When Do I Need an Electrician?

It’s never been easier for homeowners to try to do their own electrical work. With solutions just a click away on Google or YouTube, DIY confidence has never been higher. You can locate step-by-step guides for just about any electrical installation or repair project. There are hundreds of videos and tutorials for everything from electrical outlet and ceiling fan installation to major projects like wiring a new electrical panel for your backyard shed.

Doing your own electrical work can seem like a great way to save time and money. So, how do you know when you should call an electrician?
The real answer is surprisingly simple – call a certified electrician for any electrical project around your home! If you don’t, you’re risking injury, damage to your home, and many other expensive problems. At Westphal & Co, our experienced team of licensed electricians is here to handle all of your needs, whether you’re on the isthmus in Madison or our in the countryside of Southern Wisconsin. Here are a few examples of electrical repair and installation projects that always require a trained professional.

ELECTRICAL OUTLET INSTALLATION & REPLACEMENT
There are many blog posts, articles, and videos online claiming that installing or replacing your own electrical outlets is safe and easy. All you have to do is turn off the room’s circuit breaker, and the rest is simple, right? Wrong! Installing or replacing an electrical outlet or light switch is a project that requires a trained, licensed electrician. It’s surprisingly easy to get the wiring wrong.

At best, a poorly wired outlet simply won’t work. At worst, it will cause a short that can damage your hardware or even cause a fire. It just isn’t worth taking that chance!

LIGHT FIXTURE REPAIR & REPLACEMENT
New light fixtures can transform the look of a room. It’s a surprisingly cost-effective upgrade that can brighten your home’s interior and create a premium look that potential buyers will love. But, is it really as easy as removing the old fixture, twisting a few wires together, and installing the new fixture? It isn’t. In reality, there’s a lot that can go awry if you wire and install a new light fixture yourself.

As with electrical outlets, a DIY light fixture replacement risks everything from a non-functioning fixture to serious damage to the fixture and your wiring to shorts and electrical fires. Don’t cut corners with your new light fixtures! Just call Westphal & Co, and we’ll provide a fast, affordable professional installation.

CEILING FAN INSTALLATION & REPAIR
A ceiling fan can make a room much more comfortable in nearly any season, potentially saving you money by keeping the AC or furnace off longer or running less overall. It may seem obvious that new ceiling fan installations aren’t a DIY project, but a surprising number of homeowners attempt these projects themselves. Any time there’s the need to install new wiring in your home’s walls or ceiling, you need to hire a trained professional.

ELECTRICAL PANEL WORK
Electrical panels take the electricity from the grid and separates it into various circuits throughout your home. They also route the electricity through circuit breakers, which cut the electrical flow when a short or surge is detected. These are incredibly important systems, and they’re also highly technical pieces of equipment that are very easy to install incorrectly. Faulty electrical panel wiring can lead to poor power quality, unreliability, or even dangerous faults that can cause expensive damage or even a fire. If you’ve finishing your basement or thinking of an addition, don’t take any chances with your electrical panel.

Why Use a Licensed Electrician?
Here are a few of the many reasons why you shouldn’t risk doing electrical work yourself. Consider the points below, and you’ll see why calling Westphal & Co for a licensed electrician is the best way to handle any electrical project.

Risking Shorts & Fires
If the wiring in your home isn’t installed correctly, or wires are too close together, electricity can jump between them. This is called a short-circuit, or just a “short”. Shorts cause lots of heat to build up, potentially melting your wiring, damaging the surrounding areas, or even causing an electrical fire that could destroy your home. Not only is doing your own electrical work dangerous, it could also lead to major tragedy.

Complying with Building Codes
The dangers of faulty wiring has led to building codes requiring a licensed electrician to handle any wiring work. These codes are surprisingly detailed and complex, and noncompliance can be dangerous and make your home hard or impossible to sell. Electricians study building codes extensively, so we know exactly how to handle your project safely, legally, and reliably. Don’t risk expensive fines or trouble selling your home in the future!

Risking Greater Costs in the Future
There are many ways DIY electrical work can end up costing you more than hiring a professional electrician in the long run. First, you could cause expensive damage to your wiring, electrical panel, or fixtures. You could also cause a fire that might destroy some or all of your home. Finally, noncompliance with building codes could lead to expensive fines, lower home value, and difficulty selling in the future. Any of these issues will be more expensive than having the work done properly in the first place!

Need Help with an electrical project for your home? Contact Westphal & Co today!

What Factors Do You Need to Know Before Trying a Home Generator Installation?

Are you thinking about installing a generator for you home? Consider the following factors before you try a home installation. If these matters are more than you bargained for, contact Westphal for professional guidance!

Electrical Connection—Backup generators use an automatic transfer switch that detects when there’s a power outage and instinctively starts the generator. Depending on the design of your generator installation at your home, the switch may transfer control of your electrical power to a separate breaker panel box, sending electricity to the circuits you have chosen to have powered. It’s important to understand the connectivity of a home generator before attempting a self-installation.

Plumbing Connection—Using natural gas or Liquefied Petroleum gas (LP gas) to power your home generator requires that your generator installation includes connecting the gas line or propane tank to the generator. Be sure to purchase and install the correct valve that correlates to the type of gas you have.

Building Permits—Make sure you check to see if there are any restrictions or rules through your HOA or building agreements before starting an install. Depending on your location, you may need a building permit for your installation as well as for possible inspections once the installation is completed.

Installation Location—It’s important to know where your generator install should take place. Be sure to follow specific manufacturer’s guidelines for proximity to your home. You will need to consider the proximity of your unit to other household functions including windows and vents.

It is important to understand the importance of a safe installation. We recommend contacting a Westphal electrical professional to learn more before installing a home generator. Attempting to do a home generator installation yourself could result in a variety of different complications or damaging scenarios including electrocution, gas leaks, and carbon monoxide poisoning.

Installing a home generator requires understanding and expertise for a smooth and safe installation. Westphal Company not only can install your generator correctly, but they can also help you throughout the entire process from choosing the right size unit to the installation location. Call our team now for a free in–home assessment. Our licensed residential electrical professional will guide you through the process and discuss your backup needs, installation process, and answer any questions or concerns you may have. Contact us at (608) 222-0105 or learn more about our other residential services at www.westphalec.com.

Upgrading to a Smart Home

If you’re thinking about adding Smart Home or Home Automation products throughout your existing home, you might also want to consider upgrading your home’s electrical components, as well.

If you are adding a whole-house smart switches, electric blinds, smart appliances, or a complete home sound system, you are definitely going to need to update outlets and fixtures and may even need to run new wiring runs. There may even be some special needs, as well, like calculating the electric loads for appliances and entertainment.

HOME UPGRADES
If the home is older and still uses electrical fuses, this is a great time to also change from fuses to breakers. No one likes looking for the right sized fuse as a replacement when one blows out due to a power surge or system overload. It is much more convenient to simply switch a circuit breaker back on.

THE ELCTRICAL SYSTEM BALANCE
Having a balanced electrical system is the key to keeping the circuits from blowing due to overload. It’s inconvenient to not have enough electrical outlets where they are needed. Also, safety is a big issue because one of the most dangerous fire hazards may come from trying to plug too many things into one outlet. One renegade spark can cause the whole house to go up in flames.

REPLACING OLD LIGHT FIXTURES, OUTLETS, AND SWITCHES
When adding a lot of new fixtures, including adding smart switches and fixtures, it should be part of your plan to have an electrical contractor take a look at the entire home and to replace old light fixtures, outlets, and switches that are in poor condition. In fact, it’s easier to do this work all at once in order to have the best result. Also, your electrician should check for proper grounding of the home to prevent the occupants from getting an electrical shock by accident.

Your electrician can install surge protectors where they are necessary. This protection keeps delicate and expensive electronic equipment from being harmed by electrical energy spikes that can come from power failure or lightning strikes

ADDITIONAL SMART HOME UPGRADES
Even though you are already working towards a smarter home, it’s still the best time to evaluate any additional options that could improve the entire experience for you as the homeowner. An example is one that operates exterior safety lighting on a regular schedule and in response to darkness and daylight. It can also be the time to install a system to help manage the energy efficiency of the entire home. This may help you save significant money on the monthly utility bills. Talk over the possibilities with your electrician to learn more about the innovative technology that is now available.

For all your electrical needs, you can count on Westphal & Co. Contact us to receive a free quote for your renovation project and any other electrical system needs you may have.

Dane-Iowa Wastewater Treatment Plant

Water & Wastewater PORTFOLIO

Dane-Iowa Wastewater Treatment Plant

Dane-Iowa Wastewater Commission, Mazomanie, WI

SPECIFICATIONS

LOCATION

Mazomanie, WI

CLIENT

Staab Construction Corp.

CONTRACT AMOUNT

$1.25MM

This waste water treatment facility located in Mazomanie, WI contains six structures, including oxidation ditches, clarifiers, headworks, UV, and administration buildings. Westphal & Co. provided all electrical installation, control wiring, and startup coordination.

Namasco Steel – New Facility

Industrial PORTFOLIO

Namasco Steel – New Facility

Kloeckner Metals (formerly Namasco), Dubuque, IA

SPECIFICATIONS

LOCATION

Dubuque, IA

CLIENT

Conlon Construction Co.

CONTRACT AMOUNT

$500,000

FEATURED

Power and lighting to an outdoor loading dock

Photo Credit: Kloeckner Metals

Namasco is a steel warehouse and fabrication factory that imports, houses, and fabricates all sizes of plate and beam steel. Products are then distributed to manufacturers and other fabricators. Our installation included power, lighting, and voice, data, and video cabling for the warehouse and office areas. We also installed power and lighting to an outdoor loading dock which holds four 50-ton bridge cranes.

GOEX Corporation

Industrial PORTFOLIO

Goex Corporation

GOEX Corporation, Janesville, WI

SPECIFICATIONS

LOCATION

Janesville, WI

SIZE

153,600 SF

CLIENT

GOEX Corporation

CONTRACT AMOUNT

$400,000

FEATURED

3 3000 amp, 480 volt services

This design-build manufacturing project included a 106,000 square-foot manufacturing area, 40,000 square feet of warehouse space, and a 7,600 square-foot, two-story office. Our scope included three 3000 amp, 480 volt services feeding 750 feet of 3000 amp bus duct on the manufacturing floor, and 400 feet of 1200 amp buss duct in a tunnel under the factory floor. The entire facility is illuminated with LED light fixtures using one third of the fixtures required with typical fluorescent lighting.

Jones Dairy Farm – South

Industrial PORTFOLIO

Jones Dairy Farm - South

Jones Dairy, Fort Atkinson, WI

SPECIFICATIONS

LOCATION

Fort Atkinson, WI

SIZE

42,000 SF

CLIENT

Maas Brothers Construction

CONTRACT AMOUNT

$2.7MM

FEATURED

New equipment for full facility

Photo Credit: ESI Group USA

The overall project scope is demolition and build back of a new, 18,000 square-foot production building, as well as demolition and build back of a 24,000 square-foot area in the center of the main building. Additional work includes remodel of almost the entire facility and new equipment such as ovens, cooking equipment, mechanical equipment, and electrical equipment.

Kraft/Oscar Mayer J-Con II Project

Industrial PORTFOLIO

Kraft/Oscar Mayer J-Con II Project

Kraft Foods, Madison, WI

SPECIFICATIONS

LOCATION

Madison, WI

SIZE

97,000 SF

CLIENT

Kraft Foods

CONTRACT AMOUNT

$4.6M

FEATURED

5kV substation to power the new facility

Photo Credit: Findorff

This project consisted of a 97,000 square-foot renovation that converted storage space into a food processing and manufacturing facility. The electrical work included the installation of a 5kV substation to power the new facility, with no downtime for the existing plant. The scope of work also included the installation of stainless steel raceways, new lighting, and power and controls for food processing equipment. The equipment includes industrial ovens, meat grinders, and conveyors.

Swiss Valley Cheese Production Facility

Industrial PORTFOLIO

Swiss Valley Cheese Production Facility

Swiss Valley Farms, Luana, IA

SPECIFICATIONS

LOCATION

Luana, IA

CLIENT

Conlon Construction Co.

CONTRACT AMOUNT

$1.2M

FEATURED

New process equipment connections

Photo Credit: Dairy Foods Magazine

This major remodeling of state-of-the-art production facilities for Swiss Valley’s premiere Swiss cheese factory included new primary electrical service, lighting, low voltage systems, and process equipment connections. All construction was completed at USDA and FDA food production facility standards. Swiss Valley is a leader in the manufacturing of Swiss and Baby Swiss cheese, the most difficult of all cheeses to produce.

General Motors Paint Shop Addition

Industrial PORTFOLIO

General Motors Paint Shop Addition

General Motors Corporation, Lansing, MI

SPECIFICATIONS

LOCATION

Lansing, MI

CLIENT

DACS International, Inc.

CONTRACT AMOUNT

$2.2MM

FEATURED

Pendulum conveyors interlocked with robotic cells

Photo Credit: General Motors

Westphal & Co., Inc. completed installation of a material handling conveyor for the General Motors Paint Shop facility located in Lansing, MI. The plant was built to meet new demand for Cross-Over-Vehicles (CUV’s). The project included skid conveyors, inverted mono-rail conveyors, and pendulum conveyors interlocked with robotic cells, paint booths, ovens, and dip tanks. Field wiring installation for 36 separate conveyor systems was completed, including control devices, motors, interlocks, Ethernet cabling, and Devicenet cabling.

GM Error Proofing System

Industrial PORTFOLIO

GM Error Proofing System

General Motors Corporation, Bowling Green, KY

SPECIFICATIONS

LOCATION

Bowling Green, KY

CLIENT

General Motors Corporation

CONTRACT AMOUNT

$1.7M

FEATURED

Installation of 480V power

Photo Credit: Bowling Green Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

Westphal & Co., Inc. completed the installation of error-proofing and add-on system located at the Corvette Plant in Bowling Green, KY. The project included installation of 480V power, control cabling, cable tray, barcode readers, pull switches, stack lights, pendant lights, selector switches, operator interface (HMI systems), panelviews, and lightboards (Bingo Boards).

GM Skillet Conveyor System

Industrial PORTFOLIO

GM Skillet Conveyor System

General Motors Corporation, Shreveport, LA

SPECIFICATIONS

LOCATION

Shreveport, LA

CLIENT

Acco Systems

CONTRACT AMOUNT

$2MM

FEATURED

Field wiring for 20 conveyor systems and over 175 conveyor elements

Photo Credit: Central Conveyor

Installation of Skillet Conveyor and Automated Electrified Monorail systems for new Light Duty Trim Shop located in Shreveport, LA. The plant was built to meet new demand for light-duty trucks. The project included installation of skillet conveyor and AEM conveyor for final and trim lines including pit wiring, vertical lifts, stackers, de-stackers, and IMC load stations. Westphal & Co. installed field wiring for 20 separate conveyor systems and over 175 separate conveyor elements including control devices, motors, interlocks, and cabling for Ethernet, ControlNet, and Devicenet systems.