Common Electrician Scams

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Subject: electrician

A legitimate electrician will always show you whats wrong in your home before doing any work. If the voltage is 290 instead of 220 he will show you his meter reading. Estimates are not always free. If you need an estimate on installing new recessed lighting for instance, it might be free. If you dont have power in half your house and the electrician has to actually work, and troubleshoot the issue then what is free about it? The gas in the truck, tools, insurance, time, sweat? Does anyone else like to work for free? Watch out for scams, but in a reasonable way.


Subject: The Problem

So Say my house doesn't need EMERGENCY work done. Its just a couple of like to have projects like recessed lights in a room or a new outlet for a mounted TV. I don't want to pay for someone to come out to give me an estimate. $90 for an estimate is ridiculous but for these like to have projects anything but free estimate sounds like a trap to me.

Dan Kohn

Subject: A novel electrician scam

I own a small business, and recently encountered a new electrician scam. I asked an electrician for an estimate to make a number of repairs. While at my location, he said he would look at the main service entrance. Using his own volt-meter, he then reported that the entering voltage was 293 volts, when it should be no more than 220, and that needed to be repaired immediately. He called the local utility, who sent an emergency truck. They checked the entrance voltage at the pole, and said everything was normal.
Shortly thereafter the electrician sent me a bill for two hours of work to "check voltage and summon the utility to correct excess voltage at service entrance.". I verified with the utility that the voltage had been normal at all times, so the electrician has shown he is not trustworthy.

Gus Linja

Subject: Knob and Tube Residential wiring

I have done electrical wiring for several years till retirement. Although the NEC (National Electrical Codes) dos not outlaw Knob and tube wiring. In some local codes require that it be replaced with modern wiring methods.
In any case the NEC prohibits any new wiring in the K &T style. The major drawbacks of K &T wiring are; There is no ground wire, so most modern electronics are not protected and since the NEC doesn't allow using 3 prong electrical outlets with out the proper ground conductor, so using a 3 prong grounded power cord which is common for most modern electrical appliances and electronics can't be used safely. Then of course the old style wire doesn't have much protection such a an outer cover besides the insulation of each wire as is common with standard multi conductor cables. In most situations K & T wiring is also many years old and often some of the older insulation breaks down and can be come brittle and peel off, exposing the metal conductor creating a safety hazard. My opinion is that any K & T wiring inside wall or floors and can not be inspected should be disabled and replaced with modern methods of wiring as is required by the NEC.

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I second the original question (still unanswered). Speaking as someone who logged in today to try to find an attorney, I see this category as one that's exactly what I have my Angie's List membership for:

1. It's important that I find a good one
2. I'm not an expert enough to know myself who is a good one
3. The industry is full of advertisements and misinformation
4. I wish I knew what experiences other people have had

I don't care about lawns--I planted mine in clover and don't have to mow it. When I do need to mow I use a rotary Fiskars mower, which is great--or a scythe. That's right--a scythe (the European type, which is smaller, and it's very good exercise). Gas-powered mowers, chemical fertilizers and weed killers--all nasty stuff that gets into everyone's air, soil, and water. I'm sure my neighbor doesn't like my wildflowers, semi-wild pockets of fruit bushes, and unmown areas and yes, dandelions (I have 10 acres) but that's too bad. It's better habitat for wildlife, especially the pollinators on which our food supply depends. I think this obsession with the Great American Lawn is a waste of time and resources. Plant some food instead.

I'm not sure Angie et. al. want you to have a complete answer to this question. By re-subscribing at the Indiana State Fair in 2012, I think I paid $20.00 per year for a multi- year subscription. Maybe even less. At the other extreme--and I hope my memory isn't faulty about this--I think the price, for my area, for ONE year was an outrageous $70.00. And they debited me automatically without warning. I had to opt out of that automatic charge. I like Angie's List, but if some of the companies they monitor behaved the way they do in this respect, they'd be on some sort of Pages of Unhappiness. I'll be interested to see if this comment gets published or censored out of existence.

That's very difficult to answer without seeing the house. As one poster said, the prep is the most important part. On newer homes that don't have a lot of peeling paint, the prep can be very minimal even as low as a couple or a few hundred dollars for the prep labor.

On a 100 year old home with 12 coats of peeling paint on it, then the prep costs can be very high and can easily exceed 50% of the job's labor cost.

A 2100 sq ft two story home could easily cost $1000 just for the labor to prep for the paint job. That number could climb too. Throw in lots of caullking  or window glazing, and you could be talking a couple or a few hundred dollars more for labor.

Painting that home with one coat of paint and a different color on the trim could run roughly $1000 or more just for labor. Add a second coat  and that could cost close to another $1000 for labor.

For paint, you may need 20 gallons of paint. You can pay from $30-$70 for a gallon of good quality exterior paint. The manufacturer of the paint should be specified in any painting contract. Otherwise, the contractor could bid at a Sherwin-Williams $60 per gallon paint and then paint the house with $35 Valspar and pocket the difference. $25 dollars per gallon times 20 gallons? That's a pretty penny too.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is $2000 to $4000 and up, depending upon the amount of prep, the number of coats, the amount of trim, and the paint used.