Frequently Asked Electrical Questions

Q. I’ve got an electrical breaker that keeps tripping. Can I just pop in a new breaker provided the numbers on it match the old breaker?

A. Your tripping breaker is doing just what it is designed to do. It is protecting your home by terminating the flow of electricity in a specific circuit, warning you of a problem with your electrical system. Occasionally electrical breakers do need to be replaced as they will wear out just like anything else in your home, but the tripping breaker may only be a symptom of a problem elsewhere in your electrical system. Using specialized tools, our licensed electrical contractor will be able to identify where the problem originates and then correct it. You have the peace of mind knowing the problem, and not just the symptom, has been addressed. Read more about breakers here.

Q. My electrical panel is making a buzzing sound and is quite warm to the touch, should I be concerned?

A. YES. Immediately reduce the load on your electrical system by turning off as many electrical appliances and lights as possible. Call an electrical contractor and explain your situation. Blue Crest Electric Ltd. can be reached at any of the numbers listed on our contact page. Read more information on Electrical Service Panel Safety here.

Q. How much is my electrical work going to cost? Can your electricians give me an estimate?

A. This is probably the #1 question on every client’s mind. When one of our electricians arrives on site, he will listen carefully as you describe your particular needs or problem. In many cases he will be able to present you with options that may save you time and money. After a careful assessment and a plan of action is decided upon, our electrician will use Straight Forward Pricing ™ to present you with the entire cost of your project, right down to the last penny. There are no hidden costs or unpleasant surprises at the end of the job. Guaranteed. Now, isn’t that much better than an estimate, which is really no more than a guess and usually results in much higher final costs anyway?

Q. How come your electricians don’t work on time and material?

A. We believe that all electricians should be up front with their pricing. Time and material pricing leaves you with no idea of the actual cost of the work that is being done until the job is finished. There is also a real advantage to the service company to send someone slow or inexperienced because the longer it takes to complete the job …. well, you get the idea. We use Straight Forward Pricing ™ which means you know the exact price before any work even begins.

Q. Why do you charge a dispatch fee when this other company said they would come out for free?

A. A successful business has to cover all the costs they incur on a daily basis or they will not be in business for very long. It is just not logical to believe that a service company is willing to pay a electrician’s labor, plus overhead, to come out to your home or office in a company owned vehicle for free, unless they plan to make up those costs in other ways on your invoice. Reasoning then follows that you may also be paying for a dispatch fee that the company was not able to claim because of a previously lost sale. At Blue Crest Electric Ltd. we are up front about all our costs. We believe in full disclosure and do not hide our dispatch fee in your invoice where you may not recognize it.

Q. I own a condo on the third floor of a five-story building. As I have neither basement nor attic space to work with, can I still install additional lighting in my home?

A. Proper lighting makes a huge difference in making a space more enjoyable to use. Relying on years of experience and some pretty sophisticated and specialized tools, our electricians are experts in finding ways to bring power to difficult locations and can also present you with various lighting options.

Q. My cousin/brother-in-law/neighbour is a certified electrician who has agreed to do some electrical work as a favour to me. Are there legal ramifications to consider?

A. While it may make sense to accept this kind of favour for some home renovation work, we strongly recommend you call an electrical contractor for repairs to your electrical system. Unlike a certified electrician, a contractor licensed with the BC Safety Authority is bonded and must carry insurance policies that will protect you should anything go wrong. He is able to purchase the necessary permits which means the work is regulated and inspected. Most electrical alterations to your home, without a permit, are illegal and may jeopardize your home insurance policy or affect its resale value, not to mention your family’s safety. If you happen to live in an apartment or strata complex you must also abide by strata rules which prohibit any electrical work be done by anyone other than an electrical contractor. After all, anything that puts you at  risk will also affect all your neighbours. Perhaps your cousin would consider helping you paint.

Q. I have just purchased a new hot tub. Can I hook it up myself and can my existing electrical panel handle the additional load?

A. The hot tub is a popular choice for homeowners who want to create a backyard oasis. Correctly installed, this addition is a welcome retreat at the end of a busy day. Incorrect wiring can spell disaster, as water, electricity and naked people are not compatible elements. This is why we strongly urge you to call in a trained professional for this installation. One of our electricians will do a load calculation using the Canadian Electrical Code to check if upgrading your panel is even required and make the necessary connections for you. Your new hot tub should give you years of safe and worry free enjoyment.

Q. Do I really need surge protection for my house? Isn’t that little bar where my computer is plugged into enough?

A. A careful assessment of your home may reveal that you own a lot more sensitive electronic equipment than you first realized. It costs approximately $8,000 to $10,000 to replace the electronic equipment in the average BC home. This amount can more than double if you have invested in a sophisticated entertainment system, newer appliances, or if you work from a home office. A Blue Crest electrician can advise you on how you can protect your investment from most power surges, spikes and voltage impulses that are more common than you realize. A properly sized surge protector for your whole house can save you thousands of dollars through a single incident. Read more information on Surge Protection here.

Q. What’s the big deal about aluminum wiring?

A. Aluminum wiring was used extensively in homes built from 1960 to the late 1970’s because it was much cheaper than copper, even though copper is a superior product as it is a better conductor of electricity. It was later discovered that aluminum presents problems that copper does not. Aluminum tends to oxidize, causing over heating and eventually failure at the termination points. Aluminum is not as resilient as copper and also has a higher rate of expansion, which can result in loose connections, arcing, melting and possibly fire. Insurance companies are wary of homes with aluminum wiring and most require electrical modifications or complete rewiring to reduce the risk of fire. Each home is wired differently and must be assessed by an electrician on an individual basis to determine the best and safest solution. We can help you with this, just call our office at any of the numbers on the upper right hand side and set up an appointment for a consultation to discuss your options. Read more about Aluminum Wiring here.

Q. My home still has the original Knob & Tube wiring. Is this a concern?

A. If your home has this method of wiring it means it was likely installed well over 60 years ago to meet the requirements at that time. Our electrician’s experience has shown that this wiring method leaves much to be desired given the increased demands on today’s average electrical system. Deteriorated wires, cracked or missing insulation, devices that are making poor connection because they are loose and not CSA approved, all present serious safety concerns. Subsequent modifications done by amateurs have often compounded the risks. Though the thought of rewiring your home may seem daunting, it is an investment that adds considerable value to your home, will reduce your insurance premiums and provide you with the peace of mind knowing you have addressed this definite fire hazard. You can live safely and worry free in your charming character home for many, many years. Call Blue Crest Electric Ltd. and we will be happy to arrange for an assessment. Read more about Knob & Tube Wiring here.