Small Electrical Upgrades
Most of us have one or two small complaints about the wiring in our houses. Maybe that one room doesn’t have quite enough light, and you have to attempt to brighten it with temporary lamps. Maybe it’s that wall right beside the couch which would be the perfect spot for an outlet. Most of the time, these small annoyances end up getting pushed off, overlooked, or we find ways to work around them.
One of the largest reasons it can be daunting for a homeowner to call an electrician and ask them to fix this inconvenience is that the price for the upgrade can be hugely variable. Depending on existing wiring, ease of access, and documentation of prior electrical work, it could be a quick job for an experienced electrician, done in just a few hours, or an extensive undertaking which might include breaking down walls, adding new electrical circuits, or more.
Here are a few tips for evaluating whether or not it will be cost effective to add that extra outlet or light.
Is It Worth It?
First, do you know if there is an existing circuit the outlet can be installed into? If so, you are in luck. If there is a nearby circuit which is not running at capacity, a skilled electrician will likely be able to help you out relatively cheaply. Ideally, there should be documentation left by whoever did the most recent electrical work on the structure detailing what was done, and the current electrical layout. However, if you are looking to add a circuit to power something which will consume greater amounts of electricity (washing machine, other large appliances), you may not be able to tap into an existing circuit. These often require dedicated circuits to ensure that they always have enough power to function without causing a safety or reliability issue. If you expect that the outlet you want to add will have these more energy hungry appliances hooked up to it, it will likely cost more. However, in this situation, the cost is probably worth it to you. Having your large appliances where you want them and running safely will not only increase your at home comfort, but can also increase the value of your home.
In short, when looking to make an addition, the first major factor which decides cost will be how much of the existing electrical infrastructure you can borrow. If the work is already done, you shouldn’t have to pay for it again.
A second factor which can affect the price of a seemingly small electrical upgrade are any mitigating factors which might increase the overall difficulty of the job. This can include things like wiring which is difficult to access (perhaps requiring the opening of several walls). Other factors can be environmental. Outlets in bathrooms, out of doors, or facing other environmental considerations will likely require more work to ensure that they are safe and robust.
In short, no two electrical jobs will ever be exactly the same, and so it can be difficult to figure out how much work will need to be done. Thankfully, there are some things you can do to try to make sure that your electrical upgrades get done with as modest a price tag as is possible.
Plan And Combine
First, planning your electrical work around other major renovations is always the best thing to do if you know your electrical system needs some non-urgent work. If you are completely renovating an area, you may already be doing a lot of the work that would need to be done to upgrade an electrical system, such as opening walls and ceilings. This can also be a great time to have an electrical inspection done, especially if you want to get a quote on how much it would cost to do something. The more your electrician knows about your particular electrical layout, the more accurately they will be able to predict what will need to be done, and how long it will take So, even if you are not planning on having any electrical work done right now, it could very well be worth it to have an electrician come out and take a look. They might even have some suggestions for how to ensure that the system is easily upgradeable in the future should you decide at some future time that you want to add anything. This is absolutely one of those scenarios where a small investment here could end up saving you big in the long run.
If you are not planning on any major renovations in the relatively near future, or your electrical problem needs to be solved quickly, then call around and get a few opinions on the best way to fix it. At the end of the day though, make sure to find an electrician who you trust to do a quality job.