If you don’t give much thought to your home’s electrical system on a daily basis, you’re certainly not alone. Flipping on a light switch or turning on the television at the end of a long day is simply part of our everyday lives—until something goes amiss or your electricity bills start to skyrocket.
Electrical problems are inconvenient, but it’s important to remember that you should never try to troubleshoot or repair your home’s electrical system. When it’s done incorrectly, electrical work can be deadly, so always let the professionals take the lead.
Services Offered by Northern Virginia Electricians
Electricians in Northern Virginia are well equipped to take care of everything from light fixture installations to main panel and service upgrades. Be sure to also ask your electrician about additional, specialized services:
- Generator installation
- Data and audiovisual wiring
- Electric vehicle charger installation
- Pool, spa, and hot tub wiring
Electrical work must be done correctly and to code, so protect your investment in your home by only hiring an electrician who holds a current Virginia electrician’s license.
Electrical problems don’t improve with time (and, in fact, can have disastrous consequences if they’re not attended to promptly), so don’t be shy about calling in a pro to take a look if something is out of the ordinary.
Watch for these common signs that your electrical system may need attention:
- Circuit breakers, fuses, and/or GFCI devices that trip consistently (or that trip immediately upon being reset or replaced)
- Power surges or flickering lights when you turn on an appliance, such as a microwave, vacuum cleaner, toaster, or electric kettle
- Power outlets or light switches that are hot to the touch or spark, buzz, or smell odd
Circuit breakers, GFCI outlets, and other devices that are designed to stop a current are safety devices, so when they trip, it’s both a good and a bad sign. The good part is that the device works; the bad part is that something has gone amiss.
In many cases, a tripped breaker isn’t anything to panic about. Circuits do occasionally get overloaded, especially in the kitchen where there are lots of power-hungry appliances in use at the same time. That being said, if the same breaker trips all the time, or if the breaker immediately trips after being reset, a professional needs to take a look.
Signs of fluctuating current and outlets and switches that spark or feel hot are cause for an immediate call to an electrician. Problems with the amount of electricity in a circuit can lead to an electrical fire, so have a pro evaluate the situation for your peace of mind.
Electrical safety devices
There are a variety of electrical safety devices on the market today, and a few key products are now required by code in all new construction and renovations. If your home is older (as many homes in the Northern Virginia area are), you may be missing some important upgrades.
1. AFCI (arc-fault circuit interrupter) outlets and breakers. AFCI devices are an important part of preventing electrical fires. They work by stopping the flow of electrical current in a circuit when the device detects an electrical arc.
Electrical arcs occur when electricity passes between two conductive materials (in homes, this often happens between wires). Electrical arcs generate a lot of energy and heat, so they can start a fire quickly under the right circumstances.
Fortunately, AFCI devices are now required by the US National Electric Code (NEC) for all new construction and renovations. If your home was built prior to 1999, however, you’re likely missing AFCI devices altogether. Call your electrician to learn about your best options for getting your house protected.
2. GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlets. While AFCI devices stop electricity from escaping a circuit, GFCI outlets monitor the electrical system for changes in the amount of electricity running through a circuit. Too much current in a circuit can cause electric shock as well as overheated wires, so GFCI outlets shut down a circuit when they detect a current variance.
GFCI protection has been required since the 1970s, but because more recent versions of the NEC have expanded their use throughout a house, it’s a good idea to have a licensed electrician inspect your home to let you know if you need additional GFCI outlets.
3. Tamper-resistant receptacles (TRR). Tamper-resistant receptacles (also called outlets) are virtually indistinguishable from standard outlets, but TRRs are equipped with one important safety feature. While the outlet slots are open at all times on a standard outlet, TRRs have a spring-loaded plate that covers the outlet slots until equal pressure is applied to both openings at the same time.
TRRs play an important role in keeping small children safe at home. The current version of the NEC requires TRRs in all new construction and renovation; if your house has standard outlets, talk to your electrician about upgrading to TRRs.
The Best Picks for the Top Electrical Companies in Northern Virginia
Good home service providers can be hard to find, and electricians are no different. That’s why the survey team at Best Pick Reports contacts Northern Virginia homeowners each year to find the best electricians in your area.
All Best Pick companies are fully vetted on an annual basis for high-quality work and excellent customer service, and we verify all state-required licenses and insurance every year, too. Our intense company qualification process ensures that when we recommend a company, we’re recommending the best of the best. We’re proud to present our data in a clear, easy-to-navigate format.
We know that hiring a contractor can feel like a gamble sometimes, so we stand behind our Best Pick companies with the Best Pick Guarantee. Let a Northern Virginia Best Pick electrician show you how electrical work should be done—we guarantee you’ll be pleased with the experience from beginning to end!