You’re able to maintain your home on your own, and can handle most tasks that come up, including some repairs that traditionally fall to men. However, when it comes to electrical issues, you’re at a loss. That’s actually a good thing. Electrical outlets, wiring and malfunctioning appliances should not be serviced by anyone but an expert. Electricity is dangerous – deadly, even. When the unexpected strikes, you need to have a trusted pro on your side. How do you find an emergency electrician, though? What should you look for, and what separates a consummate professional from a predatory scammer?
What Constitutes and Emergency?
First, let’s dig into the situation a bit. What constitutes an emergency? Is it a worst-case scenario sort of thing, where your breaker box is spitting sparks and blue flame is crackling around your wiring? Is it when your ceiling fan breaks down in the middle of the night in the dead of summer? Actually, calling an emergency electrician is a judgement call in some cases – it involves any situation dealing with electricity, appliances, or wiring, that you cannot allow to wait until the next business day. It could be:
- Malfunctioning RCD or smoke alarms
- It might be malfunctioning light fixtures
- It could be malfunctioning appliances
- It might be a problem with your power outlets
- It could be a problem with the wiring or circuits
- It might be power surges to appliances or lights
- It could be a strange buzzing or humming sound coming from a breaker box
- It might be partial or total loss of power when the grid is not affected
- It could be burning smells
- It might be obvious burnt wiring
You get the idea. An emergency can be just about anything. The key here is that it involves a situation that is potentially dangerous to you and/or your family, or one that simply cannot be allowed to wait for standard business hours.
Now that we’ve established what an emergency may be, we need to look at how to find the right emergency electrician. Thankfully, it’s not as complicated as it might seem.
There When You Need Them
One of the most crucial considerations when hiring an emergency electrician is that they will be there when you need them. In some instances, you may find that an electrician or contractor does not answer the phone after hours. In other instances, they might accept your call, but not be willing to come to your home to address your problem in the middle of the night. Whomever you ultimately hire, they should be able to be there when you need them, whether that’s in the evening, the middle of the night, or the very early morning. You should be able to reach them easily. If they are not available immediately, then you should be able to leave a message and have your call returned promptly.
The electrician you call should be able to take the information you give over the phone and give a rough estimate on the cause and the cost. However, you may need to wait until they arrive at your home and inspect the situation first before you get an accurate estimate. Whatever you do, do not allow the electrician to do any work (and do not pay any money) until you have been given an estimate on the cost of repairs. Make sure you find out exactly what’s included in the estimate, as well, such as afterhours fees, supplies, permit costs, and the like.
Some electricians specialise in certain types of projects, while others are happy to tackle anything and everything that comes their way. When it comes to hiring an emergency electrician, it’s better to go with a generalist than a specialist, unless you know for a fact that the problem you’re experiencing falls under the bailiwick of the specialist. For instance, if your garage door opener is malfunctioning, it might make more sense to call a garage door repair company rather than an electrician.
Every electrician must be licensed in order to legally operate in Australia. However, that does not stop unscrupulous individuals from providing services without a license. These may offer lower rates than what you would pay to a professional, but understand that working with an unlicensed electrician is never a safe bet. There is a tremendous amount of risk involved here. Licensure ensures that the electrician understands best practices, adheres to all rules and regulations, and has significant experience and expertise. Never work with an unlicensed electrician.
Licensure is not the only requirement for an electrician. Ask for proof of insurance before you hire an emergency electrician. This will ensure that if anything goes wrong on the job (due to the electrician’s efforts), their insurance will pay for the damages, rather than your homeowner’s insurance being tapped.
Experience with Similar Projects
Just as with hiring any other professional, you should make sure that the emergency electrician you hire has experience with similar projects. For instance, if you’re experiencing a humming noise from an appliance, but the electrician has never had to troubleshoot such an appliance before, the process will take longer, and there is a greater chance for error and missteps than if the electrician had plenty of experience with similar problems.
Of course, the electrician that you hire should be a consummate professional. They should arrive at your home in uniform, even if it is after hours. They should communicate with you in a professional, polite manner, and they should be willing to explain what they believe has gone wrong within your home, and what they intend to do to rectify the situation (and they should do so without being condescending).
Finally, ask about warranty protection on the work performed. Any electrician worth their salt should offer at least some guarantee on workmanship and quality.
If you find yourself in need of an emergency electrician, we invite you to learn more from your local electricians like Hilton Electrical.