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Frequently Asked Electrical Questions

Electrical Repairs

What does an electrician fix?

While it depends on the electrician you choose, most electricians can fix almost any electrical problem you have. From faulty outlets to major electrical panel repairs, a good electrician should be able to fix or replace almost any electrical work in your home.

How much should electrical repairs cost?

The cost of your electrical repairs will vary greatly depending on the size of the job and how long it takes. According to Home Guide, the national average cost for repairing small items, such as outlets, switches and light fixtures, is $280. Major repairs can be thousands of dollars.

At Benchmark, we believe in transparent pricing from the beginning. If you get a quote from another electrician and feel like you’re being duped, get a second quote.

Electrical Installation

What is electrical installation?

Essentially, an electrical installation is when you install new electrical equipment or fixtures in your home. This happens often in older homes (no one can survive with only one outlet in each room anymore), but it’s also common for homeowners who want to make updates. Electrical installation can include the installation of:

  • Circuits
  • Lighting
  • Outlets
  • Interior and exterior ceiling fans
  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Flat-screen TVs
  • Bath exhaust fans
  • Doorbells
  • Electric vehicle chargers
  • Light switches

Ceiling Fan Installation

Can I install a ceiling fan myself?

While ceiling fan installation is certainly doable for avid DIYers, the best results will come from an electrician. When you hire a professional electrician to install a ceiling fan, they will easily be able to recommend the best location and ensure that the fixture is installed correctly. If there was never a light or other ceiling fan in the room before, the job requires much more work. Properly anchoring and wiring a ceiling fan is essential, and it’s best done by a professional.

How much does it cost to have someone install a ceiling fan?

Depending on the cost of parts and labor — and how expensive the fan itself is — Home Guide estimates that ceiling fan installation costs $150-$350. However, the cost can be higher if you’re looking to buy an intricate ceiling fan.

Can I install a ceiling fan where a light fixture is?

While installing a ceiling fan in place of an existing light fixture is generally much easier than installing one from scratch, it’s still a job best done by an electrician unless you have experience with electrical work. It can be a complicated process, and you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that the new ceiling fan was installed correctly. At Benchmark, we also offer five-year warranties on all of our electrical services. If something goes wrong, we’ll fix it.

Smoke Detector Service

How often should a smoke detector be serviced?

Smoke detectors are relatively low-maintenance equipment. Once installed, you shouldn’t need to do more than check the batteries once a month and replace them every one to two years. Hardwired smoke detectors pull power from your electrical system, so you won’t have to check their backup batteries as often. If you suspect that your smoke alarm isn’t working properly, have it inspected.

Where should I place smoke detectors?

Smoke detectors should be placed inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home. Smoke alarms in kitchens should be at least 10 feet away from the cooking areas to minimize false alarms. If a level of your house doesn’t have bedrooms, install a smoke detector in the living area and/or at the bottom of the stairway. Smoke detectors should be mounted on the ceiling or high on the wall, as smoke rises.

Why is my smoke detector chirping?

If one or more of your smoke detectors is chirping or beeping, it’s not the actual alarm. This happens when the battery needs to be replaced, both in hardwired and battery smoke detectors. Replace the battery and reset the detector to clear the error, and it should stop chirping.

EV Charger Installation

Can I install an EV charger at home?

Yes! In fact, it’s pretty much essential that you have an EV charger at home if you have an electric car. Benchmark Electrical Services has years of experience installing residential EV chargers. Learn more about our installation services on our website.

How much does it cost to install an EV charger?

The cost of installing a home charging station depends largely on the type of charger you want to install. Installing a Level 1 charger means you can plug it right into a normal, three-prong wall outlet. However, Level 2 chargers provide a faster charge with higher voltage, so more alterations to your electrical system must be made to accommodate it. We recommend visiting your car manufacturer’s website for an average installation cost.

Should I charge my electric car every night?

It depends. Most people with regular driving habits drive less than 50 miles each day, while electric cars can drive up to 200 miles on a single charge (check your vehicle’s specs). If you know that you’ll only be driving to and from work each day, you can go for several days without charging your car. However, if your driving habits are unpredictable or you’re planning to drive more than usual, it’s safer to have your car fully charged before then.

Can I plug my electric car into a regular outlet?

Yes. Level 1 chargers and home charging stations can be plugged into a 120V, three-pronged outlet, just like your phone or computer. Using a Level 1 charger, a fully depleted EV battery will take up to 12 hours to fully charge. If you need your car to charge faster than that, we recommend a Level 2 charging station.

Outlet and Switch Repair

What is a GFCI outlet?

A GFCI outlet is an outlet that prevents serious shock injuries and reduces the risk of electrical fire by cutting off power to the circuit when it senses imbalance or excessive current flow. For example, if it gets wet, the GFCI outlet will “trip.” This is why GFCI outlets are required in kitchens, bathrooms, outside and in other rooms with water use. You may recognize a room with GFCI outlets if you see an outlet with two button-like switches on it. This outlet can control just itself or a circuit of all of the outlets in the room.

Why did my outlet suddenly stop working?

Your outlets may suddenly stop working for a couple of reasons:

Tripped GFCI Outlet: If you’re in a room that requires GFCI outlets (kitchen, bathroom, etc.), your outlet may have tripped, or cut off power to the circuit due to potentially dangerous current flow. Usually, one GFCI outlet controls all of the outlets in the room. Press the reset button on the GFCI outlet. If it pops each time you reset it, there could be a dangerous current running through the circuit.

Tripped Circuit Breaker: When a circuit gets overloaded, the circuit breaker trips and cuts off power to prevent damage. Especially if multiple outlets aren’t working, unplug any devices you’re worried about and go check your electrical panel. If the circuit labeled for outlets is tripped, you’ll notice that it’s flipped in the “off” position or looks relatively normal but feels a little loose. Reset it to restore power.

If neither of these processes restores power to your outlet, the outlet itself may have a poor electrical connection or be broken. Call a professional electrician to investigate further, and don’t try to use the outlet until it’s fixed.

What causes a light switch to stop working?

If you’ve already changed the lightbulb but a light switch isn’t working, the most common cause is a tripped circuit breaker. Check your circuit breaker and reset it if it’s tripped. If you hear a “pop” every time you flip the switch, however, the switch is causing a blown fuse. This means there’s either a short circuit or a loose wire. Contact a professional electrician if this occurs to ensure the issue is safely repaired.

Smart Home Installation

Is a smart home worth the money?

If you’re considering installing smart home equipment such as Bluetooth lighting, a smart thermostat or a smart doorbell/security system, weighing the cost is inevitable. While smart home equipment can be pricey, the result is a more convenient home that actively addresses problems you encounter regularly. Smart home technology can even make your home more energy-efficient and save you money. If this is something you value, then installing a smart home is likely worth the cost.

What is a smart home hub?

Hubs are small devices that plug into your router and act as the brains of your smart home. These devices interact with the smart technology around your home, connecting them to the internet and even to each other. This allows you to program smart devices to interact with each other.

Do I need a hub for my smart home?

Not necessarily. Most smart technology can now be controlled via an app on your phone. For example, Nest’s entire collection of smart devices can be controlled via the Nest app. However, smart hubs allow you to connect different smart devices to each other. For example, you can program smart lights to turn on when your smart alarm system detects movement on your porch. This added versatility is a must for some.

Does having a smart home increase value?

Yes. Having a smart home adds to your home’s market value. Compared to similar homes without smart technology, smart homes are generally sold for higher prices and are easier to sell.

Do smart homes save you money?

Yes! While some smart devices are mainly used to make your life easier, many of them are also meant to save you money. Smart thermostats and lighting make your home more energy-efficient, which reduces your energy bills. For example, the Nest Learning Thermostat learns your habits and tailors your heating and cooling to save money by not working as hard when you’re not at home. If you accidentally leave a light on and will be away from home for a while, your smart lighting may enable you to turn the light off remotely, preventing it from wasting energy.

Recessed Lighting

Is recessed lighting outdated?

Recessed lighting is timeless. However, finishes and sizes change in popularity with time. Used properly, recessed lighting is a sleek, functional lighting solution that blends well with your home’s style regardless of what it is. Benchmark Electrical Services can help you find the perfect recessed lighting style to fit your needs.

Do I need an electrician to install recessed lighting?

Yes. Did you know that altering the electrical wiring of your home requires a permit? Adding recessed lighting is also a complicated process that should be done by professionals. A licensed electrician will easily be able to help you decide how many lights you’ll need and where to place them, and they’ll be able to install them correctly without affecting the rest of your home’s electrical system.

Can you add recessed lighting to an existing ceiling?

Yes, you can. Recessed lighting can be installed via access from below the ceiling rather than from the top in the attic. This is done with a specific kind of electrical box called remodeling recessed light housing.

Outdoor Landscape Lighting

How much does it cost to install outdoor landscape lighting?

According to Home Advisor, outdoor landscape lighting installation costs $2,000-$4,500. However, the cost depends on the amount of time it will take, how much lighting you’re installing, the type of lighting and the quality of the electrician. 

Why is outdoor lighting so expensive?

Outdoor lighting tends to be significantly more expensive than indoor electrical equipment. This is because everything, from the light fixtures to the wiring, must be durable enough to last for a long time outside. They must be waterproof and difficult to break. With outdoor lighting, you pay more but get high quality in return.

How deep do you bury landscape wire?

According to the electric code, landscape wiring installed underground should be buried six inches deep. Most landscape lighting, however, is low-voltage wire and is installed beneath mulch in landscape areas.

Electrical Panels

How long does an electrical panel last?

An electrical panel’s lifespan is 25-40 years. However, many homeowners find themselves upgrading their electrical panels to have a higher electrical capacity as technology in the home increases. You may need to replace your electrical panel if:

  • There’s a burning smell
  • Breakers trip frequently
  • It uses fuses instead of circuit breakers
  • The panel is warm or hot when touched
  • It’s visibly damaged or rusty
  • The panel buzzes or hisses
  • Lights dim or flicker when you plug something in or run an appliance

Additionally, you may want to upgrade your panel if you always seem to need more outlets or you recently added a large appliance or are planning to do so.

How much does it cost to replace an electrical panel?

The price varies depending on the amperage, or how strong you want the current to be, and whether or not any rewiring or relocating has to be done. Consult with a professional electrician to determine the best plan for your electrical needs.

What is electrical load?

The electrical load, in the context of your home, is how much electricity your home’s electrical system can use or may need. The load takes into account every electric appliance in your home, from outlets and lights to the dishwasher and HVAC system. 

When wiring your home, electricians do something called “balancing the load.” Simply put, your electric panel has two sides, and dividing circuits (and electricity use) between the two sides keeps it balanced. If you use too many appliances that are wired to one side at once, the load is unbalanced and potentially problematic. 

The intricacy of working with an electrical panel is the reason it’s so important for a licensed electrician to repair, upgrade or replace yours. To avoid major problems down the road, always call a professional when it comes to your electrical panel.

Home Surge Protection

What is surge protection?

Lightning and other potential damage can disrupt the flow of current through power lines, sending a surge of electricity into your home called a power surge. Surge protectors are devices that sense when a surge of electricity above the acceptable amount occurs and divert the power back into the outlet’s grounding wire. This keeps the excess power from damaging appliances, laptops and other plugged-in devices.

Do whole-house surge protectors really work?

Yes! We wouldn’t sell you any product that isn’t effective. Just like a small surge protector in your home keeps power surges from frying your laptop or coffee maker, a whole-home surge protector is installed at your power line and keeps power surges from entering your home at all. This protects all of your appliances and gadgets at the same time.

Is a whole-home surge protector worth the money?

Not only does whole-home surge protection save the cost and strain of replacing appliances unexpectedly, but it also could qualify you for discounts from your insurance company. This way, you keep your computer and other sensitive appliances safe and reap potential discounts at the same time!

Circuit Installation

Do I need to install a new electrical circuit?

As the amount of technology we use in our homes increases, so does the amount of electricity we use. If you’ve recently added one or more major appliances to your home or are planning to, adding circuits is a good option. This is because using too many appliances on the same circuit can cause the circuit breaker to trip due to potential damage. 

In a time where there always seems to be one more new appliance in our homes, taking the time to keep your home’s electrical load balanced with new circuits is important.

What is a dedicated circuit?

A dedicated circuit is a circuit used for high-power appliances like HVAC systems, refrigerators and dishwashers. These appliances are used often (sometimes continuously) and require much more power than something like your lights. The dedicated circuit means that only one appliance is connected to it, keeping it from tripping the breakers and interfering with other appliances. You may want a dedicated circuit if you’ve noticed frequent breaker tips when you use one or more of your larger appliances at once.

How much does it cost to install a new electrical circuit?

The cost varies depending on the type of outlet and how many you want to install.

Electrical Safety Inspection

What is an electrical safety inspection?

The goal of an electrical inspection is to check for potential safety hazards such as faulty wiring and overloaded circuits. Not only could poor electrical work be inconvenient in the future, but it can also damage your home’s appliances and even cause an electrical fire. You should have an electrical safety inspection done when:

  • Purchasing a home
  • Adding an appliance
  • A home is over 40 years old
  • Making major changes to the home

What happens if you fail an electrical inspection?

If your home fails an electrical inspection, you need to have the problems corrected by a licensed electrician. Once the previous issues are up to code, you can schedule a re-inspection to check that they have been repaired properly. If you have your inspection done by a licensed electrical company like Benchmark Electrical Services, you can handle the entire inspection and repair process at once, making it much easier.

General home electric issues or concerns

How much do electricians cost per hour?

When you hire an electrician, the cost of electrical work includes the cost of the electrician’s labor. The general range for an electrician’s cost per hour is $150-$250. This may seem steep, but a licensed electrician has many valuable skills. Though it might be tempting to hire a contractor who isn’t licensed for electrical work so you don’t have to pay as much, you’ll risk poor, potentially dangerous work.