Indianapolis area electrician answers home wiring questions
Who we talked to
Bill Ellison, owner
Ellison Electric Inc.
1918 W. Declaration Drive
Ten years after becoming a master electrician in 1989, Bill Ellison decided to start his own business. "I knew if I could just respond to people's needs, people would start calling me for work — and they did," Ellison says. Since then, Ellison company's work has earned Angie's List members' satisfaction with an overall "A" rating.
What are some signs your home may not be adequately wired?
"The first thing would be if your home's outlets are made for two prongs instead of three prongs. Homes built after 1970 should have three-prong outlets, and homes built after 1990 should have three-prong ground fault interrupter outlets. Three-prong outlets protect you from shocks because they're grounded, which most modern appliances require. GFI outlets will detect interruptions in the ground and shut down to protect you from shocks from things like moisture."
What do you do to upgrade a home's electrical system?
"If you buy a new TV or a new computer and need a new GFI outlet, installing one is a simple fix. We'll just change out the outlet and install a new circuit for that receptacle. We'll also take a look at the home's main panel, which will tell us what's going on with the rest of the house and if the system has been upgraded. If the panel's in bad shape, it's likely the rest of the wiring isn't good either. Replacing just the panel can cost anywhere from $1,200 to $1,800 and takes about four to eight hours. Rewiring a whole house takes days and runs from $8,000 to $15,000 for a 1,500- to 3,000-square-foot house. Any electrical contractor you hire should be licensed. A permit is usually required in most counties and from the power company any time you're replacing a home's main electrical equipment or doing a significant amount of rewiring. The cost of the permit is included in our bill."
How often should homeowners have their electrical systems inspected?
"I would say homeowners should have their systems professionally inspected every five years. But I would also make sure that at the first sign of a problem, like lights flickering or an outlet sparking, don't wait — call an electrician. Homeowners should also test their home's GFI outlets using the test/reset button at least twice a year."
What can homeowners do as far as electrical safety?
"Always make sure your panel's breaker fuses are the right size and type. Using the wrong fuse can overload the circuit, which can melt through the wiring and cause a fire. And I recommend people use surge protectors. A $50 surge protector is worth the money if it means your new flat-screen TV or computer doesn't get fried by a power surge."