components are connected using wires which carry electrical current to power all of them.

You rely on your electrical system to work flawlessly, yet there will be times when it breaks down. Fortunately, most of these problems aren’t difficult to fix; but it doesn’t mean you’re up to the task.

Safety is paramount when handling any electrical work, which is why hiring a licensed and qualified electrician makes sense, regardless of how small the job is.

Pulling up this list of problems should give you a better idea of why you should phone a professional when something goes wrong with your system.

Here are ten common electrical problems in Vancouver that require an electrician:

1 – Circuit Breaker Frequently Trips

A circuit breaker is designed to manage the flow of electricity to a specific outlet or group of outlets. The device automatically shuts off when there’s an overload, protecting your appliances and preventing serious damage.

When this happens frequently, it could be caused by faulty wiring resulting in loose connections. Therefore, it’s essential to call an electrician to check for any faulty wiring or damaged components.

2 – Dim Lights

One of the most common electrical issues in a residential setting is dim lights. It usually means there’s a loose connection somewhere, a loose bulb socket, bad bulb, or corroded contacts. But, before you even think about troubleshooting yourself, remember that those sockets and loose connections have electricity flowing in them. So, you’re better off asking for help from a professional.

3 – Excessive Heat Emitted by Outlets

Lack of maintenance causes outlets to overheat, emitting excessive heat that poses a significant fire risk. There’s also the possibility that you’re dealing with faulty wiring and a loose connection. If you notice any outlet emitting excessive heat, call a licensed electrical contractor right away. The electrician will check for fire hazards, repairs or replace them if necessary. Their experience and training ensure your safety and eliminate the prospect of starting a fire or having someone injured.

4 – Overloaded Outlets

Improperly used outlets can cause overheating and pose a fire risk, emitting smoke and sparks. Several causes of overloaded outlets, including broken switches or wiring behind walls making the outlet live even when it’s not in use. An electrician will replace the faulty outlet to prevent any accidents.

Moreover, it’s important to never overload outlets even if there are no signs of trouble. If you notice that an outlet is being heavily used, then consider having a new one installed.

5 – Sparks Coming from Electrical Outlets

Electricity passing through an outlet is the same as a live wire, which means it should never be touched. If you notice sparks coming out of your outlets, unplug all appliances and try to reset the outlet. This usually happens because of worn-out internal parts that must be replaced by a professional. Unless you’re a licensed electrician yourself, then this job isn’t one of those DIYs you can do.

6 – Electrical Outlets Not Working

You may be facing a loose connection somewhere else in the system, which affects the flow of electricity to that outlet. For any partially functional outlets, you still must hire an electrician since it requires handling live wires.

Did you know that electrical outlets are more than just an opening with metal prongs? Instead, components inside the outlet must be checked because they’re a disaster waiting to happen if something is broken or loose.

7 – A Burning Smell

The smell of burning plastic is one of the tell-tale signs that your electrical system requires attention immediately. You might be dealing with faulty wiring and loose connections, but you also must check all appliances, light fixtures and their respective switches.

Don’t wait for a fire to start before you act. The moment you or anyone in the family smells something burning, immediately unplug the source and call an electrician. It isn’t your job to try and fix it – yours is to protect yourself and the rest of the family.

8 – Frequent Surges

Surges are a problem if you’re dealing with electronic devices, particularly electric appliances. The good news is that surges cause big problems only when they’re left unattended. You should invest in a surge protector for extra protection, but have a licensed electrician check your system first. Remember, frequent surges are a serious issue that must be addressed as soon as possible. Don’t let that problem linger, or you could end up with a much bigger, more expensive one.

9 – GFCI Receptacle Won’t Reset

If your ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacle doesn’t reset after processing, don’t try to fix it on your own. It’s a live wire that must be handled only by those with the right skills and training. Call an electrician immediately to identify what exactly is causing the malfunction before someone gets hurt, or your appliances are damaged.

10 – High Electrical Bill

Your Vancouver home electrical consumption depends on a handful of factors. Still, if bills are much higher than usual, you need to have a licensed electrician check for any problems causing the high usage. There are several reasons why your electricity bill has increased, i.e., faulty wiring, broken switches, and damaged appliances, etc. A qualified electrician helps you determine which one is causing your electrical system problems.

If you do any electrical work, make sure you turn off the power at the main breaker. If there’s a short circuit during repair and something sparks, then you could get electrocuted. It’s for this reason why it’s better to let the professionals handle any electrical issue.

But even the most experienced electrical contractor can’t put out a fire or save you from getting electrocuted. This means that you should be able to react quickly if an electrical problem is brought to your attention – don’t wait for any situation to worsen. The only reasonable response is to call a professional right before disaster hits.

Don’t Stress Yourself

There’s a lot to ask when hiring an electrician, but that’s because you don’t expect everyone to be competent and reliable. Don’t hesitate to ask these questions since you have all the right to do so. Throwing as many questions as possible sizes up your prospects; it shows how they’re willing to communicate with you. Electrical work comes with a ton of risks, including property damage and injury; so, you’re duty-bound to pick the right person to do the job.

If you have any questions give us a call at PTX Electric and we will be happy to help. We service Coquitlam, Vancouver, Burnaby and the rest of the Lower Mainland. Contact us today!