As many homeowners are spending more time at home, it’s no surprise that home improvement projects are on the rise. With more projects being done, the Electrical Safety Authority is urging homeowners to be well informed and educated on the potential dangers involved in certain renovations. When it comes to any project dealing with electrical work, it should always be done by a licensed electrician. Did you know that unlicensed electrical work has been shown to be up to 4x faultier? This could result in injuries like shocks, burns, fires or even death.
In order to avoid the risks associated with home renovations and unsafe electrical work, the ESA is sharing what you need to know before you hire an electrician. Read through these tips before starting your next home improvement project.
1. Always Hire a Licensed Electrical Contracting Business
In Ontario, only a Licensed Electrical Contracting business can be hired to do electrical work in your home. No exceptions. Licensed Electrical Contracting businesses hire Master Electricians who manage the work, and Certified Electricians are permitted to perform electrical work as employees of a Licensed Electrical Contractor. Even if you’re using a general contractor or someone who subcontracts the electrical portion, the work must be completed by an electrical contractor licensed by ESA.
2. Know the Difference Between a Licensed Electrical Contractor and a Certified Electrician
A Licensed Electrical Contractor must provide you with a seven-digit licence number issued by ESA that always starts with the number seven. This ECRA/ESA licence number proves they can operate their electrical contracting business in Ontario. LEC businesses should prominently display their ECRA/ESA licence number on trucks, ads, quotes and contracts. You should always ask to see it and confirm it using ESA’s Contractor Look-Up Tool.
In Ontario, a certified electrician will have an Ontario College of Trades (OCOT) certification number after completing an electrical apprenticeship and successfully passing the Certificate of Qualification exam. An OCOT certification number is not the same as an ECRA/ESA-issued licence number and does not qualify that person to enter into a contract to perform electrical work. Once the OCOT certificate is obtained, the certified electrician can be employed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor where they can legally perform electrical work.
3. Plan the Electrical Layout
Throughout your renovation planning process, it’s critical you plan the electrical layout. You should always work with a Licensed Electrical Contractor on every renovation project to design a safe and functional electrical layout. Thinking about lighting and outlet placement ahead of time will ensure you have a well-lit space and safe electricity wherever you need it.
4. File a Notification of Work With ESA
Whenever you have electrical work done, with very limited exemptions, a notification of work (permit) to the Electrical Safety Authority must be filed by the party completing the work. This will ensure the electrical work will be completed correctly and will keep you and your family safe.
5. Electrical Work Must Meet Requirements
Once the electrical work for your reno has been completed, remember to confirm with the individual who filed the notification and completed the electrical work that they received an ESA Certificate of Acceptance. A Certificate of Acceptance ensures that any future electrical problems will be covered by your insurer, and you can rest easy knowing that all electrical components in your home were safely and properly installed.
6. Never DIY
DIY projects can be fun for homeowners, especially when adding the finishing touches to a reno. However, when it comes to electrical work, DIY is very dangerous. Electrical work that is done incorrectly can pose serious risks to you and your family, and only Licensed Electrical Contractors have the proper training and expertise to do the job right. Save your DIY skills for the finishes and leave the electrical work to the professionals.
Whether you’re updating the lighting in your bathroom or are installing new outlets, it is your responsibility as a homeowner to only hire a licensed electrician. Remember to ask for proof of proper licencing to ensure you are hiring someone who can safely do the work. As electrical work can be dangerous if done incorrectly, it’s always better to do it right the first time with the help of a licensed professional.