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Here to Help With Your Project, Big or Small: An Interview with Electrician Ian Flanagan

By Kristen Bosse

Please describe a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

We are a 4 person full service electrical operation, one of my employees being my brother. We offer many different types of services on many different levels. For example, we do everything from small service calls to changing light fixtures, thermostats, running cable TV and phone lines to full scale renovations of houses, multi family houses, multi million dollar houses and commercial spaces such as restaurants and salons.

What is your position at your company?

I am Owner and President. I do wear many hats in my position such as: Estimating, Bidding, Invoicing, Scheduling and doing a couple service calls per week. The other 3 guys are always on the job whether it's big or small.

Have you noticed anything different in working on Boston apartments/residencies compared to suburban homes?

Boston houses in general are older than suburban homes, of course there are exceptions, but the suburban houses from my experience are generally about 50-70 years old or newer. The main differences between the eras are the building practices, from 100-120 years ago until today. I find it easier to work in older homes because there is a lot of dead space in older homes which makes getting wires from point A to point be B a little bit more efficient. However, this is not always the case, as the older houses sometimes have had work done to them over the years by the many different people who been there for the last 100 years and have built on or over an existing space of the house which we would find useful. For example maybe a single family house was made into a 2 family house and then made back to a single family at some point. In general there are pro's and con's to working in older or newer houses. We have experienced the best and the most challenging of all types of houses.

Some older houses were built with aluminum wiring which can be a fire hazard. What are your recommendations for customers with this problem? Should they re-wire their entire home?

There are very few houses left with aluminum wire. Although Aluminum wire is still used to feed panels. If there is any aluminum present in other parts of the house, it should be replaced immediately. Most of what I see is houses with Knob and Tube type wiring. This type of wiring was the Thomas Edison original, so it is at least 100 years old, or older. We replace this type of wiring frequently. The danger of this type of wiring is that there isn't a grounding conductor, which means there isn't any path for stray current to find its way back to the earth or ground. Typically stray current occurs if your house has been struck by lightning. Most insurance companies are also requiring this type of wiring to be removed if they are issuing new policy. I see this most when a house has recently been bought and the new owner is seeking a new policy.

What does a fuse or breaker do? What are the differences between the two?

A fuse and a breaker do the same job. They allow only a specific amount of current to flow to receptacles. It is important to restrict current because there are different sizes of wire and certain size wires can only handle a specific amount of current before over heating occurs, which in turn could cause a fire if the wire got too hot. The breaker can be reset; the fuse has to be replaced. It is important to make sure all breakers and fuses are in good working order.

What electrical services should be checked out as soon as a new homeowner settles in?

It is the most important to make sure all the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are good and still in date. Smoke and CO2 detectors are only good for 10 years from the date of manufacturing, the date can be found on the back of the devices.

What sets your business apart from other comparable companies? Is there anything you believe you do better/different?

We strive to treat every job and every client like they are our only client. We work hard to develop long term relationships so clients feel comfortable with us in their houses or business'. What I find to be a major point that sets apart is that we are professionals, we dress like professionals, we speak like professionals, and we show up when we say we are going to show up and do what we say we are going to do. People in this trade tend to forget that we are professional and that a certain level of professionalism must be met and presented every time we go to work. It shouldn't be any different than someone who works in an office or for a large company.

What should customers look for in a good electrician?

First, the customer should make sure the person they are hiring is a licensed electrician. It is also important that the person they might hire has experience in the particular project they want to do. For example, you shouldn't hire an industrial electrician for a residential job and vise versa. Lastly, you should look for someone who has references, to know that someone else has had a good experience with this person. Unfortunately, there are a lot of dishonest people in the construction world and it is crucial to hire someone with verified references.

What's the best way for people to get in contact with you?

Calling or email are equally good. My phone is: 617-999-9104 and email is

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