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Avoid Unlicensed Electrical Contractors

By Mike Holmes Jr.

Mike’s Advice / Home Safety & Maintenance

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020 @ 4:06pm
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Electrical work is inherently risky, and unfortunately, there are unlicensed contractors advertising their services which could put you and your family in danger.

I have been in the construction industry for well over a decade now and I have seen first-hand the dangerous work that unlicensed contractors have done. To keep you and your family safe from electrical harm I want to share three things that you should know before starting any work in your home that requires electrical work.

Red flags to look out for


It is possible that contractors who are not a Licensed Electrical Contractor (LEC) take advantage of unsuspecting individuals. As the individual contracting the work, you should never be asked by your contractor to file a notification of work (permit) for the job. This is a red flag that your contractor may not be qualified or is not following the regulations administered by the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) to keep you and your family safe. Also, be aware of contractors who offer a discount if you pay them in cash or won’t provide a receipt, this is a common practice of fraudulent and unlicensed electrical contractors. Remember, cash is not traceable.

In the short term you may be saving a little bit of money but chances are in the long run, you will end up paying more.

Hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor


You wouldn’t think twice about hiring a professional lawyer, accountant or mechanic, and you would never trust an uncertified doctor to perform a surgery, so why would you trust an unlicensed contractor or handyman to do electrical work in your home? In Ontario, only a Licensed Electrical Contractor can legally do electrical work for hire. Even if you are using a general contractor, all electrical work must be completed by the Electrical Contractor licensed by ESA. The LEC will file the necessary notification of work (permit) and provide a Certificate from ESA when work is complete. The Certificate from ESA is your proof that the work was done according to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. 

Verify their ECRA/ESA licence number 


Hiring a Licensed Electrical Contractor takes a little bit of homework. By asking a contractor for their ECRA/ESA licence number and verifying it on esasafe.com’s Contractor Look-Up tool, you can ensure that they are qualified to do the work. This number should be on their work vehicle, business card, and any estimates related to the job. Beware of unlicensed contractors that do not have an ECRA/ESA licence number visible on their vehicles or those who may falsely use the licence number of another Licensed Electrical Contractor. Always check at ESAsafe.com to ensure the ECRA/ESA licence number matches their company name. 

As a homeowner, it’s important to educate yourself on what to expect from anyone performing work at your home. You may know someone who can do the work cheap but consider the real cost if something goes wrong. Before starting electrical work in your home, find or verify a Licensed Electrical Contractor in your area. Visit esasafe.com.

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