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Ask an electrician

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    People often have questions about electrical issues. We sent our Bill Lauterbach to A+ Electric to get some answers

By Bill Lauterbach

When you first look at the owner’s business card from A+ Electric, you do not see the words “owner,” or even “general manager.” You see “Carl Evanson – Master Electrician.” Those words are printed with a two-fold
purpose.

First, it demonstrates that his business is about being the best electrical contractor for your budget. Secondly and most importantly, says Evanson, A+ Electric is a team.

If you ask Evanson what makes his electrician business stand out from all of the other area electricians, he quickly responds that they make every possible effort to give same day service. “We attempt to be the ‘day-of’ service. Our goal since day one has been to be the day-of; if not, then the day-after. Most of our competitors book a week or two out. We try to leave a person open. (Sometimes) I’m paying somebody just to sit there.”

In fact, competitors know this and will often let their callers know that since they are unable to help that day, A+ Electric has someone available.

During our conversation, much of the topic revolved around the March 8, 2017 windstorm. One question we had: who is responsible for what when it comes to a downed power line to your home? From the stand-off insulators (“knobs”) that are attached to your house, and the wiring that goes into your house from those “knob” insulators, the home owner is responsible.

Consumers Energy then brings the wire from the utility pole to the “knobs” and re-attaches the line. “What typically happens, a tree comes down, it pulls the service line(s) down on the ground, knobs and all. People wait a day and they call Consumer’s Energy because they still have power. It’s lying on the ground and they have power and they are fine. Consumer’s Energy arrives on Friday at 4 p.m. and they cut those wires (at the knobs) even if they are lying on the ground, and they turn around and say ‘Call an electrician.’” That’s where A+ Electric comes into the picture and attempts to be there ASAP, so home owners are not stuck all weekend without electricity. Another subject initiated from the March windstorm; the purchase and use of generators. A+ Electric sells and permanently installs Generac propane generators. Typically, they will power your home for up to three days, depending on how much electricity you are using. By the time you pay for an entire home generator system and its installation plus the installation and fill of a 500 gallon propane tank, the cost is around $7,000.

Is it more economical than purchasing one or two portable generators? That depends. Evanson says “When you say ‘economical,’ how much does it cost when you go to Florida and your pipes freeze and you come home to a flooded home?

Or, he asks, should an elderly man or woman drag a twowheeled portable generator through two feet of snow when the power goes out?

Evanson continues “For $7,000, you can buy peace of mind. When day one (of an outage) hits, everybody’s fine; day two, there is a little bit of a panic; day three, they haven’t showered in three days, they’ve lost all of their food and their house is either really hot or really cold. By that third day, money is no object.”

Another issue in our discussion revolved around the do-it-yourselfer, which describes many of us. At what point does a job become too dangerous for a do-it yourselfer?

Evanson says “A lot of people can make something work. But usually they never make it work right. So they get it to a state of operation, where it does perform. But when it comes time to sell your home, and the home inspector comes and says ‘This isn’t right,’ and on the last day you live there, we come in and everything is done correctly; everything is done safe.

We also get calls from wives who say ‘Please don’t let my husband do this – I don’t want him on a ladder or he doesn’t know what he’s doing. So please come when he leaves for work and please be gone before he comes home.’”

What does it take to become a career electrician? The correct route, according to Evanson, is working in an apprenticeship position with an electrical contractor for four years, combined with vocational college. “Teaming up with a contractor first gets you real world experience, it gets you paid, and the contractor will usually pay for your vocational schooling – Jackson College or Saginaw Valley come to mind.”

Our final topic, and something everyone has experienced, was what to do when the power in our home goes out. Evanson’s response: “Call the utility company, because it’s free. Whenever a customer calls me and says ‘I have no power,’ I tell them to please call the utility company. There is no cost associated with it. If you want to do it yourself, shut off all circuit breakers and then shut off the main breaker. Turn the main breaker back on, and one by one, turn on each circuit breaker.” At this point, Evanson makes an interesting analogy: circuit breakers need to be occasionally “exercised” just like our elbows. If we kept our elbows in locked positions for years, it would be pretty hard to move them after all that time. This can often be a problem with circuit breakers. They simply get stuck and don’t display that they have been tripped.

From general contracting work, home generator installations, to replacing a light socket, call the team at A Plus Electric; 517-529-0000. Check out their website at apluselectricinc.biz. And while you are there, download their free app that lets you contact them for immediate emergency service.

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