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Dear Angie: What’s the price to add an indoor electric outlet?

— Marrla W., Portland, Ore.

Dear Marrla: Angie’s List members report spending an average of $204 to install or replace a standard electrical outlet in the Portland area, with the cost including minor wiring work. Nationally, members report paying an average of $183.

This is not a job for the typical do-it-yourselfer. I recommend hiring a licensed electrician.

Master electricians tell us there’s more to consider than simply whether an outlet functions. If an outlet doesn’t meet code requirements, for instance, you face the risk of electric shock or fire. The National Fire Protection Association estimates that electrical failures or malfunctions cause 45,000 to 55,000 home fires a year. If officials determine that improper electrical work sparked the fire, your insurance company likely won’t cover the claim.

Each state requires electricians to complete specific training before they receive a license, and to continue their work and education to renew the license.

A licensed electrician should be able to ensure that a new outlet will operate safely, meet codes and be connected to a circuit breaker with sufficient capacity to handle the load. For instance, major appliances, such as a clothes dryer or stove, require a dedicated outlet. Similarly, an over-the-range microwave that replaces a stove fan will need more amps to operate safety.

Experts say installing a new outlet takes more time than replacing one. A contractor told us he’s replaced six to 12 standard outlets in an hour, for an hourly labor charge of $112, plus the cost of materials. However, he says, a new dryer or range outlet might take two hours to install and cost as much as $600.

When hiring an electrician, look for more than proof of appropriate licensing. Consider pros who have good consumer reviews on a trusted site, as well as those with sufficient insurance and bonding.

Angie Hicks is founder of www.AngiesList.com, provider of consumer reviews and services. Send questions to askangie@angieslist.com or tweet with #AskAngie. Follow her @Angie—Hicks.

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