Category Archives: licensed electrician

Six Great Reasons to Use a Licensed Electrician

It’s tempting to hire a repair person to do the electrical work for that home improvement project. Heck, it seems like an easy job – why hire a more expensive electrical contractor when your repair person or Cousin Joe says he can do the work?

The saying “you get what you pay for” rings true when it comes to electrical work! Shoddy work can result in appliances not working properly, fuses and circuit breakers blowing, the need to rewire circuits and worst of all – fire hazards!

Here are six reasons why you should hire a licensed electrical contractor:

  1. We are licensed by the states of Maryland and Virginia, which have stringent training and experience standards. To become a master electrician (which I am in both states) you need up to seven years of experience and demonstrated skills.
  2. Licensed electricians in Maryland and Virginia are required to have a certain number of Continuing Educational Units (CEU’s) to renew their licenses. I take training from reputable local providers and read several trade publications every month to stay up to date.
  3. Because of our on-going training, we are up to date on city, county, and state electrical code Licensed contractors can pull permits and schedule the necessary inspections and approvals. The benefit of permits is that there’s no danger of having your project be out-of-code.
  4. We carry workers’ compensation as well as general liability and catastrophic event insurance. Your unlicensed Cousin Joe is not likely to have this insurance, which means YOU are liable for any injuries or damages on your property. It’s even possible your insurance company could deny claims.
  5. I am a factory-certified Generac generator technician, and, as required, I take training yearly to renew my technician certification.
  6. We’ve been in business for more than 15 years and have earned an excellent reputation in the communities we serve and the professional organizations to which we belong (the Frederick County and Mt. Airy Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Club, the Electric League of Maryland Inc., and the Electrical Generating Systems Association).

Contact Little Sparkie Electric for all your commercial, residential, and industrial electrical contracting and service needs!

Little Sparkie Electric Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Neither a volatile economy nor a pandemic has hampered the growth of Little Sparkie Electric, LLC. Catherine Nazarene, managing member and a working licensed Maryland and Virginia Master Electrician, has built her successful business by focusing on hard work, excellent service, and diversifying her service offerings.

Although she launched her Mt. Airy-based business on January 1, 2007 as the Great Recession was hitting, her first paying job came just two days later.  The business has steadily grown ever since, and this past year Little Sparkie Electric was again among the Top Five Finalists in the Frederick News Post’s “Best of the Best” contest in the Electricians category.

Nazarene’s husband, John, also works in the business; they also employ a secretary/bookkeeper, Carla McRorie, a part-time electrician, Vic Weinberg, and a generator maintenance technician, Stewart Lentz.

Growth and Change through the Years

Nazarene also credits membership in the Frederick County Chamber of Commerce and other business associations for helping to grow the business. “We really value the resources and referrals the members provide to one another, and we believe association membership has been a key part of our growth these past 15 years. As the saying goes ‘a rising tide lifts all boats.’ The numerous networking opportunities mean that everybody wins and that is how I like to do life! I like also to have resources to refer to customers and others who need referrals for just about anything. The more I know about what other businesses do, the better I can help those who come to me.”

Little Sparkie Electric works with commercial and industrial businesses, farms, churches and other houses of worship, and residential customers, on a wide variety of projects, and serves customers in Frederick, Carroll, Howard, and Montgomery Counties, along with those in Western and Southern Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.

“We offer a full range of electrical and backup power services, but I love challenging situations, where we play detective as we track down and correct electrical issues, ask and answer questions, suggest and implement solutions,” noted Nazarene.

One of her long-time customers, Chuck Wade Sod Farm, testified to her skills: 

“The largest project Catherine did for us at the Chuck Wade Sod Farm was lighting and an exterior fan for a new outdoor patio project. To do the project, she needed to run the conduit through the basement foundation to the patio,” explained Kris Wade.

“It was a complicated job – it took a lot of endurance, and it took her two or three days – but she accomplished the job. Catherine doesn’t care about the difficulty factor – she’ll tackle any job and do it properly.

“And she’s always prompt, which you can’t say about all contractors,” Wade added.

Installing and servicing Generac generators has also been an area of steady growth through the years. “Many electricians don’t work on generators, and many generators are not installed by electrical contractors,” explained Nazarene. “Generators are as mechanical as they are electrical. They’re often likened to cars or trucks without wheels,” she added.

Nazarene recently took courses to renew her Generac Commercial Level II technician certification, which means the business is factory authorized to sell, install and service large commercial generators and residential systems that have a rating up to 150 kW.

Another change the business has seen in the last 15 years is an increase in regulations. “We’re in the sixth National Electrical Code cycle since we started in the business!” said Nazarene. There are many reasons for the proliferation of regulations,  most of which are about safety, the main focus of the NEC. Alternative energy is a big one. “Articles in the Code now take into consideration solar and wind power, energy storage and fuel cells, and specialized batteries for electric vehicles. We’ve installed charging stations and wired solar photovoltaic, aka PV, installations as well.  In fact, we are installing a lot more electric vehicle (EV) chargers than ever before,” she noted.

Other changes in the past five years include:

  • LED lighting for productivity at work, in healthcare and assisted-living settings, and for virus and bacteria control.
  • Since the virus panic hit in March 2020, we have seen an increase in home-office projects, residential remodeling projects, and service work of all types. Commercial work has been making a comeback though, as new businesses are born and existing ones recover.
  • Supply chain disruptions are no secret to anyone, they have been and continue to be a challenge to us, but we rise to meet them as we do any other challenge.

We feel very blessed to have so many wonderful customers who put their trust in us and our skills. We concentrate as always on improving those skills, keeping up with the latest tools and materials which are constantly evolving, and above all we continue to listen to our customers and offer solutions to their needs. In the years to come, I only see the human factor increasing as technology continues to develop.

We don’t really leverage technology, we leave that to the larger contracting firms. Instead, we focus on face-to-face contact, listening to our customers (!), and human interaction – when all is said and done, technology has its place, but we deal with people, and all of our customers are just that, PEOPLE. I have a strong feeling that they appreciate our sincere interest in them as human beings and our responsiveness to their questions and concerns. We love what we do, have fun on the job, and our customers often remark on this to us.

I’ve never stopped being optimistic about our future and have no fears at all. We will be able to meet whatever the economy and fate in general throws our way. Hard work and faith in God will carry us as we carry ourselves.

Fire Prevention Week™ is October 4-10, 2020!


This year’s Fire Prevention Week’s campaign theme is “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!TMThe campaign’s goal is to educate everyone about the simple but important actions they can take to keep themselves, and those around them, safe in the kitchen.

Unattended cooking is the leading cause of fires in the kitchen.  Keep kids safe and avoid accidents and injuries by keeping them three feet away from the stove while you are cooking.

Other basic kitchen fire safety guidelines include:

  1. Keep appliances serviced, clean, and in good repair.
  2. Unplug electric appliances when not in use. This saves power by reducing the amount of energy a device consumes even when it’s not being used, and protects against overheating and power surges that can damage equipment.
  3. Install a smoke detector near, but not in the kitchen.
  4. Use caution when lighting the pilot light or burner on a gas stove.
  5. Don’t use metal in the microwave.
  6. Don’t overfill pots or pans with oil or grease.

Additional fire prevention guidelines include:

  • Avoid “over-fusing” circuits…the modern-day version of putting a penny in a screw-in fuse socket to keep the fuse from blowing. If a breaker is tripping, but will allow you to reset it, there is a problem on the circuit. It may be overloaded. Replacing the breaker with one of a higher amperage rating is a potential fire hazard. Enlist the help of a licensed electrician.
  • If your lights flicker, or appliances start working and then stop, whether they are plugged in or hardwired, or you hear crackling or sizzling noises at a switch, receptacle, or inside a wall…stop using the equipment, turn off the breaker, and call a licensed electrician. There may be arcing on the circuit, which is a potential fire hazard.

Fire Prevention Week is observed each year during the week of October 9th in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire, which began on October 8, 1871, and caused devastating damage.

In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed Fire Prevention Week a national observance, making it the longest-running public health observance in our country. During Fire Prevention Week, children, adults, and teachers learn how to stay safe in case of a fire.

Firefighters provide lifesaving public education in an effort to drastically decrease casualties caused by fires.

When you need a trusted licensed Electrician, Call on Little Sparkie Electric!



Ensure that your business or home is wired for the best connections

With so many people working virtually, and kids getting their classes online, it is more important than ever for your business or home to have structured wiring.

Structured wiring refers to a whole-office or home network of audio, video, data, telephone, television, or security signals. Structured wiring begins with a structured networking panel (SNP), which accepts cables from outside providers and distributes the signals directly to each office, area, or room. These direct lines are called “home runs” and they ensure the strongest possible connection and signal to each of your electronic devices.

In spite of what you may read online, this is not a DIY project. Hire a reputable, licensed electrician to design and install a comprehensive system that will meet all your needs. Many businesses are remodeling to adjust to the distancing and other requirements brought about by the coronavirus.  We can assist with the initial design to retrofit your business or home during your remodel. We can also fit a wiring system into an existing business.

“When I managed the Regus Business Center in Frederick, I had a customer that needed a remote TV TV_Studioset-up with special electrical connections in his office.

“I immediately recommended Little Sparkie Electric because I needed someone I could trust. It was a complex job that also required making connections to electrical boxes in other parts of the building and coordinating with the building manager.

“Catherine knew what she was doing – I didn’t have to worry about anything – she did a wonderful job for my client.” — Jean Wright, former General Manager, Regus Business Centers

Fire extinguisher

Ways to Keep Your Workers Safe

These days, when we speak of workplace safety, we usually think of personal protective equipment, like face masks, gloves, etc. and social distancing.

However, as employees gradually return to workplaces, we also need to protect them from fire, electrical hazards, dust explosions and accidents.

An important protection against workplace fires is fire extinguishers.  They need to be in a handy spot where they can put out or control a fire until the fire department arrives.  Fire extinguishers must have the seal of an independent testing laboratory, and be labelled with standard symbols for the kind of fires it can extinguish:

There are four classes of fire extinguishers – A, B, C and D – and each class can put out a different type of fire.

  • Class A extinguishers will put out fires in ordinary combustibles such as wood and paperFire extinguisher
  • Class B extinguishers are for use on flammable liquids like grease, gas and oil
  • Class C extinguishers are suitable for use only on electrically energized fires
  • Class D extinguishers are designed for use on flammable metals

Multipurpose extinguishers can be used on different types of fires and will be labeled with more than one class, like A-B, B-C
or A-B-C.

Extension cords can be another workplace hazard.  They’re fine for a lamp or small appliance, but they should be a temporary fix, because over time extension cords can deteriorate and become an electrical shock, fire, or tripping hazard.  For more extension cord safety rules, click here.

Depending on your business, anti-dust equipment is a must.  For example, coal, cement, asbestos, grain, flour, wood, metals leather, rubber, silica, and so on, can produce hazardous dusts. Concentrated dust can be combustible and cause fires or explosions. It can also be hard on your staff, causing rashes, asthma, eye and nose damage, and even cancer.

An exhaust ventilation system, dilution ventilation or vacuum can be used.  Protective equipment and clothing can also be used to keep your employees safe.

It’s easy to forget to unplug electrical equipment, but it’s also important to do, especially prior to a storm or heavy rain.  If you lose power during a storm or flood, switch off electrical equipment and then unplug it. Be sure to grab the plug and not the cord to prevent damage to the wiring.

And remember, before you enter a flooded business or home, have a licensed electrician and utility personnel check to make sure the building is safe from shock and electrocution risks.



Don’t forget lighting when selling your home!

Hiring an electrician may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re planning to sell your home.  But as Redfin’s  Ryan Smith notes in this article, you don’t want rooms that are poorly lit or lights that don’t work!

Trying to sell a poorly lit home

“You want to show your home in the best light, so take the time to really gauge the quality of your lighting by closing your curtains/blinds and looking at each room as though you’re a potential homebuyer. Make a note of any rooms that are poorly lit or just seem dark and then call an electrician so that you can have some additional lighting installed. 

“Even worse than a poorly lit room, however, is when the lights don’t work at all. Sometimes the light bulb is just burnt out, while other times the socket itself is in need of repair. Consider calling an electrician before you begin showing your home to make sure it’s shining its brightest like the one above. Potential buyers (and your bank account) will thank you for the investment.”

Read Ryan’s full article here.

holiday lights

Don’t let your holiday sparkle fizzle

With the holidays fast approaching, homeowners and businesses will be decking the halls; often with strings of lights and lighted decorations. Those lights are glittering and cheerful, but they can also cause hazards if they’re plugged into extension cords!holiday lights

Before you untangle all of those light strings, consider that approximately 3,300 home fires originate in extension cords each year, killing 50 people and injuring 270 more, according to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI).

That’s because extension cords can overheat and cause fires when they’re used improperly. Keep these important tips from the ESFI and Little Sparkie Electric in mind to protect your home and workplace.

  • Don’t plug extension cords into one another.
  • Make sure extension cords are properly rated for their intended use, indoor or outdoor, and meet or exceed the power needs of the device being used.
  • Keep all outdoor extension cords clear of snow and standing water.
  • If used outdoors, cords should be GFCI-protected, either by plugging them into a GFCI-protected receptacle or by having GFCI protection themselves.
  • Do not overload extension cords. A circuit overload SHOULD trip the breaker or blow the fuse, but it isn’t guaranteed. If the breaker or fuse is rated higher than the circuit wiring, the circuit may not open in an overload.
  • Inspect cords for damage before you use them. Check for cracked or frayed sockets, loose Power stripsor bare wires, and loose connections. A break in a hot wire will not trip a standard circuit breaker or blow a fuse, and is thus a fire hazard.
  • This should be obvious, but do NOT nail or staple extension cords to walls or baseboards.
  • Do NOT run extension cords through walls, doorways, ceilings, or floors. If a cord is covered, heat can’t escape, which may result in a fire hazard.
  • Never use three-prong plugs with outlets that only have two slots. Again, this should be obvious, but never cut off the ground pin to force a fit, which could lead to electric shock.
  • Buy only cords that have been approved by an independent testing laboratory.
  • Do NOT use an extension cord or power strip with heaters or fans, which could cause cords to overheat and result in a fire.

Remember that extension cords should only be used on a temporary basis. They’re not intended as permanent household wiring, so put them away when the holiday decorations come down!

If you need additional outlets, always have a licensed electrician install them. This isn’t the time to be a DIYer! 

Integrated technology

Get ALL of your Technology Working Together!

Homes and businesses today rely on integrating technology, including phones, TVs, data men at workcabling, and electrical wiring.  In spite of what you may read online, a certified electrician is the best person to design and install a comprehensive system that will meet all of your needs.

We can step in upfront to assist with the initial design for your business, a tenant build-out, or your home. We can also fit a wiring system into an existing home or business.

An interesting recent project we did for a telescope observatory in Mt. Airy included running a 30-amp feeder out to a subpanel that we installed in the observatory and installing receptacle circuits in the dome according to the builder’s requirements. We also installed a second conduit for a Cat5e data communications wiring and installed jacks in the dome for the computer hookup.

“When I managed the Regus Business Center in Frederick I had a customer that needed a remote TV set-up with special electrical connections in his office.

 “I immediately recommended Little Sparkie Electric because I needed someone I could trust. It was a complex job that also required making connections to electrical boxes in other parts of the building and coordinating with the building manager.

“Catherine knew what she was doing – I didn’t have to worry about anything – she did a wonderful job for my client.”

— Jean Wright, former General Manager, Regus Business Centers

Our services include:

  • New construction, tenant fit-outs, remodeling, additions, basement finishing, bathrooms, kitchens – you name it!
  • Troubleshooting and repairs
  • Air conditioning/appliance circuits
  • Additional receptacles
  • Backup generators – installation, maintenance, and repair
  • Baseboard heaters
  • Basement wiring
  • Bathroom exhaust fans
  • Boiler circuits
  • Breaker replacements
  • Ceiling fans
  • Home theater systems
  • Move existing telephone jacks
  • Install new telephone or data jacks
  • Assist with television cabling services, such as cable TV or satellite service
  • Electric vehicle chargers
  • GFCI outlet replacement
  • Indoor residential and commercial lighting
  • Occupancy and motion sensors/lighting controls
  • Outdoor residential, commercial and parking lot lighting
  • See more

Let us know if we can assist you with any of your home or commercial electrical projects! [email protected] or 301-606-5181.

Outdoor lighting

Consider these lighting options to enhance your summer evenings

As twilight approaches and the air cools, it can be delightful to enjoy the outdoors on a beautifully lit outdoor patio and deck. But it’s important to get your lighting done right – not too bright – but enough to move about safely and enjoy your landscaping and/or guests.

The trick to getting a well-lit outdoor patio or deck is directing the light just where needed. Overhead lighting options can include sturdy string lights, lanterns, candlesOutdoor lighting and torches, landscape lighting and fire pits! Don’t forget dimmers to control the brightness of electric lighting.

Lowes recommends that you have a game plan for your lighting, and Little Sparkie Electric can help you create your plan. For a smaller area, you may want to create an intimate setting by grouping lanterns and candles. You can also add landscape lights to the patio perimeter and any pathways from the patio to the house.

If your yard gets direct sunlight, we may recommend solar landscape lights. Low-voltage or LED lights are other options. Deck and stair lights also add ground lights while adding extra safety.

If you have a larger space, you can use lighting to define the different areas. Outdoor outdoor lightsstring lights work great draped from a pergola or gazebo and create a fun party atmosphere. A fire pit provides warmth on a chilly night and a secondary place to gather. Use spotlights or floodlights to illuminate trees and shrubs, and to put the finishing touches on your outdoor retreat.

Hire a licensed electrician

No matter which option you choose, be sure to hire a licensed, experienced electrician for the job. Here’s why:

• To check that your outdoor connections are safe and secure. You also may need to add additional outdoor receptacles or a dedicated circuit to your electrical panel, which should definitely be done by a licensed electrician.

• To ensure proper installation that won’t overload the circuits of your home or business.

• An electrician can recommend the most cost-efficient options.

If you’re ready to install landscape lighting and would like help from an electrician, contact us to discuss some options or call 301-606- 5181.