The Importance Of Choosing A Licensed Electrician
Licensed versus unlicensed contractors
Electricity is priceless to us. Quite simply, our lives as we know them would be impossible. Think back to the early 1900's for an idea of what things could still very easily be like.
However, like most epic scientific discoveries, it is a double edged sword and can have a sinister side if not handled with care and respect that nature demands. Electricity is no less volatile than tinkering with sub atomic particles or burning fossil fuels. In fact, you can find an article almost every day, reporting structure fires that are a result of improper handling of electricity, either by the occupants or under-trained persons performing electrical work, or more surprisingly AC repair. I've linked to no less than three recent articles alone in this post about it, all reported on Monday August 26th 2013!
Live By The Code, & Because Of It
Municipal codes and enforcement are in place around the country, primarily used to protect the city's building's inhabitants from unsafe, and in some cases, deadly practices. In Austin, Round Rock, Georgetown, Cedar Park, San Antonio, Temple and the rest of the Central Texas area, electrical codes are used to bring a uniform code of safety standards to our buildings, both commercial and residential. These standards cover everything from the type of wire needed to the type of connections each junction requires. They are used for YOUR protection and this is why the State of Texas requires electricians to be licensed and trained before performing electrical installations or repairs. In case you missed it we covered how to look up your contractor on the Texas Dept of Licensing & Regulation's website here.
A Hard Lesson
Take this house fire that recently occurred in South Austin for example. According to the report it happened due to faulty wiring at the air conditioning unit. Ouch. It just so happens that HVAC technicians are also required to be licensed through the State of Texas. Again this licensing is at the end of the day for YOUR protection. As a result of this poor wiring, it took no less than 44 firefighters to put out this blaze and most of the house was un-salvageable. This family, who was fortunately not at home during the blaze, lost pretty much everything because of ONE CARELESS REPAIR. Now a litigious mind may factor in insurance and pursuit of the contractor, and assume some compensation will ensue, but who knows if the repair was even performed by a licensed individual? Does the family have any recourse if they did not hire a reputable company? Double ouch.
With the increase in online retailing, devices you may find available could be produced with substandard components, or in factories that aren't regulated as strictly as US manufacturers might be. When you purchase a new electrical device, never assume it has been tested under a wide range of uses or circumstances. Always look for the translucent or silvery "UL" tag. This indicates that the device has been rigorously tested by the Underwriters Laboratory and contains special safety features to keep the device from overloading, short circuiting, and possibly causing fire and damage to your home and/or electronics.
From the UL Site: "UL Standards are used to assess products; test components, materials, systems and performance; and evaluate environmentally sustainable products, renewable energies, food and water products, recycling systems and other innovative technologies. UL Standards development covers more than just products; it also includes testing of systems and services. And, while we're widely known for our work with safety standards, UL develops a wide variety of standards to measure and validate performance, environmental health and sustainability."
So do yourself a favor, look for the UL tag when shopping for devices. It could mean more than you know. Safety should not be taken for granted, nor at face value.
With our electrical grid in what seems to be a perpetual danger of collapse, it is our responsibility to use electricity wisely, safely, and efficiently. This means thinking about how we interact with electricity on a daily basis, considering not only our immediate consumption needs, but our future access to it as well. By hiring a licensed electrician, or HVAC technician, you are ensuring your electrical system is operating efficiently and safely. This translates into a responsible approach to energy usage, and oh by the way it's also the smart choice if you want to avoid an electrical fire.
Roy Gomez | Master Electrician |Texas Electrical Services
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