What to Expect When You’re Expecting…
t’s often the source of a great deal of tension – you’ve done your research, tracked down the contractor you want, called and booked an appointment; now what? What do they need from you, and what should you expect from them? Every contractor is different, but in this article, we’ll bust some myths and reveal some universal electrical practices and procedures. We’ll arm you with the information you need to help you feel more comfortable and prepared when your contractor arrives.
We know that every issue feels like an emergency, and it should. Still, it’s important to understand the distinction between what is actually an emergency to ensure you get the prompt service your issue deserves.
Is It Burning?
If it’s on fire after you’ve called the fire department, you should definitely be on the phone to a licensed, insured, and bonded electrician to have them get you up and running. Many municipalities also require an inspection by a licensed electrician before the Fire Marshall will certify a home safe.
Is It Falling?
Ceiling fans, lighting units, wiring harnesses. Whether a fitting has broken free in the ceiling, your drywall has cracked, or it was a bad installation, anything that is actively in danger of falling from the ceiling is an emergency.
Is It Falling?
Is It Your Panel or Outside Meter Service?
When the breakers in your panel or your main meter service breaker wear out, the electricity running through them will begin to arc. What this means is that sparks will fly from one loose terminal to another, melting any plastic and overheating the metal in the housing. This is a significant fire risk, and uncontrolled electrical discharges can surge through your system to outlets and connected equipment, causing untold thousands of dollars in damage. When this happens, your electrician will often have the power company come out and disconnect the power to your home until it can be safely repaired.
In most cities, heating and water are a requirement for occupancy; thus, the loss of them is a clear emergency.
Being without power to large portions of the home often indicates much more severe underlying problems and should be addressed quickly.
While this is not an exhaustive list, it does cover the more frequent emergencies experienced by electrical contractors. If you’re unsure, err on the side of caution and ask your contractor for their advice when scheduling.
It’s becoming more frequent among contractors to offer virtual consultations or virtual estimates. This often avoids service charges and allows a contractor to price uncomplicated jobs without needing to inconvenience a homeowner.
Virtual estimates are conducted either by sending pictures through email or text, or by using one of the popular video chatting apps (Skype, FaceTime, WhatsApp). Virtual consultations tend to be a stopgap between a virtual estimate and an in-person estimate for larger and more complex jobs.
Those offering these services will almost universally advertise them on websites and social media.
One thing that has become common during the recent COVID-19 pandemic is a universal caution among service companies. This has led to new processes we anticipate being in use long after the dust has settled. Regular use of gloves, shoe covers, sanitizing workspaces, and masks on request are practical protective measures. We expect that most contractors currently using these, like Bickimer Electric, will continue to use them long after things have settled.
Communication Is Key!
For decades service companies would set appointments for a day, and not a specific time, would provide handwritten estimates, paper receipts, and would never think to announce when they were on their way. As technology has evolved, more reputable companies have entered the field that understand communication and convenience are key. Companies like Bickimer Electric use high-end customer management systems that include features such as:
What Can I Do to Help The Contractor?
Most contractors still bid and diagnose by the hour. To help the contractor, and in the process, save yourself some money, there are some common sense and simple steps that you can take:
Ensure access to your main electrical panel is clear, and that there is a workspace large enough for a technician and his toolbag
Ensure any area around damaged or non-working equipment is clear, with enough space for a technician to move around, get a ladder to the area and place his toolbag safely
Ensure that any pets are secured away from the work area for their safety and the technicians
Ensure there is sufficient space to park a large van or box truck and provide access to the sides and rear
If attic access is required, ensure there is space for a sturdy ladder large enough to access the hatch, as well as ensuring anything being stored in the attic is moved to provide walkways and access to any electrical junction boxes or lines
If you have any questions, a technician will always be happy to answer, but be mindful of their need to concentrate; they’re working to ensure that the repair is completed as economically, quickly, and safely as they can
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