David Allen is the owner of JD Allen Services and a state-certified electrician. From inspections to repairs, he understands it all when it comes to electrical needs. He’ll join the Fusion Lounge with some incredible and eye-opening tips that we all need to be aware of.
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Read the Full Interview Below
Sarah: Good morning, everybody. It’s Friday, 8:00 a.m. Let me get this frog out of my throat. Let me try it again. Good morning! It’s Friday, 8:00 a.m. Biz Talk time. We’re so glad you joined us and let’s get started!
Glyna: Good morning.
Sarah: Good morning.
Glyna: Now I feel like I’ve got this airplane flying over, it’s so loud. It’s like, is it coming in? All right. It’s a great day in the Fusion One Lounge. I’m Glyna Humm and around the square here, we have our marketing guru Sarah Gilliland and Kelsi Munn Nicholson. We had a name change this last week! We are so happy to have all of you joining us today. We’re really having a lot of fun with this Biz Talk. We like to talk to local business people and get some tips from them that everybody can use. But before we get started, let’s take a look at our broadcast schedule.
Sarah: All right, guys, don’t forget, every week we go live on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, and you want to make sure you check out our great podcast, Marketing and a Mic and follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn and as always, make sure that you subscribe to our YouTube channel. We are always putting out new and fresh videos every single week, so you want to check that out.
Glyna: Perfect. Well, today we’re so excited about our guest. He has a lot of information and a lot of tips that everybody out there can use and just overall, he has just a wealth of knowledge in his industry. So I want to welcome David Allen with JD Allen Services. Welcome, sir.
David Allen: Good morning, ladies. How’s everyone this morning?
Glyna: Doing great. How about yourself?
David Allen: Oh, we’re good. Just waiting on these clouds to clear out. It’s kind of muggy today here where we are.
Glyna: It really is. I was really hoping for sunshine, but hey, we will just make the best of it.
David Allen: That’s right.
Glyna: Well David, if you would, if you’d start out by just telling us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been in your industry.
David Allen: Okay. Yes. David Allen’s my name. JD Allen Services. We’re located in Chelsea, Alabama. Electrical contractor now 25 years. We started our business in 1995 when my youngest daughter was born, just shortly after she was born. We are an electrical contractor. Primarily these days, the last five years or so, we are devoted to the service industry. That is primarily what we do in the electrical business, but we serve as a state-certified electrical contractor and independent electrical inspections and we literally work all over the state of Alabama.
Sarah: Yeah. I got to tell you when we talked earlier this week, there was something that I felt like was such an important distinction, it was really eye-opening about your business, and that is that your a state-certified electrician. So what does that mean and why does every single viewer need to pay attention to that before hiring an electrician?
David Allen: Well, the law in Alabama changed in 2011 that basically stated that all electrical work done within the boundaries of the state of Alabama shall be done by a state-certified electrician. What that entails is an apprenticeship program and then a very rigorous testing format for a journeyman-level electrician and then ultimately a master-level electrician. So basically when that law changed, you want to make sure that anybody that you hire to do electrical work in your home or office or business has that state certification. Basically, it states that they typically have a broad knowledge of how the permitting system works, how inspection services works and how the application of electrical systems should be installed. So, it’s a huge liability protection thing for the homeowner to make sure that they’re using state-certified folks. And don’t ever hesitate to ask your electrician to identify himself by showing his state of Alabama-issued card, which is a way that we identify ourselves.
Kelsi: Okay. So, if a customer is searching for an electrician, aside from simply asking to provide those credentials, what should they be on the lookout to make sure that they are actually looking at hiring a certified electrician?
David Allen: Well, I mean, it’s actually pretty simple. Whenever you engage in this conversation with anybody doing electrical work for you, one of the first things to ask would be, do you have a state of Alabama-issued electrician’s card? Basically, those cards are issued at journeyman level and master level electricians and when you ask for that card, no one should be offended by presenting that card. It actually takes a lot of work and for most of us, approximately 8000 hours of apprenticeship time prior to being eligible for taking that test. So it’s always wise to ask that individual for identifying themselves with that state card.
Glyna: Awesome. It’s very important to have the right credentials. I mean, I know anybody can walk around and say, “Hey, I’ll get that done for you.” Or “I can do electrical work for you.” So you really don’t want to just have your brother-in-law come over on Thanksgiving and put up a ceiling fan for you, do you?
David Allen: That’s exactly right, Glyna. It’s really amazing at some of the work that we see out here. I had a lady call me one day and ask that I hang a ceiling fan in her… in a bedroom. When I get to the lady’s house, she had this bedroom set up for a toddler that was like a two-year-old, and she said that the previous electrician that installed the fan obviously made a mistake. When I walked into the bedroom, the ceiling fan was laying on the floor and the wires stripped out of the ceiling and it was laying on the floor. Could you imagine what would happen had that fan hit that toddler in the floor while they’re playing? There’s so many rules. The book that guides us is the National Electrical Code. It literally is about a two-inch-thick book that gets a tremendous number of additions and changes as the day goes. The National Electrical Code is an evolutionary book and guidance for us doing installations that changes repeatedly based on anomalies that are identified in the electrical industry. So, lots of reasons why you should make sure that you hire a certified electrician. They know the ratings on the boxes that are equipped to accommodate that fan during its running and the weight and the vibration and what not. Not to mention the actual wiring of the light, of the fixture, the fan, or whatever is they’re doing. You don’t want to just have somebody come in that knows how to twist a couple of wires together. If in fact, they’ve overloaded a circuit, then you’ve got an even bigger issue potentially brewing behind the walls that you’re never aware of until many times it’s too late.
Glyna: Wow. Well, we do have a lot of people joining us this morning. I’m going to run through the crew over here. I think you’ll recognize a lot of them. We have Lance Gilliland joining us this morning. We have Steve Johnson, LaVon Chaney, Andy Entrekin, Cindy Edmunds, Melissa Dixon, Lynn Ray, Jacob Vail. I definitely know his name. And Gayle Mason. And Jacob said, “Yeah, you can have your brother-in-law come over as long as his name’s David Allen. It’s like if your brother-in-law’s David Allen, he can fix your ceiling fan.
Glyna: So, Sarah, I’m going to go ahead and let you go to your question.
Sarah: Sure. Yeah, so well, I just lost this here. You don’t want to do your question, Glyna?
Glyna: Sure. Okay. I know, David, you get lots of referrals for inspection services that are using litigation. Tell us why you really are so heavily involved in that part of it.
David Allen: I think, generally speaking, I was involved in a job actually on Smith Lake a number of years ago. This was a very high-end property, about a $2 million property where the owner had hired a contractor to build their home, and then during the process of the construction, which was about an 18-month construction time period, he had a number of issues that led to him having to get rid of that contractor. Had to fire him and get somebody else, and when we did that, he initiated a process that when he hired the second person to come in, they determined that the first individual that was there was not a licensed contractor. So what that amounted to, this was a timber frame home. Just a picturesque property on Smith Lake on one of those mountains up there overlooking the water. And he initiated a process and we determined through a series of inspections that the individual that did the wiring and his company was not a certified electrical contractor, and so it was not wired properly. So if you can imagine spending $2 million on your dream home, your forever home, your retirement home, and then only to discover that GFCI protection doesn’t work. There’s no arc fault protection. There are no interconnected smoke detectors throughout the property. Very poor grounding practices throughout, then you can imagine when you found that out, you would be very upset. He had a boat dock that was basically $100,000 boat dock or thereabouts and it was wired improperly. And so yearly, we here in the US see about 300 cases of electrocutions resulting in death or injury here in the US. So when folks are in the water at a boat dock, swimming pool or hot tub, and this particular guy had all three, he and his wife, they were concerned about the little tingle that they felt when they were coming in and out of the water when they would touch the ladders or whatnot trying to get out of the water. So it’s those kinds of scenarios that ushered me into that area. He needed an inspection that resulted in the identification of all the mishaps and all the missteps during the wiring process, and he ultimately used that in litigation against the general contractor that took so much of his money. So, that’s how I got ushered into that. And then over the course of time, that was in about 2005, in 2011 the state of Alabama initiated and signed into law new laws regarding that all electricians be state-certified. And so ultimately what I found is a market that litigation needs to be taken care of in order to identify the issues where unlicensed, irresponsible contractors have walked off jobs and have created some pretty severe anomalies for the people living there. So, it’s a process in which we identify those issues and hopefully, the end result is to get the property, whatever it is, safe and habitable for those that are living there and using the property. So, that’s what got me into it, and then we determined or discovered that there’s actually a big need for this throughout the state of Alabama, and I’m sure all over the entire country. So, the days of being able to hire your nephew or your cousin to come to do something for you, a lot of people still do that, but I strongly recommend against it if he is not or they are not… there’s actually some ladies that are very qualified electrical contractors as well. So, we highly recommend that you get a certified person. At least you’re going to know that they’re going to make all effort to make corrections where needed and make sure that your property is safe for habitation and first responders.
Glyna: Yeah. People just don’t even think how dangerous it is to have someone who’s not certified and the bad things that can happen. I’ve seen and heard a few cases, so that’s very important. And a couple of people joining in today are talking about how great you are, which we all know that. Melissa Dixon said that she’s done business with David and his guys and they’re top-notch. She won’t use anyone else. And Lynn Ray said David is awesome. Very responsive and quick to get the job done right. And then Cindy Edmunds, she said that you guys are the best, that you’ve done a lot of work for her personally as well as several of her clients and would highly recommend you.
David Allen: Thank you. Thank you so much, everyone!
Glyna: We know your reputation is stellar in the area and that’s very important to know not only is he certified, but he knows what he’s doing.
David Allen: Thank you.
Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. So, speaking of mishaps and the inspection process and just kind of improper wiring, do you ever come across those types of situations with real estate transactions?
David Allen: Yes. Actually, that’s a very common area. Whenever people are selling or buying a property is that if a home was built let’s say in the ’70s or ’80s, many times it was built according to the code that was enforced at that time. And then, of course, the evolution of the code requirements changing every so often, basically it brings in areas where you may have some anomalies that by today’s standards we would recommend to make those corrections. So yes, we do see quite a bit in the real estate industry.
Kelsi: You’d probably see it at my house too. It was built in 1930.
Glyna: Don’t go to Kelsi’s!
Kelsi: No, please do! So, I’ve got to know, what’s the most common issue that you run into in your line of work?
David Allen: Oh well, I think some of the more common items that we run into are areas that require GFCI protection, ground fault circuit interruption protection. Those would be areas that are either outside at entrance points of your property, near wet locations, on your kitchen countertop, bathrooms, garages, around all pool equipment, spas, boat docks, things of that nature. GFCI is a device that’s designed to trip the power or trip the device, which opens up the circuit prior to damage to a person that may get in the circuit. So ultimately we see a lot of GFCI protection that’s been violated and a lot of times they were installed properly during the inspection process, but yet something tripped at some point, and rather than taking the time to go and identify what that anomaly is creating the device from tripping, a lot of times people just eliminate the device. And when you eliminate the device, you may be able to put it on a standard breaker that would hold that in balance because ultimately what the GFCI is doing is it’s monitoring the supply and the return voltage on a circuit and when it’s around water and damp areas, it’s extremely critical. And I see where people have eliminated or either there was no GFCI protection installed initially, and that’s a huge thing that we see in our industry. That’s probably one of the most common items that we find. Another thing that we see a lot of is smoke detectors. I served on a board of directors for a two-year term at a fire department in a community that I lived in a number of years ago, and there’s nothing worse than being an inspector or either going to that fire with your first responders and you see that someone was hurt gravely or possibly even passed as a result of smoke inhalation. So, the National Electrical Code is designed to protect those people that are in that house as well as the first responders. So, we see a lot of smoke detectors that, even if they’re wired to current standards, once a battery in a smoke detector gets weak, that battery starts chirping. How many of you have witnessed or heard a chirping battery in your home? Okay. So we recommend changing those batteries every six months and cleaning the smoke detectors and making sure that they work properly. So, we want to make sure that if you have a family, you’re staying in a… whoever the inhabitants are, if they’re in that property, we want to make sure they’re properly notified in the event of a smoke anomaly or anything else that’s going on that could jeopardize life and people in that home, or business, wherever the property is.
Glyna: Perfect. I never even thought about cleaning my smoke detectors, but I think that’s important.
David Allen: We get a lot of calls where people say, “Hey, my smoke detector’s chirping. It’s making this noise,” and we go out there and we find that basically they just need to be taken down, they need to be cleaned out with the proper cleaning agent that I can clean inside that smoke detector, put a fresh battery in, check all the connections, put everything back together and then test every device in the home. The way smoke detectors are installed now and have been for a long time, 20 some odd years, is that when one smoke detector in the property goes off, they all go off. So, if you’re working a place for the public, then you’re going to see strobe lights and you’ll hear audibles come on telling people to evacuate. Well, in the home, that process is replaced by interconnected smoke detectors, so literally, you’ll hear them over the entire property. If you’re in a 10,000 square foot home, you’re still going to hear all of the smoke detectors. And if you’re behind a closed door in a bedroom sleeping, you’re going to be awakened, for most people if they don’t have a hearing impairment, and then ultimately get out and head to your safe place outside. So, and another… let me take a moment to say this. We strongly recommend that families do some evacuation policies with your children. Teach your children when they hear these, let’s get out of the house and have our little meeting place outside and do a headcount, make sure that everybody’s safe. That’s just a huge thing that we strongly recommend. OSHA has a huge involvement in the electrical industry and we take those things seriously. We recommend that to all of our customers.
Glyna: Perfect. So, I know you can come in and help people check these things, so how would someone check to see if they have a poor GFCI installation? Is that something you would need to do or-
David Allen: Yes, ma’am. Yes, ma’am. There’s a number of ways that we test those. We have test devices that we can either plug into or either go to the breaker. In extreme cases, we can inject current through those devices and make sure. But ultimately, the device itself has a test button on it. UL Laboratories has placed a certification on that device that says that we recognize that if you press this button, that is an adequate test. So if you have that GFCI at a kitchen countertop, realize that you may have a plug or receptacle that has a little test button on it and a reset button, but there may be another receptacle or possibly two downstream from that, that may not look like that. But when that one trips it takes out the next ones in line, depending on how many there are and how they’re wired. Ultimately if you, as a homeowner, go to that device and you press that button and the reset button pops out on it, you’ve successfully tested that device. That’s a UL listed test device that states that you as a homeowner, if you were to press that, then you would see at your level that it actually did trip or not. If it does not trip, then you certainly need to call a certified electrician and let them come in and see what’s going on.
Glyna: Okay. Perfect.
Kelsi: Didn’t know that.
Glyna: And Sarah, could you grab a couple of people? I know LaVon has a question other there.
Sarah: Yeah, I sure can. Let me get through… there are so many comments. We love it. So LaVon asks are you strictly residential or do you do commercial work as well?
David Allen: We do it all. Ultimately, as an electrical contractor, having been in business for as long as we have, and we’re also a member of the Better Business Bureau, so that’s a huge presence for us in the industry. We want folks to know that we are who we say we are. Ultimately we do pretty much anything electrical, industrial, and commercial; however, in the last five years or so we’ve made a conscious decision to focus on service, the service industry. We do quite a bit of insurance claims. If you have lightning hit your house or something like that, once a meter has been pulled out, then you have to have your property re-certified with the inspection services in a coordinated effort between the inspectors and myself and the power company. To answer your question do we do commercial? Yes, ma’am, we do commercial service; however, to wire buildings is going to take a much larger contractor with more employees than I have. I am getting older and wanting to basically get away from some of the stress associated with your everyday strains of contracting. It’s a very demanding industry to live in. So if you have a building or if you’re in a commercial environment, we do a lot of work in gyms, but it’s in the service industry. It’s based on when something’s not working, call us, we’ll come fix it.
David Allen: I was all over the place answering that question. I apologize for that.
Glyna: It’s perfect.
Sarah: Oh, no. You answered it. You answered it. So, let’s talk about some tips with homeowners, and kind of going back to, you had talked about smoke detectors and I like Jacob’s comment here which is, “The chirping only starts in the middle of the night at our house.”
Glyna: Ours too.
Sarah: Isn’t that the truth?
David Allen: It always does.
Sarah: So true. It’s like right when you’re in that real deep sleep and it’s like “chirp-chirp.” And all you want to do is just take a broom and bust it.
David Allen: That’s right. That’s right. That’s exactly right. It seems that way. I mean, you’d be amazed and how many customers call and say, “Guess what happened, and in the middle of the night.” So really, it’s amazing that that happens.
Sarah: Yes. So I wanted to ask you if you’ve got some tips for homeowners to help prevent minor electrical issues from becoming some major ones.
David Allen: Oh, my gosh. Notify somebody at the immediate onset of an anomaly. So if you see a breaker… if you have a breaker trip, so in other words, say for example the housewife, she’s vacuuming. She has her vacuum cleaner plugged into an outlet in the living room and she’s vacuuming and she’s been doing this for a number of years, well, all of a sudden one day she plugs it in and it goes off and then she calls her husband or whoever. They go look at the electrical panel. She may go to look at the electrical panel and open that door and see a breaker in a tripped position, and then she just resets it and goes about her business. If you see that start, the second time it happens, notify somebody. Let’s see what’s going on. It’s been our experience that a large majority of the time breakers and devices do what breakers and devices are designed to do. That being said, don’t always just assume that you’ve got a bad breaker. Call somebody and let’s see what’s going on, on that circuit. So when power’s used, ultimately you’ve got this constant expansion and contraction, expansion and contraction of power passing through that wire and over a period of time it will create a loose connection under a screw or under a lug and we need to go in there and make sure there’s no loose connections that would result or has the possibility of resulting in an overheated wire.
Kelsi: Okay. Perfect. So I know you’re also a Generac dealer, but can you let our audience know what exactly that means and why it’s so important for the DIYers who are going to buy generators through retailers, why they need to know that?
David Allen: Yes. Yes, ma’am, Kelsi. We have been a Generac generator dealer for, I don’t know, the last 12 to 15 years, something like that. Ultimately, on the Generac website, if you needed a dealer for service, warranty, anything like that, you go to the Generac website, you’ll find me on there as a service provider in the central Alabama area. And repeatedly we get calls from folks that have gone to the local retail shop and bought a generator, only to discover that when they get home, they don’t have the ability of number one, permitting or successfully carefully installing the electrical systems, not to mention the gas supply that has to be a part of that in order for it to work properly. Nor do they have the ability to sign on to the Generac website and being able to do a successful warranty providing startup on that generator. So there’s a lot of anomalies there that people have the potential have to experience.
Kelsi: So, if you need a generator, just call David.
David Allen: That’s right, call us. David Allen. JD Allen Services.
Glyna: It’s like all these DIYers, I don’t know, what do you run into? I know we’ve talked about ceiling fans. What else do you run into where homeowners are trying to do it themselves and shouldn’t be?
David Allen: Glyna, that is a loaded, loaded question. It’s amazing at some of the things we’ve seen. I mean honestly, I have probably 5000 photos on my phone, my device where we take pictures of anomalies that we see in people’s properties. It’s amazing what you see people do and how they attach a wire to another wire to make something work. Common items are in garages and attic spaces in homes where somebody wanted to add something, so they called the neighbor next door or uncle Joe or their cousin Sam. They come over and they just stretch a wire from point A to point B and strip it back with their pocket knife and twist the wires together to make something work. Honestly, there’s no one particular area that I could put a finger on, other than I strongly emphasize anybody that needs any electrical work, try not to allow the cheapest price to be your decision-maker because typically you’re going to get what you pay for. If you’re looking for the cheapest electrician, there’s going to be a reason why you may get him, and you may regret that in the future. So just keep that in mind. We’re not always the cheapest, but we’re fair. We’re competitive. And when compared to other contractors of similar credentials, then we like to think that we run head to head with them.
Glyna: Yeah, I would say that probably everybody is in the same space of they’ve probably tried something at some point and it just didn’t work correctly. In fact, Jacob here was saying that he recently attempted to replace some plugs that weren’t working. He knows he should’ve called David. But how do you determine what amp plug you need? He’s like, “I think my options were like 15 or 30. I honestly had no idea what the difference was.”
David Allen: Call an electrician, Jacob.
Glyna: You don’t need to know.
David Allen: I mean honestly, that book that I was talking about, the National Electrical Code, is a two-inch, it’s our bible in our industry that governs what we do. Generally speaking, it’s going to be a 15 or a 20, depending on the application in a residential application and what part of the home that it’s actually wired in, or what region you’re in. Huntsville, Gadsden, Mobile, they may all have different code requirements than we do here in Shelby County. So literally, that is an evolutionary living daily changing industry that you… that’s why we pay for 14 hours of continuing education classes semiannually, not to mention our annual commitments. So, not only is it expensive to get those credentials under your belt, but you have to maintain those credentials through a continuing education process. So, not trying to dodge your question, Jacob, but ultimately it all boils down to a lot of factors.
Kelsi: Way too many variables for the commoners to deal with.
David Allen: Yes. That’s correct.
Sarah: Yeah. Yeah, there are some things that you don’t want to go on YouTube to try to figure out.
David Allen: That’s right. That’s right. And in today’s society, we’re all do-it-yourselfers, you know. I mean, my wife, when she wanted to put a top on her Jeep, she went to YouTube, you know. Well, the only repercussions for that would be her top may fly off going down the road. But when it comes to electricity and you’re working around something that has the potential to hurt you gravely and possibly even worse, then you need to call somebody that knows what they’re doing and be very careful at what you’re getting into.
David Allen: That’s my strongest advice to anybody in the electrical industry.
David Allen: Or dealing with electrical anomalies.
Sarah: Yes. When the chance is you could electrocute yourself, it’s really not a chance you want to take.
David Allen: That’s correct.
Sarah: Oh my goodness. Okay. We’ve got your contact information up here, so we want to make sure we mention this to everybody. Call David Allen at JD Allen Services. You can email him at David.firstname.lastname@example.org or call him up at 205-966-2590. We have really enjoyed this today. I mean, we all got a lot out of it, so is there anything that you wanted to touch on before we move into our little sweet game segment?
David Allen: I think I’ve pretty much covered… unless anybody has an unanswered question, I feel like we’ve covered the primary issues related to residential electrical work.
Sarah: Yes. Absolutely. Okay. So let’s move on to something a little more, I guess lighthearted and fun with The Hot Seat.
Glyna: Okay. In this segment, David, we’re going to put up a magic spinning wheel. Not really magic, but it’s going to have different games on it and we’re going to spin it to see which one you’re going to play. And don’t worry, we’ll fill you in on what you’re supposed to do.
David Allen: Okay. Thank you.
Kelsi: All right. Ready to spin.
Glyna: What do we have? This or That. Barely This or That. Alrighty. Okay. This is very fun. Nothing too serious. Basically, I’m going to ask you two things. I’ll say this or that, and you just say whichever one comes in your head, your first thought. Alrighty. Okay. Back massage or foot massage?
David Allen: This. Back massage. I mean, was I supposed to answer one or the other?
Glyna: You can actually… yeah, you can just say the words, but that was actually right because you meant back massage, which was this. All right. Sunburn or mosquito bite?
David Allen: Sunburn.
Glyna: Beard or clean-shaven?
David Allen: Clean-shaven.
Glyna: Heartache or numbness?
David Allen: Numbness.
Glyna: Okay. Diamonds or cash?
David Allen: Cash.
Glyna: All right. Wine or rum?
David Allen: Rum.
Glyna: Does anybody have my timer? Okay. Guitar or piano?
David Allen: Piano.
Glyna: Sour cream or salsa?
David Allen: Salsa.
Glyna: Cookies or chips?
David Allen: Chips.
Glyna: All right. Horror movies or comedies?
David Allen: Horror movies.
Glyna: Skydiving or bungee jumping?
David Allen: Skydiving.
Glyna: Okay. Ponytails or pigtails?
David Allen: Pigtails.
Glyna: Pizza or sushi?
David Allen: Pizza.
Glyna: Okay. Sun or snow?
David Allen: Sun.
Glyna: All right. Books or movies?
David Allen: Movies.
Glyna: Okay. I think we found out a little bit about you.
David Allen: Okay.
Glyna: All right. That was so much fun. We’ve just enjoyed having you on so much, David, and again, I think Jacob made a point in the comments that you are such a trusted source and nobody has to worry about bringing you and your crew into their house. It’s just your integrity is just amazing and your reputation, so definitely call JD Allen Services if you need anything electrical. And again, don’t forget about joining us on Tuesday mornings at 8:00 for our Marketing Mix, and next Friday we’ll be back here with Biz Talk with our special guest Scott Stearns with Mortgage Bank. So until then, you all have a great day.
David Allen: Thank you, ladies!