When it come’s to your home’s electrical system you don’t want just anybody tinkering with the wires behind your walls.
We had the opportunity to speak to, Kathryn Chopp – the General Manager of Communications & Stakeholder Relations, with the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) – about the importance of hiring a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Here’s what she had to say:
Q: What is a Licensed Electrical Contractor (LEC)?
K: A Licensed Electrical Contractor is a business licensed by the Electrical Contractor Registration Agency/Electrical Safety Authority (ECRA/ESA). They are the only businesses in Ontario legally allowed to do electrical work in your home for hire. There are specific requirements that LECs must follow, including employing a designated Master Electrician and electricians who have their Certificate of Qualification from the Ontario College of Trades. There are also a series of other requirements related to insurance and other documentation.”
Q: How do you become an LEC?
K: To become a Licensed Electrical Contractor, an application must be submitted to ECRA/ESA. Once all of the eligibility requirements are met, an Electrical Contractor’s Licence will be issued. More information on the eligibility requirements can be found on our website at www.esasafe.com.
Q: When should a homeowner reach out to an LEC?
K: If you are hiring a business or an individual to do electrical work in your home, by law, they must be a Licensed Electrical Contractor. That is the case if you’re hiring them directly to do electrical work, or if you are relying on a General Contractor (GC), interior designer to hire the sub-trades.
It’s important that homeowners don’t simply assume their GC or designer is hiring a Licensed Electrical Contractor for the electrical work. As a homeowner, make sure to always ask for a Certificate of Inspection when the electrical work is complete. This is important for resale and insurance purposes, as well as peace of mind. Only a Licensed Electrical Contractor can provide you with an ESA Certificate of Inspection, and it is confirmation that the electrical work done in your home was completed according to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code.
Q: How can a homeowner confirm whether or not they’ve reached out to an LEC?
K: The Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) offers a look-up tool on www.esasafe.com that homeowners can use to verify whether or not their electrical contractor is licensed with ECRA/ESA, or to find a Licensed Electrical Contractor in their area. The tool allows homeowners to look up the company by name, licence number or postal code.
Q: Can homeowners do their own electrical work?
K: Electrical work is complicated, and ESA strongly recommends you hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor if electrical work is needed in your home. Homeowners are permitted to do electrical work in their own home, and by law they must take out a permit prior to doing the electrical work, so that the work is subject to inspection and review by the Electrical Safety Authority. This process is in place to keep you and your family safe from electrical shock or fire.
Q: When does an ESA permit need to be taken out and why does it need to be taken out?
K: Most electrical work in Ontario requires a permit from ESA. You must take out an electrical permit (also called an Application for Inspection) within 48 hours of when the electrical work starts. This means it is subject to inspection and review by ESA, a process that is in place for your safety, to ensure the work was completed according to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code.
Q: What is the benefit in hiring an LEC?
K: Electrical work is dangerous and is best left to a Licensed Electrical Contractor with the expertise, equipment and training to do the job safely and according to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. Hiring the wrong person can result in damage to the property, serious electrical injury or even loss of life.
All Licensed Electrical Contractors:
- are fully insured
- will arrange permits
- are qualified to perform the type of electrical work required
- can offer a Certificate of Inspection
- can provide references
Q: What is the ESA’s role in ensuring that a) electrical work is conducted safely and b) electrical work is conducted by a licensed electrical contractor?
K: As the guardian of electrical safety in Ontario, ESA engages in many activities to ensure electrical work is conducted safely in our province. This includes promoting electrical safety awareness, education and training; public awareness campaigns to emphasize the legal requirements to hire only a Licensed Electrical Contractor and encouraging homeowners to always ask for a Certificate of Inspection upon completion; and discipline and enforcement activities to help ensure electrical work meets Ontario Electrical Safety Code requirements and that proper permits are taken out.
ESA investigates all reports it receives related to concerns about electrical work. We aggressively pursue those who choose to work outside the law. If anyone is aware of electrical work being done outside the law, we ask that they report it to ESA immediately at 1-877-372-7233 – and they can do so confidentially.
Birnie HOME SAFE is a licensed electrical contractor committed to helping homeowners with all of their electrical needs. If you have any questions about your home’s electrical system and you want to take advantage of our no-fee preliminary assessment, drop us a line!