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!