Hiring a Handyman vs. a Contractor For Minor Repairs

Small businesses are always looking for ways to cut costs on operations. A more efficient piece of equipment, a simpler closing process, or a cheaper repair can all help toward keeping a burgeoning business afloat. However, there are some places where cost-cutting simply isn’t the best solution.

Hiring a handyman may be tempting if your facility needs a minor repair and they’re cheaper than calling in a specialist. A friend or your home handyman may be able to cut you a deal, but will that deal cost you in the long run when the repair doesn’t last?

There are some times when cheap maintenance service is the right decision and other times when it can lead to ongoing problems at your facility. Here’s how to tell which situation you’re in:

Does the service technically require licensing?

Some services – such as roofing repair, electrical maintenance, and plumbing renovation – require licensing to be legally provided by a company. If your service typically requires some sort of license to perform, you need to hire a contractor. This is especially important for commercial facilities as not hiring the right person may lead to troubles with your own permits and licensing.

Does it require special equipment?

Contractors invest in high-quality equipment to provide service that a handyman may not have on their truck. Even if the handyman is able to complete the repair, they may put themselves at risk or not be able to complete the service properly without this needed equipment.

Does the handyman list this service on their website or brochure?

Typically, a handyman will have a list of provided services that you can select from. If the service you’re looking for is not explicitly listed, you should look for a contractor to make sure the job is done right.

Was previous work done by a licensed contractor?

If you’re having trouble with your HVAC system and a previous contractor has already done work on the unit before, you should call a licensed contractor to finish the work, especially if you think something was done wrong. A handyman may not be able to accurately diagnose problems or work on a piece of equipment that has had previous faulty service. Prevent the problem from getting worse by hiring the right help.

MaintenX helps small businesses find affordable and quality work for HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and roofing repair across the U.S. If you need work done by a specialist, contact us to connect with the best subcontractor network in the U.S.

Installing Additional Outlets? Here’s What You Need To Know

As your business grows, so will your need for technology. Many smaller commercial buildings will inevitably run into problems keeping up with increased electrical demand. By adding more wall outlets, you can create a more functional office space, but there are several considerations to make before you begin the installation. 

Below are three tips to help you make the most of your outlet installation:

Install smart outlets. 

Smart outlets use less energy, can have USB adaptations, and can even be controlled by Bluetooth for electronics like speakers and smartphones. These will be the new standard in several years, so the sooner you upgrade, the better your facility will be positioned for advancements in the future. For the modern office space, smart outlets are a must. 

Choose the right placement. 

Electrical codes specify how far apart outlets need to be, but you are allowed to place them anywhere. Make sure outlets are convenient for any place that people congregate, especially in open floor plan office spaces. Floor outlets are also a great option to ensure plugs aren’t a tripping hazard in high-foot traffic areas. 

Replace old outlets as needed. 

While you’re adding new outlets, ask your electrician about replacing old outlets and wiring that are giving you trouble. Older outlets can have issues with the electrical load of modern appliances and may not work as efficiently as new ones. They can also pose electrical hazards if the wiring is older and beginning to wear. 

MaintenX works with top electrical professionals across the country to make your building renovations as simple as possible. If you’re interested in upgrading your electrical system with new outlets or other technologies, contact us today!

Ask An Electrician: Four Most Frequently Asked Questions

Becoming a commercial electrician is one of the most difficult paths to take in the maintenance service world. These professionals must complete years of training and classes to prepare for the large scope of commercial electrical work and safety. However, those that make it are the best of the best. They can help you lower your electric bill and ensure your facility is safe and high-performing all throughout the year. 

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions our electricians receive, and what they recommend for electrical maintenance best practices: 

How can I save energy at my facility?

Most people expect the answer to these questions will be to turn off lights or unplug devices while away. However, the biggest electrical drain in commercial facilities isn’t the lighting and appliances themselves, but the continued use of outdated options. Older appliances will use more energy than modern, energy-efficient ones, and will also cost you more than it will to replace them. If you really want to save money, upgrade your lighting and appliances to the most energy-efficient options on the market. 

Do I really need a backup generator?

The answer to this question depends on the type of business you have operating in your facility. If you have a medical center, grocery store, gas station, disaster shelter, or any other facility that is essential in an emergency, the answer is absolutely yes. However, if you’re operating an office building or small retail business that can close during power or weather emergencies, you can decide for yourself whether the cost of a backup generator is greater or less than the cost to close your business during emergencies. 

What electrical work can I do myself?

Generally, we don’t recommend business owners or property managers do any of their own electric work unless they are themselves a licensed contractor. Even small jobs can compromise your business license and permits if not done properly. Plus, electrical work can be dangerous, so working on it without the proper skill can put you and your employees in danger. 

Where can I find a commercial electrician?

Most commercial electricians work with a facility maintenance company to source jobs and handle communications between them and the client. This provides you with access not only to your area’s top electricians, but plumbers, HVAC techs, roofers, and other specialists. If you’re looking for a facility maintenance team that can handle all of your commercial work, talk to a local MaintenX team. 

MaintenX works with top electricians across the country to provide you best in class service day and night. To learn more about our electrical repair and installation services, contact your local MaintenX today!

Do I Need A Backup Generator For My Facility?

Backup generators are common investments for larger facilities such as medical centers and industrial warehouses. They can be a lifesaver in a storm or power outage when essential services and production times cannot wait. However, not every facility needs uninterruptable power, and not all need the same type of power in case of emergencies. 

 

If you’re looking to invest in a backup generator for your business, ask yourself these questions before making the purchase: 

 

Does my business provide essential services to the community?

If the answer is “Yes,” then you need to invest in a backup generator for your business. Essential services not only include medical and emergency response, but businesses like grocery stores, transportation, and home maintenance service providers. These services are essential in the aftermath of a storm that knocks everyone off the power grid, and your proximity to neighborhoods may be a lifesaver for someone in need. 

 

Does my business store critical information digitally or onsite? 

Power interruptions can cause interruptions to server systems and computers, which can be detrimental if you store critical business or customer information onsite. An uninterruptable power supply (UPS) system or backup generator can save your data and ensure you don’t lose your most valuable information in the event of a storm. 

 

Does my business provide shelter in the event of a storm?

Your business may be small enough that you would likely close in the event of a storm or power outage. However, having a backup generator can turn your business into a safe haven during a natural disaster. If you can provide shelter for employees and residents in your area, a backup generator is a wise investment. 

 

Does your business store food or other perishables?

If you store food, drinks, or other perishable goods at your facility, a backup generator is a must. Not only do you want to preserve your inventory, but coming back after several days to a rotting commercial kitchen is a mess nobody wants to clean up. A backup generator or UPS system that does not need to be monitored can save your facility from great losses.

 

A Backup generator can help almost any size business feel safer and more prepared in the event of a storm. Talk to your MaintenX team about backup generator or UPS installation, as well as the annual maintenance that goes into these systems.

Four Things Your Electrician Wants You To Stop Doing at Your Business

At MaintenX, we like to get to know our clients and provide them with as much hands-on knowledge as possible to make their maintenance programs run better. From DIY tips to advice on the latest equipment upgrades, we strive to arm our clients with information so they can do what they do best. However, there are several things we wish our clients wouldn’t do, especially when it comes to their electrical system. 

 

Below are four things your electrician wishes you wouldn’t do, and why these actions can pose a risk to your facility and yourself: 

 

Using loose electrical outlets. 

Loose outlets are not only impractical but are a potential fire hazard to your facility. An outlet that is loose can generate quite a lot of heat, which is incredibly dangerous. If any of your outlets are loose, replace them immediately before plugging into one. 

 

Overloading your circuit. 

Oftentimes, commercial facilities are loaded to the max with electrical appliances, which can easily lead to an overloaded circuit in older buildings. An overloaded circuit will cause issues with all of your electrical appliances and can lead to electrical safety hazards if modern fail-safes are not in place. If you notice flickering lights or a circuit tripping frequently, contact your electrician to talk about upgrading. 

 

Ignoring electrical issues in the restroom. 

Water conducts electricity very well, which is why electrical components in a bathroom can be risky. If you notice exposed wires or a loose outlet, contact your MaintenX electrician immediately. Electrocutions can cause severe and debilitating injuries, so don’t take this hazard lightly. 

 

Doing electrical repairs yourself. 

Some maintenance tasks you don’t have to outsource – painting the walls, snaking a drain, and cleaning your gutters are all simple tasks for you or your onsite janitorial staff to handle. However, all electrical repairs should be done by a licensed electrician, no matter how small. Electrical repairs are dangerous if not done correctly. It is much better to pay for a professional than to risk your safety and health over a few saved dollars. 

 

MaintenX offers affordable, fast electrical repair for businesses across the U.S. If you’d like to learn more or hire a licensed electrician in your area, give your local MaintenX a call today!

The Meaning of Electrical Wire Colors

At MaintenX, safety is our top priority. From the training we provide to the precautions we take onsite, everything is centered around safe and reliable service for our customers. This is especially important for electrical work, which poses risks of electrocution and fire hazards if done incorrectly. 

 

One of the things that help electricians stay safe is the wire color-coding system. Different colored wires are used for different purposes, which helps them to easily identify issues and fix them quickly. If you are working on electrical repairs yourself, it is helpful to know what these colors mean, and which ones are dangerous to handle on your own: 

 

Green

Green wires are used for grounding. They can sometimes feature a yellow stripe or be bare copper wire but are typically insulated for protection. Grounding wires prevent electrical hazards by redirecting current when a short circuit or overload occurs. Because they can conduct electricity, they should be handled with caution at all times. 

 

Black 

Black wires are “live” wires and are used to feed electricity to all of your appliances and outlets. They are also used as “switch legs,” which power appliances when a switch. Black wires should always be considered live and require you to shut off the circuit breaker or power to the entire building if performing electrical repair. 

 

Red 

Red wires are used as alternate live wires for a variety of applications. When a particular appliance requires a lot of electricity, such as a stove or A/C unit, red wires are used with black wires to provide the additional power. Red wires can also be used as switch legs for things like a ceiling fan that has an alternate switch for the light. In some instances, red wires are used as “trigger wires” to interconnect electrical appliances such as smoke or security alarms. 

 

White

White wires are called “neutral” wires because they carry electrical current from the hot wire back to a grounded portion of the building’s electrical circuit. Without neutral wires, the circuit is incomplete. While the name is deceiving, these wires can still carry an electrical current and should be treated as live. 

 

If you are working with your electrical system, it is essential to understand this color system and be cautious with every wire you handle. Electrical accidents are some of the worst work-related accidents, and should be avoided at all costs by having a proper knowledge of electrical safety, and calling a professional for help when needed. 

 

To learn more about electrical safety or to contact a licensed electrician for electrical repair, call your local MaintenX team today.

Five Commercial Electrical Terms You Need To Know

Working with an electrician can feel like working with a rocket scientist. Most head electricians are engineers by trade, and the technicians they work with have years of training in technical school and as apprentices, making their technical knowledge incredibly expansive. They need this technical knowledge due to the dangerous nature of electrical work, but it can make communicating to them as non-expert very difficult. 

 

If you want to make communicating with your electrician easier, it can be useful to learn some of their terminologies. Below are some of the most common terms used in commercial electrical repair, and how they apply to your business:

 

AC vs. DC Current

You may have heard of the band, but do you know where these acronyms come from? AC (or alternate current) refers to currents that reverse their direction several times per second in regular intervals. DC current, conversely, only flows in one direction. 

 

Electrical box vs. circuit breaker

Some people mistakenly call their circuit breaker the electrical box, but these are not the same. The circuit breaker is a protective measure to ensure overloaded circuits do not cause electrical fires, but rather shut off when power is overcapacity. The electrical box, on the other hand, is the box behind the wall where every fixture or outlet collects to the electrical circuit.

 

Ground Fault 

Ground faults are unintentionally electrically conductive connections between underground conductors and a typically non-conductive surface such as metal. These can disrupt the electrical flow and are common causes for electrical issues in a building. 

 

Multimeter

If you’ve called out for electrical repairs, chances are your electrician is bringing their multimeter with them. This device is similar to the diagnostic tools used for cars. The multimeter measures voltage, current, and resistance to determine the root cause of common electrical problems. 

 

NEC

If your building is “up to code,” that means it is following the National Electric Code established by the National Fire Protection Association. This code was established in 1897 but is continually updated every three years to provide electricians with all of the information they need for safety and compliance. 

 

With these terms in your arsenal of maintenance knowledge, you can begin to have more productive conversations with your electrician. To learn more about electrical care and maintenance for your facility, give your local MaintenX a call today!

Ensuring Safety Compliance for Your Electricians

Electrical work is some of the most dangerous maintenance work in the field. Not only does it require several years of training, but only experienced contractors can handle the ins and outs of commercial electrical repair. While at MaintenX we strive to provide every safety measure for both our clients and electricians, there are several steps you too can take to ensure your electrical work is safely performed. 

 

Below are # different ways facility managers and businesses can create a safer work environment for electricians and general maintenance contractors: 

 

Follow OSHA’s Plan, Provide, and Train Protocol

OSHA recommends following a three-step process for safety including planning your electrical service, providing adequate safety equipment, and training workers on proper electrical safety in the workforce. Below are just a few ways you can help establish this plan within your facility: 

 

  • Plan the electrical work ahead of time whenever possible. Electrical work can be invasive to the work environment, so plan ahead and make sure your contractors have everything they need for the service. You may also want to clear out any area where contractors will be working to ensure it does not get in the way of daily activity. 
  • Provide both electricians and workers with plenty of safety equipment for the electrical work. Whether it’s a small repair or a major rewiring of the building, you want to make sure everyone involved is prepared with electrical safety equipment and a clean, hazard-free environment. This is equally important for anyone near the worksite who is not trained in electrical work. 

 

  • Train workers on what to do in an emergency. Electricians are generally prepared for electrical emergencies, but your employees are not. Ensure they can react quickly and safely during an electrical outage, fire, or other hazard by training them during onboarding. 

 

Electrical safety is crucial for both you and your MaintenX electricians. To learn more about what you can do to create a safer work environment, visit our Resource Center for help.

Cost of Rewiring an Older Building

If you own or rent an older building, the idea has likely been thrown out a few times to rewire it entirely. Typically, older wiring is not as reliable, energy-efficient, or even up to modern codes. However, the process of replacing electrical wires is a lengthy one, with major expenses involved. If you’re thinking about biting the bullet and rewiring your entire facility, here is what you need to know first: 

 

How much will it cost? 

On average, the cost to rewire a building ranges from $4 to $10 per linear foot, plus the cost of cables, panels, and other replacement parts that need to be installed. The actual estimate will depend on a variety of factors including: 

 

  • Soiree footage of the facility
  • The function of the facility and electrical needs for each room
  • Number of fixtures 

 

Costs may go up or down depending on the complexity of the wiring to be replaced, as well as the urgency of the service and if special electrical needs must be met. TO receive a more accurate estimate, contact your MaintenX electrician. 

 

How long will it take? 

 

The length of service again depends on the size and complexity of the job, but you can expect service to take several weeks if you are rewiring the entire facility. Rewiring a single room or a set number of outlets may only take a few days, but commercial facilities typically take longer than residential jobs. 

 

Does my facility need to be rewired? 

 

If your facility is not up to code, it doesn’t hurt to rewire it even if it is not required to ensure your electrical system can handle modern machinery. However, you’ll notice other signs that your system needs to be rewired, such as: 

 

  • Discoloration around wall outlets
  • Circuit breakers trip often
  • Lights flicker
  • Outlets are loose
  • You experience a small electrical shock when plugging something in
  • You’re using extension cords on almost every outlet
  • You hear a sizzling or cracking noise near outlets (this is a sign emergent repairs are needed)

 

MaintenX specializes in electrical rework and repairs for commercial buildings. To learn more about how you can save money and time on electrical remodels, call your local MaintenX today!

The Most Common Electrical Emergencies for Businesses

Electrical work is something that scares most facility managers. It is a dangerous job, but one that your entire facility depends on in order to function properly for years on end. Without proper electrical maintenance, your facility is in big trouble when a power surge or outage occurs. 

 

Below are the four most common issues that occur with commercial electrical systems. If you want to avoid the operational problems that come with these maintenance issues, talk to your MaintenX team about preventative care for your electrical system: 

 

Mechanical wear and tear. 

Wires, insulation, and other mechanical parts of the electrical system are easily frayed and experience wear and tear throughout the years. If you own an older building, it is likely that your wiring could use some patching up. It’s important to keep up with monthly pest prevention to reduce the likelihood of chewed wires, as well as annual electrical inspections to ensure you’re up to code and your technician can detect issues before they become emergencies. 

 

Electrical surge. 

While electrical surges can happen due to downed power lines or extreme weather, they are more commonly caused by faulty wiring and appliance hookups. An occasional surge isn’t a big deal, but faulty electrical installations will damage your equipment over time. If you have an older building with faulty wiring, ask your MaintenX contractor about options for rewiring that will limit downtime. 

 

A lack of backup power. 

Backup power is arguably just as important as your electrical system for the continuity of your facility. Without a properly running standby generator or UPS system, you could find yourself in big trouble during a storm or local outage. If you haven’t invested in backup power for your business, talk to your MaintenX contractor about the best options for your building. And, if you do have one, be sure to schedule annual maintenance to ensure that when you need it, your backup power is in tip-top shape.

 

Failure to trip.

Circuit breakers are made to trip if they sense any sort of electrical problem. While this can be annoying when it happens, it will save our facility from electrical damage or worse, electrical fires. However, if you notice a humming or buzzing sound coming from your breaker box, this could indicate that this critical safety feature is not functioning properly. This is one of the more dangerous electrical issues that is unfortunately common in older commercial buildings, so be sure to get it checked out if you notice anything out of the norm. 

 

MaintenX offers comprehensive electrical maintenance services including emergency repairs, preventative care programs, and installation service. To learn more about how to properly care for your electrical system, contact us today.