Ask the Expert: An Interview with a Professional Electrician

Home renovations can be both exciting and overwhelming. From flooring and cabinetry to fixtures and paint colors, there are a lot of important decisions to consider when undergoing a kitchen or bathroom remodel. In addition to all of the aesthetic changes, a lot happens behind the walls.

In an effort to help homeowners prepare for a remodel, we sat down with our electrical subcontractor, Scott Gafgen of Scott Gafgen Electric. Scott has thirty years experience in the industry. He’s collaborated with Lang’s Kitchen & Bath on a variety of projects since 1996.

Q:        What is the top piece of advice you would give someone preparing to undertake a bathroom or kitchen remodel?  

It’s essential that the service panel can handle the extra load from all additional circuits needed for new and updated appliances. A service panel with too many circuits is dangerous, so you may need to have a new or additional panel installed to balance the load.

Q:        What should customers do to prepare for the work you do on their electrical systems?

It’s most helpful when a customer has properly marked their electrical panel and knows what each switch and breaker controls.

Q:        What “smart" features can be incorporated in the kitchen or bathroom?

Wireless switches are becoming more popular. The switches communicate through radio frequencies eliminating extraneous wiring. With this technology your lights can be operated from your smart phone, which also allows you to dim lights individually.

Wireless switches are also great for overhead reading lights. This way if your partner falls asleep and leaves their light on, you can turn it off without having to wake them up or get out of bed yourself.

Q:        What is a kitchen design "must have"?

With the rise of technology and smart phones, I think all kitchens need to have receptacle outlets equipped with USB ports.

Q:        A bathroom design "must have"?

Even exhaust fans have enhanced technology now. If you like to sing in the shower, we can install an exhaust fan with a Bluetooth speaker and LED lights; and if you prefer peace and quiet, there are fan units with remote loaders – meaning the motor is in another section of the house and you won’t hear the fan running. 

Q:        How can people be efficient and save money on their electric bill? What environmentally friendly options are out there?

LED lights are the way to go. In terms of efficiency there is a significant difference – they use a third of the wattage as traditional bulbs. Avoid CFL lights at all cost. They may be energy-efficient, but they’re environmentally costly. Each light bulb contains enough mercury to contaminate 6,000 gallons of water.

Q:        Do you have to update all the wiring when you’re doing a kitchen renovation or a bathroom remodel?

No, you only have to update the wiring if it’s bad or outdated. Chances are when you open up a wall during a remodel you’re going to find a few things that need to be replaced.

Q:        What about regular maintenance?

I think it’s most important that homeowners check their GCFI electrical outlets frequently. These outlets are used in areas where water is likely to appear - kitchens, bathrooms, or outside. Regular testing will ensure these outlets work properly and eliminate risk of electrical shock.

Q:        What is the biggest electrical “no-no” that you often find on a job?

One of the most common issues I find are open splices. A splice is the connection of two or more wires and an open splice is when it is not contained in a box. Homeowners who dabble in some “minor” electrical work often leave these projects unfinished due to time constraints or lack of knowledge. The problem is an open splice is more likely to ignite if left exposed.

Q:        Is there anything else a homeowner needs to know before hiring an electrician?

First and foremost make sure all of your contractors are licensed and insured. It’s also prudent to ask what kind of warranty they offer on parts and labor.  

Lang’s Kitchen and Bath has extensive experience in bathroom and kitchen renovations.  Together with our highly-qualified team of subcontractors, we will help you design a space that enhances your lifestyle. Visit our design galleries to view our projects and get ideas or contact us today to get started!