Do I need an electrician or just a handyman?
May 4, 2018 7:19 PM   Subscribe

I'm not very handy myself and am outsourcing a lot of smallish home improvement projects. I'm unsure whether the following tasks can be done by a handyman (so far extremely reliable but, you know, not an expert) or whether I'd be better off with a professional electrician:

-replacing exterior floodlights (current ones hanging precariously off house and are fugly)
-replacing lamppost in yard (current one is rusted through and tilting down the hill in the yard)
-replacing some chandeliers inside with ceiling-mounted lights (need more clearance)

I'm not trying to do any fancy re-wiring--just swap out fixtures (though I also don't know what we might find when we take off the current lights). Any general rules of thumb for when to shell out more $$? I'm not looking for super-fancy lighting schemes and just don't want my house to burn down.
posted by TwoStride to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
My rule of thumb is that if you need to replace a fixture, a handyman can do it. Or you can DIY, if you're the DIY type. If it involves a new installation, like putting a light where none has been, it's best to have an electrician do the job.
posted by DrGail at 7:34 PM on May 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

This is handyman territory, but can wildy string into actual electrician territory depending.

It all depends on what they find when they open they fixture.

I would go Handyman for the first two. Replacing lights and fixtures is super easy, and if they run into anything, they are good about telling you.

The only thing I balk about is the chandelier thing replacing lights. Interior wiring can be far more complex. I had an electrician do that for my house. It went perfect.
posted by sanka at 7:41 PM on May 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

Former electrician's assistant here. DrGail and sanka are right. If it involves running new wire, opening the breaker panel or replacing a fixture with something else (i.e. putting a light where an outlet was or vice versa) call an electrician.
posted by donpardo at 7:43 PM on May 4, 2018 [2 favorites]

Interior lights get more complicated, but only slightly, if you have a three way switch (ie two or more switches control the same fixture). That’s when it’s worth it to call an electrician.
posted by samthemander at 10:12 PM on May 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think I would go with an electrician on the outdoor lamp post also, if only to certify that it's rated for outdoor service and ground fault circuit interrupters. The rust above seems to suggest water problems below as well. It maybe a pee-mail target for boy dogs in the neighborhood.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 8:38 AM on May 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

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