risky wiring electrical services

The electrician you’re looking for doesn’t actually exist.

There are a lot of ads for electricians on Kijiji. Some of these electricians are really great ones who you can trust. Some are shady ones that could put your home at risk. The ad you clicked on was our way of helping you learn how to tell the difference between the two. And it all boils down to whether or not they have an ECRA/ESA licence number.

The first thing to look for is an ECRA/ESA licence number

The ad you found said a lot of reassuring things—details about the electrician’s years of experience, skills and references. But what the ad did NOT include is an ECRA/ESA licence number. Every Licensed Electrical Contractor (LEC) is required to include their licence number in their ad. If they don’t, then ask for it, or find another electrician.

The only way to be sure that your electrical work is safe and legal is to hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor (LEC) who takes out an ESA permit for the work. 

Find or verify that your electrician is an LEC using ESA’s find a contractor tool

Here’s how an LEC protects your home and family

In Ontario it’s illegal to hire an electrician who doesn’t have an ECRA/ESA licence number. 

Here’s why:

  • Poor electrical work can cause electrical shocks, fires, even death. Only LECs have the expertise, equipment, and training to do the job safely.
  • LECs are bonded and fully insured, which is the only way to be sure that you, the homeowner, won’t be held responsible if there’s an accident on the job.
  • LECs are required to file for an ESA permit (you should insist that they do), which means their work will be reviewed by the ESA. 
  • LECs will provide an ESA Certificate of Acceptance after the electrical work is reviewed and approved.

Red flags to keep an eye out for

If you notice any of the following, chances are the electrician you’re considering or hired may not actually be an LEC.

  • They aren’t listed as a licensed contractor on ESA’s Find a Contractor tool.
  • There’s no ECRA/ESA licence number in their ad or on their work vehicle.
  • The electrician won’t show you their licence number when you ask for it.
  • They do more than just electrical work, like drywall, flooring, plumbing, snow removal, or other home improvement.
  • They ask you to get the ESA permit or say you don’t need one. It is the LEC’s responsibility to take out the electrical permit on your behalf. 
  • They offer a discount if you pay cash, they accept only cash, and/or won’t provide a receipt.
  • They say you don’t need to involve your local electric utility to change your electrical panel or upgrade your electrical service.
  • They say, “If anyone asks, tell them you did the work yourself.”

If you notice any of these red flags, it’s important that you report the company to the ESA so we can investigate.

Make sure your LEC files a permit with the ESA

When you hire an LEC, make sure they file a permit, also known as an electrical notification of work, with the ESA. An ESA electrical permit is separate from a building permit, as a building permit does not cover electrical work. An ESA permit creates a permanent record of the electrical work that has been done in your home and triggers a review process by ESA to ensure the work complies with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. It’s an added safeguard for you and your family.