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20140102

2014 Pricing




I am a fully licensed, bonded and insured California C10 Electrical Contractor.  I have been a San Francisco electrician since 1987.    I do most all work with my own hands.


















"...A professional handles money and accounts very carefully..."


Service calls typically come to resolution or clear estimate in the first hour. Hourly rates are as follows:
  • Residential Service :$180 visit & 15 minute increments after
  • Commercial Service :$220 Call & 15 minute increments after
  • After 8p or emergency: Time *1.5
  • Minimum call: $100 minimum "no tools used"
  • Menu of typical prices 

    Allow some margin in appt times. I normally send an "in transit" text en route





20100602

+professional.wk

Are you a professional? Click here =)

20090210

San Francisco permit expediter

Bring your construction project into compliance with the San Francisco Department of building inspection


20081208

HOW OK

Q2. Under what condition can a two-wire receptacle be replaced with a three-wire receptacle, when no ground is available in the box?
A. Where no equipment bonding means exists in the outlet box, nongrounding-type receptacles can be replaced with [406.3(D)(3)]:

  • Another nongrounding-type receptacle.
  • A GFCI grounding-type receptacle marked "No Equipment Ground."
  • A grounding-type receptacle, if GFCI protected and marked "GFCI Protected" and "No Equipment Ground."
Basically, if you only have two wires in the box you will need to replace the outlet with a GFI















Note: GFCI protection functions properly on a 2-wire circuit without an equipment grounding (bonding) conductor, because the equipment grounding (bonding) conductor serves no role in the operation of the GFCI-protection device.

CAUTION: The permission to replace nongrounding-type receptacles with GFCI-protected grounding-type receptacles doesn't apply to new receptacle outlets that extend from an existing ungrounded outlet box. Once you add a receptacle outlet (branch-circuit extension), the receptacle must be of the grounding (bonding) type and it must have its grounding terminal grounded (bonded) to an effective ground-fault current path in accordance with 250.130(C).





20070617

Don't try this at home...




Maintain Electrical SafetyThe insulation on electrical wires can become damaged by wear, flexing, or age. Some clues that you may have an electrical problem are:

  • Flickering lights. If the lights dim every time you turn on an appliance that circuit is overloaded or has a loose connection.
  • Sparks. If sparks appear when you insert or remove a plug, that could be a sign of loose connections.
  • Frequent blown fuses or broken circuits. A fuse or circuit breaker that keeps tripping is an important warning sign of problems.
  • Frequent bulb burnout. A light bulb that burns out frequently is a sign that the bulb is too high a wattage for the fixture.
  • Avoid the use of extension cords.

20070610

Aging happens but fires don't have to...




















It's more likely that a fire will occur in a place you can't easily see. Waste heat generated by electrical current can cause wiring hidden within a home's walls to expand and contract, eventually loosening it. Once that wiring is loose, the electricity can arc, with a heat output reaching 1,500 to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit.
That's more than enough to ignite wood or old insulation under normal circumstances, but in San Francisco,  Inside a house in dry months, the relative humidity within the walls can drop to that of the average desert, turning studs -- wooden wall supports -- into kindling, easily ignited by an arcing current.
Here we arrive at one of the problems with electrical fires: By the time you see smoke coming out of your outlet, a fire has most likely already begun and is spreading out of sight within your walls and up to your attic. It's easy for a homeowner who has turned off the power to a burning socket to think that they've taken care of the problem. But an unseen fire may already be building beyond the outlet.
Even worse, electrical fires can be particularly tricky to put out. Since they involve electricity, using water to put out the fire can cause electrocution. Chemical powders can cause the fire to smolder then reignite. 



TFCI thermal fault outlets protect "glowing connection".

http://www.tcforensic.com.au/docs/japan/3.html

plug
BSafe® Technology – How It Works 
BSafe’s TFCI™ thermal cut-off technology outlet incorporates a multi-sensor thermal switch mechanism. It senses abnormal temperature at each plug outlet and wiring screw terminal on the device and shuts off electrical power to the load on the outlet when overheating occurs.

AFCI – effective in 2002 this type of circuit breaker was first required only in residential bedrooms. It's now required for most all circuits in homes. AFCI shuts down power in a fraction of a second when hazardous condition exists.

Top Causes of Arc Faults

  • Loose or improper connections, such as electrical wires to outlets or switches
  • Frayed appliance or extension cords
  • Pinched or pierced wire insulation, such as a wire inside a wall nipped by a nail or a chair leg sitting on an extension cord
  • Cracked wire insulation stemming from age, heat, corrosion, or bending stress
  • Overheated wires or cords
  • Damaged electrical appliances
  • Electrical wire insulation chewed by rodents





GFCI protects people from electric shock. AFCI protects against electrical fire. Both together provide very thorough  protection for the system. Adding TFCI (thermal fault as above) is the most complete protection available today. 

20070515

Electrical Outlets Safety


San Francisco / Marina
TAMPER-RESISTANT RECEPTACLES
All 15- and 20-ampere receptacles in a dwelling unit shall be listed tamper-resistant.

TR receptacles have been mandated in hospital pediatric wards for over 20 years and have proven to effectively prevent electrical injuries.

"...Going against all the fire safety training I’d gone through growing up, I grabbed an industrial extension cord and power strip from the garage, and ran it through the dining room into the den. I finished setting up my laptop around 2 a.m. and went to bed.... ...After that, I got kind of lazy. I knew that I had to deal with the electrical problem, but I was dreading what it would cost to have an electrician come fix it. We lived with the extension cord running across the floor for about a week, hoping that no one would decide to drop by unannounced..."



Incandescent lamp => longevity







20070506

Trapeze track lighting



"Trapeze" suspension lighting systems can have many troubles, even when installed correctly if they are not occasionally maintained. Basically, when you put in new lamps, you should check that nothing is loose.






Loose connections, xfmr "hum", short lamp longevity, expansion contraction, socket burnout are some findings at correctly installed installations.






Incorrect issues revolve around incompatible dimmers and loose mechanically bolted connections






The price driven practice of installing the wrong dimmer creates the fairly common scenario: arcing failures with suspension systems. See the enclosed photo showing incandescent switch controlling magnetic low voltage trapeze system. Instead of a $100 switch the original installer often uses a $30 switch which works well for a few years until it smokes both the switch and the xfmr.







Remedies include:

tighten up connections
replace loose sockets / fixtures
ensure compatible xfmr / dimmer pairing
replace magnetic xfmr w electronic
swap halogen lamps for LED




















20070505

Beautiful!


Here are some photos of our work and
some photos of electrical interest!
Our service area is the 415.

Telephone: (415)877.1172

Posted by Hello

Device longevity



Some things get better with time.




video


20070504

How many things can you plug into an electrical outlet before it catches fire?













out of the 5,300 annual household electrical fires, about 2,000 of those occur over the holiday season. By getting a better idea of how household electricity works, you can avoid the danger and blown fuses caused by overloaded outlets.

20060907

nBeach? or Marina...

video

20060602

Typical Prices

Most basic troubleshooting calls including repair and installation calls are resolved less than $500. We have developed this list to serve as a guideline and to provide "ball park" estimates for common items. These costs are for a typical small to medium house in California. Difficult access, commercial work or other factors could increase cost substantially. Please note: Recent construction cost increases may make some of these prices lower than you will find locally.


Minimum service call 
  • Residential Service Call $180 per man hr or menu 
  • Commercial Service Call $220 per man hr or menu 
  • After hours or emergency/ urgent call at time and a half 
  • Minimum call "nothing done" with tools used $100
Global
  • SF DBI permit and onsite inspection meetings $800
  • Correct "all lights flicker" troubles starting at $450 typical [liaison w PGE add $150]
  • PGE Liason for upgrades: Job Card
    • Undergrounding engineer, trouble man, estimator, surveyor meetings $750
  • Safety Survey $500 typical
  • Bring Grounding System to compliance $850 typical
  • Mobilize extra large ladder or staircase ladders $400 typical.  Scaffolding is more
  • Well documented small resale inspections $500-$800 typical
Panels
  • New small Subpanel from $1200
  • Upgrade small fusebox or FP panel to 100 amp panel from $1,800
    • Add $2000 typical  to move FP panel out of closet and over to a nearby wall. [Drywall and paint by others]
  • Upgrade small Meter Main to 200amp main $3,500 typical
  • Upgrade larger residential single family Meter Main to 400amp main $8k+ typical
    • plus sfdbi permits and pge liason
    • does not include trenching new underground
Devices
  • Replace existing Small lighting Fixture $90 typical bulk
  • Install simple chandelier less than 25lbs or new Ceiling Fan $450 typical
    • w/existing switch and rated box
  • Replace existing switch or outlet [bulk] $65 typical plus material cost 
    • [$20 commercial duty devices - dimmers or specialty switches more]
  • Replace existing 2prong outlet with GFI outlet bulk]  $65 typical plus material [typ $45]
    • [add $45 for exterior in-use cover & weather resistant device or combo device]
  • Plasma TV / Bidet install $900 typical plus cost of power circuit if needed [Drywall and paint by others]
  • Bathroom remove and replace existing Exhaust Fan with adequate vent $950 labor typical. [Drywall and paint by others]
New Circuits
    • New, remodel, or extend switching  / lighting / power outlets: $650 typical. 
      • $650 first remodel light, $500 for switch or each additional light in series
      • $450  for new romex to nearby outlet typical  [interior residential]
      • $800 ea remodel power outlet run using hard pipe / metal cable if required.
    • New120-volt circuit starting from $900 less than 100 feet
      • adjust for panel condition, wire path and total distance
    • New 240-volt circuit starting from $950 less than 50 feet
      • adjust for panel condition, wire path and total distance
    • Add $200 parts and labor for AFCI protection as needed.
Remodels
  • Bathroom Remodel starting from from $900 [size & finishes]
  • Kitchen Remodel starting from from $1,800 [size & finishes]
Repairs
  • Repair lighting ballasts / transformers bulk $95/ea plus materials [typ $85/ea]
    • recessed cans $200 plus $85 material typical

20060515

What causes humming in audio systems?

Some articles claim that wiring and grounding problems account for up to 80 percent of all power quality related problems related with sensitive electronic equipments like audio/video systems.

20060112

Frequently Asked Questions



I PROBABLY JUST HAVE A TRIPPED CIRCUIT BREAKER, BUT WHAT DOES A TRIPPED CIRCUIT BREAKER LOOK LIKE?

There are three possibilities. One brand of breaker shows a "red flag" when the breaker is tripped. Another brand trips all the way to the "off" position, you can't miss it. The majority of breakers trip to an "intermediate" position, and those can be tricky to locate. They trip to a position half way between "off" and "on". You'll have to look closely. Sometimes they barely move from the "on" position. When in doubt, and when it is safe to do so, reset all of your circuit breakers. You might find one that feels "soft" and you'll know you found it.


I HAVE A CIRCUIT BREAKER THAT WON'T RESET

Circuit breakers have to be forced all the way to the "off" position first, before being turned to the "on" position, or they won't reset. First force the breaker all the way off, then all the way on.

I RESET THE CIRCUIT BREAKER BUT IT BUZZES AND TRIPS RIGHT BACK OFF

Go to the affected area and determine what all doesn't work. Unplug every appliance or lamp plugged into a "dead" outlet. Switch off all lighting in the affected area. Disconnect everything you can find on the "dead" circuit. Then return to the circuit box and try again to reset the breaker. If it trips off again, I will need to visit your site to troubleshoot the problem. If the breaker now stays "on", return to affected area and start reconnecting everything you disconnected. Often times you'll find that you have a defective appliance that is causing the problem. If you plug in the toaster and the breaker trips, you need a new toaster, not an electrician.

SOME OF MY OUTLETS QUIT WORKING. I'VE CHECKED ALL THE BREAKERS AND NOTHING IS TRIPPED. WHAT'S WRONG?
Many outlets in modern homes are "GFI" protected, meaning there is a GFI outlet somewhere in the circuit that has tripped, and killed all power to the remaining outlets on the circuit. Look for a GFI receptacle somewhere. They look different than a normal power outlet, they have a "Test " and "Reset" button on them. They will be found in bathrooms, basements, garages, outdoors, kitchens, or any area around a sink or water source. Push the reset button on any GFI outlet that you find, and power will likely be restored. This simple knowledge may save you a service call.

MY DIMMER SWITCH DOESN'T DIM ANYMORE AND THE LIGHTS BUZZ AND FLICKER

If you are using CFL light bulbs on a dimmer switch, you probably just ruined your dimmer and possibly the light bulb also. CFL's aren't compatible with most dimmer switches, and damage will occur if attempted. Either remove the CFL and re-install a regular bulb, or replace the dimmer with a regular switch. We can help you out with that.  Mismatched dimmers with loads are also very common.  Many times the correct dimmer for an application is expensive [ELV and MAG LOVO] and there is a much cheaper dimmer that will work fine for a little while.  These problems often show as smoke coming slowly over time out of the switch box and the wall above the switches becoming sooty.


A large part of my house is out of power, all the powers gone, resetting the main breaker won't help what should I do?  
First, If this is going on for a while... go ahead and run an extension cord to power up your fridge as necessary

Talk with your neighbors, see if anyone nearby has the same problem = perhaps this is a Pg&E issue. 
If you have a smart meter you can tell if it's a Pg&E Issue by looking at the digital display of the smart meter. Blank is definitely an indicator!
If you suspect utility problems call PGE 1800 PGE 5000





20050921

Sparking outlets and wires esp knob and tube



EXCESSIVE THERMAL INSULATION: There are simple ways in which a fire can be created with an electric cord that is neither damaged nor subjected to a current in excess of its rated capacity—loop it up upon itself several times, or provide a high amount of external insulation, or both. Laboratory demonstrations have verified that ignition readily occurs; in one case, simply coiling the cord three times and covering with a cloth sufficed. A special form of this hazard occurs with the old knob-and-tube wiring, which was common in the US prior to World War II. This type of wiring uses two separate conductors which are not grouped into a cable, but are individually strung on widely-spaced porcelain knobs. The current-carrying capacity is dependent on there being unobstructed air cooling of the wires, and fires have occurred when the wires were buried in thermal insulation. 

STRAY CURRENTS AND GROUND FAULTS:Stray currents occur when circumstances cause current to flow through paths not intended to carry current. Ground faults are a well-known example. They can occur if a conductor is abraded or damaged and contacts metal siding, roofing, etc. Kinoshita et al. documented that only 5 A was required for ignition when a 3-conductor, PVC-insulated cable contacted a galvanized iron roof.  An unusual mode of ignition from a ground fault is where current flows through a gas line. The current causes overheating of the metal and eventually a failure occurs In cold climates, it is not rare for individuals to thaw a frozen water pipe by attaching a welding transformer and passing current through it. Fires have resulted due the very large currents that are involved. Sanderson studied a case where thawing activity did not ignite the house that was being worked on, but caused ignition in six neighboring houses fed from the same power utility connection.




video video


20050916

Insuring knob and tube





There's still lots of knob and tube electrical distribution in San Francisco.
Some people don't see any value in upgrading it... hopefully, they're not your neighbors!

Some electricians also have been working with this for a long time and have become inured to it.
It's difficult, costly and disruptive to abandon all the old knob and tube wire.

If your home is already insured the most practical way to upgrade is to

install modern arc fault breakers as possible,
add new code compliant circuits as needed,
starting with the kitchen, the bath and points of heavy use.
Thermally protected outlets as per need
Verify the integrity of the grounding system
Install smoke detectors
We usually recommend to abandon knob & tube incrementally, again this is if your insurance company has no problem with it!






An obsolete electrical system that is giving warning signals should be inspected and corrected as recommended by an experienced professional


Good Labeling!  Under the fixture :/


Modern electrical systems are very safe.



Junction buried in the wall and filled it with newspaper from 1963



Gas Chandelier support




good looking junction box

scorcher

knobby tube

Security system power source








20050911

valenica corridor

slideshow

20050801

Extension cords no substitute for permanent wiring






In most cases, hard pipe and new circuits are required for safety.Bottom line is that extension cords are never OK , but temporary power taps Can Be OK under certain circumstances.  

To prevent fires, be very careful with extension cords.



  • Avoid trip hazards.
    • Do not cover or walk on cords
  • Plug extension cords into GFIs.  
  • Test the GFI when you plug the cord in.
    • Always unplug cords at the source when not in use.
  • Do not use cord if damaged.   
    • Inspect them as you roll them up and out.
  • No "Daisy Chain"
    • Do not plug one extension cord into another.
  • Completely connect plugs. 
    • Push them in all the way.  
  • Use three-wire extension cords with 3-pronged plugs

  • 605.5 Extension cords. Extension cords and flexible cords shall not be a substitute for permanent wiring. Extension cords and flexible cords shall not be affixed to structures, extended through walls, ceilings or floors, or under doors or floor coverings, nor shall such cords be subject to environmental damage or physical impact. Extension cords shall be used only with portable appliances. 

Regarding temporary power taps, the UL white book is quite clear, 
"...

Relocatable power taps are not intended to be permanently secured to building structures, tables, work benches, or similar structures, nor are they intended to be used as a substitute for fixed wiring. 

The cords of relocatable power taps are not intended to be routed through walls, windows, ceilings, floors or similar openings”.

Remember the UL position on permanent securing. It’s often desirable to secure the RPT to avoid damage. Securing is permissible by the UL standard as long as no tools are required to remove it. Therefore they are not permanently secured.



tripp lite.jpg

Power Strip This device is not classified as a cord set or extension cord, but is referred to as a Temporary Power Tap (TPT). It is permitted to have six outlets because its over-­current protection will protect the #14 AWG cord at its rated value of 15 amps. A TPT is intended only for indoor use as an extension of the branch circuit. (UL 1363)
Temporary Power Taps are often supplied with supplemental over-current protection, which is not the equal of a listed circuit breaker for reliability or effectiveness. Switches, indicator lights, a transient voltage surge suppressor (TVSS) and/or an electromagnetic interference (EMI) filter may also be included.
The word "temporary" is broadly interpreted because of the special need for the extra outlets where we have a cluster of appliances such as a computer, printer or disc drive. Admittedly this assembly may be used for months or even years without moving, but its length is limited to a maximum of 25 feet. UL (policy) considers this usage to be within the intent of the cordbecause such equipment is moved occasionally, and because there is no other practical way to provide for this very common need.
The main difference between temporary power taps and extension cords lies in the intended use of the products. UL lists extension cords as cord sets under the category of Cord Sets and Power Supply Cords. A cord set can have a current rating less than the branch circuit rating (depending on the ampacity of the cord and the rating of the devices such as cord-connector body or switch, whichever is less). For this reason, a cord set must be selected in relation to the rating of the equipment with which it is used. Cord sets extend the appliance power supply cord so that the appliance can be ".... energized from a receptacle outlet" [Section 400-7 (b)]. Temporary power taps extend the branch circuit.
This information was originally published in “Straight Talk on Extension Cords, Power Strips and Daisy-Chaining” by Ernie Harper, CSP.



20050515

How OK is it to replace ungrounded outlet with GFCI outlets?


How can you replace an old two wire receptacle safely and in a code compliant manner?  



You can either replace it with a "new" old style two wire outlet, or better, replace it with a GFI protected outlet.  You used to be able to connect the ground to the cold water pipe, but that is no longer allowed since the 1993 iteration of the NEC.


A. Where no equipment bonding means exists in the outlet box, nongrounding-type receptacles can be replaced with [406.3(D)(3)]:
  • Another nongrounding-type receptacle.
  • A GFCI grounding-type receptacle marked "No Equipment Ground."
  • A grounding-type receptacle, if GFCI protected and marked "GFCI Protected" and "No Equipment Ground."


Note: GFCI protection functions properly on a 2-wire circuit without an equipment grounding (bonding) conductor, because the equipment grounding (bonding) conductor serves no role in the operation of the GFCI-protection device.

CAUTION: The permission to replace nongrounding-type receptacles with GFCI-protected grounding-type receptacles doesn't apply to new receptacle outlets that extend from an existing ungrounded outlet box. Once you add a receptacle outlet (branch-circuit extension), the receptacle must be of the grounding (bonding) type and it must have its grounding terminal grounded (bonded) to an effective ground-fault current path in accordance with 250.130(C).







"Can you just run a bare wire from the old outlet to a cold water pipe to ground the new outlet instead?

a new ground wire to the old knob and tube means basically  three new wires to the old wall opening  replacing the knob and tube with a new grounded circuit... new power from a nearby grounded circuit.  Once you start extending new circuits they need to be in conformity with current code.  Up to 1990 you were just allowed to run a bare wire to the nearest cold water pipe.  Not anymore.  That means the whole circuit will require AFCI protection - all of which are very good things...  Those prices are labled "new circuits" in the menu and the typical cost is published here.
  • If you need dedicated solid power that requires running a new pipe to the main => that is a new hard pipe circuit. There are only so many outlets you can run from the one breaker.  Even an elevator always has "room for one more" up to a point!

Under the 1990 NEC {250-50(b)Exception} and in earlier code cycles a bonding jumper was permitted to be run from the grounding terminal of the receptacle to any water pipe that was bonded in accordance with 250-80(a)

250-80(a) Metal Water Piping. The interior metal water piping system shall be bonded to the service equipment enclosure, the grounded conductor at the service, the grounding electrode conductor where of sufficient size, or to the one or more grounding electrodes used.