Electrician Cost

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Old 01-22-18, 02:52 PM
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Electrician Cost

I have a old house it was build in mid 70s and it has aluminum wiring. All outlets have 3 holes. I don't know how they are wired inside (ground or neutral wires etc).

How much it will cost me to hire an electrician to replace circuit breakers (made by ITE) and all electric outlets and plugs?

Is this by hour or by job as well? What are reasonable charge either by hour or by job (number of outlet/plugs. lets say $5-10 per outlets/plug/circuit breaker)?

What kind electrician do I need? I don't know what are different types of electricians and what qualification do they have? Is lineman considered an electrician?

Could someone tell me what are good brands for circuit breakers (my current circuit breakers are QP type not sure what does mean but thats what it say on breaker itself). Do I have to replace QP with a QP type or can it be replaced with another type?

What are good brands for outlets and plugs? Homedepot has some plugs for $1 each and some are $3 each. Same is with outlets.

How good are tamper proof oulets? Are they worth high price?
 
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Old 01-22-18, 03:26 PM
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#1, Want a price your going to have to call and get several local quotes.
#2, Why do you think it needs all be replaced?
That's going to be a whole lot of money for a possible non issue.
Has there been issues it the home with the wiring your concerned with, or are you just basing this on what you heard on the net?
 
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Old 01-22-18, 04:08 PM
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I never had any issues either with circuit breakers or outlets/plugs. I was not sure if this is something needs to be done after number of years like maintenance or preventive care. Or electric codes are different now vs mids 70s.
 
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Old 01-22-18, 05:49 PM
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You have a few issues going on here:

First of all you have aluminum wiring. Aluminum wiring requires special connectors an devices that are rated for aluminum wires. I highly doubt any newer devices, other then just a standard duplex device or switch, are rated for aluminum wires, and the ones that are are very expensive. Your best option to start off is to get rid of the aluminum wires.

ITE circuit breakers are just fine. ITE is now Siemens and is actually my preferred brand of panels and breakers. QP is just the type of breaker that is used in ITE/Siemens plug in load centers. Why do you think you need to replace the breakers?

There are no special "type" of electrician you need, just a licensed electrical contractor. Do not just hire a general contractor or handyman. Hourly rates vary around the US but typical rates run $90 - $150 per hour.

Depending on the NEC code cycle your location is on Tamper resistant devices may be required. Also, if your replace a device it may be required (Depending on code cycle) to be replaced with an AFCI device or the entire circuit needs to be protected by an AFCI breaker.

Typically an electrical system that has been properly installed should not need any maintenance. However replacing the aluminum wiring may save you money on your homeowners insurance.
 
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Old 01-22-18, 06:17 PM
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Not sure if this helps or it was required. I have lower gauge Aluminum wires. e.g. If on a 15 Amp circuit 14 gauge copper wire was needed I have 12 gauge aluminum. List goes on, 20 Amp, 12 copper vs 10 Aluminum is installed. same is true for higher Amps circuit breakers.

I have electrician came in do some appliances installation, he was pushing me to install new circuit breakers and wall outlets and plugs. He was bad mouthing ITE brand. He took out few circuit breakers and showed me aluminum wires and gauges. I posted another thread as well if that is needed or just sales tactics.
 
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Old 01-22-18, 06:45 PM
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I have 4500 +4500 watts water heater and it is on 30 Amp circuit breakers. I just looked 9000 watts water heater listed to have about 20 Amp circuit breaker.

My electric clothes dryer is on 40 Amp breaker but manual says 30 Amps.
My 24000 BTU electric furnace is on 100 Amp breaker
AC unit is on 50 Amp breaker
Oven/Range is on 50 Amp breaker

I am quite sure they all are on higher capacity circuit breakers.

Q. Having appliances on higher capacity circuit breaker helps or kind of masks tripping ( I never had any tripping on any breaker)?
 
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Old 01-22-18, 07:23 PM
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I have lower gauge Aluminum wires. e.g. If on a 15 Amp circuit 14 gauge copper wire was needed I have 12 gauge aluminum. List goes on, 20 Amp, 12 copper vs 10 Aluminum is installed. same is true for higher Amps circuit breakers.
That is actually correct for aluminum wires. Smaller the number, thicker the wire. And aluminum wires have higher resistance compared to copper, thus have to use one size larger than copper for same current.

If the electrician was saying you have wrong size wire because of that, than you should look for a different electrician.
Your problem is not the wire size, but the very fact you have aluminum wires. This can be fixed without replacing aluminum wiring, but not cheap.
At very least, pull all outlets and switches and check if they are rated for aluminum. It will have AL/CU marking. Also tighten all of the screws of the terminal.

I have 4500 +4500 watts water heater and it is on 30 Amp circuit breakers. I just looked 9000 watts water heater listed to have about 20 Amp circuit breaker.
Heating elements of household water heaters do not turn on at the same time. There are one at the bottom and one at the top. Top one only turns on when the water on top of the water heater is cold (meaning out of hot water) and when this happens, bottom element is turned off.
Most of the time, only the bottom one will be used.
So, you don't have 9000W. You have 4500W water heater.
4500W / 240V = 18.75A.
However, for a continuous load the circuit has to be sized for 125% of the load. 18.75A x 1.25 = 23.4A.
Therefore, 30A is required.


AC unit is on 50 Amp breaker
AC is usually on 30A, but if you have correct size wire (6AWG copper or 4AWG aluminum) going to disconnect box outside, and the disconnect box has properly sized fuse or breaker matching rating of the AC (it will be written on the label of the AC), then you are ok.

Oven/Range is on 50 Amp breaker
This is correct size as long as wire used is also correct size. 6AWG copper or 4AWG aluminum.
Oven/range outlet is rated for 50A.

Q. Having appliances on higher capacity circuit breaker helps or kind of masks tripping
As long as the wiring is correct size, having smaller load is not a problem. It is not masking tripping. It is working properly. You don't have higher then normal capacity.
 
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Old 01-22-18, 07:56 PM
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Aluminum wire problems.

Here are pictures of problem you may face with aluminum wiring.
These are the pictures I have taken from my job last year in an apartment complex.

Purple connector in second picture is AlumiConn and this is the only proper connector that you can use to splice Al to Al or Al to copper without spacial tool. This picture is after repair of the first picture.

And a video.
https://youtu.be/IR34u3JsXfs
 
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Old 01-22-18, 07:57 PM
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Thanks for a very detailed input. Very much appreciated.
 
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Old 01-22-18, 08:49 PM
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I have to agree.
That was a very detailed reply and the pictures say more than words.
Thanks for that post lambition.
 
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Old 01-22-18, 09:18 PM
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My parent's house was built in the late 70's and has aluminum wiring. They built the house and have lived in it since. To date, they have not had any issues with the aluminum wiring. They are in a subdivision of approximately 200 homes and I'm not aware of a single house fire due to the wiring. I have started to replace outlets, switches, and light fixtures throughout their house. Most outlets, switches, and fixtures now state they are not to be used with aluminum wiring. When I do so, I use the purple Alumicon connectors shown in one of the pictures below. Alumiconn connectors have separate ports for the aluminum and copper wiring. Essentially you create a pigtail from the aluminum wiring to copper wiring and take the copper wiring to the outlet, switch, or fixture. I then can use regular outlets, switches, and fixtures since I using copper wiring at the outlet. It adds a bit more time, but they are relatively easy to use. You'll need a torque screwdriver as the screws need to be torqued to a specified rating. The Alumiconns are expensive, about $2 to $3 a piece. Most Lowe's in our area have the three port Alumiconn and I order the two port Alumiconns online. There are also special purple wire nuts that you can use, however, I don't like those as well since the aluminum and copper are still interacting with each other. Those wire nuts have corrosion inhibitor in them and are designed to expand more than regular wire nuts.
 
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Old 01-23-18, 03:45 AM
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They are in a subdivision of approximately 200 homes and I'm not aware of a single house fire due to the wiring.
Even in the apartment complex I was working had not a single fire from the wiring.
Junction boxes contained possible fire and all the failures were just electrical failure or sometime just gone unnoticed for years.
 
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Old 01-23-18, 08:40 AM
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That is a resident/owner/insurance underwriter nightmare. sprinkler system in place?
 
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Old 01-23-18, 10:20 AM
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To the original poster, you definitely want to get a good electrician out to give you his opinions on your system as a whole. Sometimes, just a few minor updates will ensure your electrical system is good to go, other times, you may need more work.

If your questioning what an electrician (or any contractor) has told you, find another recommended by friends or family, and have them look at it as a second opinion. Of course, we're here to help with any specific questions - though it sounds like you may have lots!


Like all trades, electricians vary in price and competence. Find someone who you like and you trust. While we typically can't see everything he sees - you can always bounce things off us too.
 
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Old 01-23-18, 07:25 PM
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At very least, pull all outlets and switches and check if they are rated for aluminum. It will have AL/CU marking.

The AL/CU marking is a huge red flag, devices marked AL/CU were not designed specifically for use with aluminum wiring and must be replaced. At the insisting of wiring device manufacturers, Circle F comes to mind, UL instructed the manufacturers to mark their standard devices AL/CU to pacify their electrician customers. These are no different than devices manufactured today that are marked CU Only. The only devices ever manufactured that were designed specifically for use with aluminum wiring have the CO/ALR marking and even those devices have some failures when connected to aluminum wiring if the terminations were not made correctly by abrading the aluminum wire using antioxidant compound as a lubricant.


There are also special purple wire nuts that you can use

The Ideal purple #65 Twister aluminum to copper wire nuts are at best good for a temporary connection. Although they are UL Listed for aluminum to copper connections, they have never been tested by UL. They aren't even UL LIsted for aluminum to aluminum connections. The connectors have a big following by inexperienced electricians and DIYers, but they also have an extremely high failure rate. It's also interesting that the antioxidant compound the purple wire nuts are filled with is flammable. The original intent for the purple wire nuts was for low current connections of copper to aluminum wires such as when connecting copper light fixtures wires to aluminum branch circuit wiring. The fact is, there is no wire nut approved by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission for direct connecting aluminum to copper OR aluminum to aluminum wires.

Finding an electrician experienced in the proper methods of terminating aluminum wires isn't easy. There are many younger guys in the trades (20 to 40 years old) who have never even seen aluminum wiring, much less know how to properly make terminations.
 
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