Living (and enjoying living) in a well-functioning home is so much more than pretty wallpaper and spotless floors. For optimum functionality, those household features need to be working and doing what they’re supposed to do – and this includes the ones relying on electricity.
And whether it’s a flickering light bulb or a kitchen appliance that, for some strange reason, won’t switch on, we are blessed with having experts known as ‘electricians’ to come and save the day whenever such a problem presents itself.
However, like all professionals, an electrical contractor can be quite costly. But if you need the job to be done, then you don’t really have a choice – or do you?
Let’s take a look at some “secrets of the trade” involving electricians and clients – that means you!
Even if you’re embarrassed about an electrical problem that’s your fault, be open about it to your electrician upfront. It definitely saves time (and money) if your electrician knows from the start what the cause of the issue is.
Don’t just pick up the phone just because it’s the easiest thing to do – perhaps that light is just not working because of a faulty bulb. Try another one yourself.
If this doesn’t solve your problem, check the circuit breakers and the reset switches on GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets. Apparently, electricians are quite amazed that most people don’t check those two things before calling in a problem.
The same goes with power outages – first see if your neighbours are experiencing similar issues.
Wishing it away won’t work. If lights continue to flicker, or you need to reset a certain circuit breaker every other day, or an outlet sparks, those can quickly snowball into very expensive and bigger problems.
You’d be surprised how many people keep furniture, storage or stacks of stuff blocking off access to the breaker box. Don’t make your electrician squeeze past your personal belongings so they can do their job.
Similarly, if you know where your electrician is going to be working, move furniture and delicate items away from that spot if possible, and provide them the biggest possible work space.
Although an electrician can be costly, remember that you are paying for their training, skill and insurance. But if you’d rather fix the problem yourself, make sure you know what you're doing.
And don’t hire the neighbourhood handyman to come mess with serious wiring issues. Electricity is dangerous, and the untrained can get in over their heads very fast.
As most contractors will charge you for the time it takes to come out to your home, it just makes sense to choose one that is reasonably close to your location.
However, where the real difference comes in is when it’s a service call. Most contractors allow their employees to take their trucks home, so if at all possible, have your service call scheduled first thing in the morning.
Ask your contractor what time they start work and request that the electrician be at your home at that time. This way, no extra travel charges are coming your way.
Did you know that some electrical contractors can charge a 300% mark-up or more on parts? Thus, never let the contractor supply parts that you can simply buy yourself much cheaper. Do your best to figure out what parts are needed to do the job and go buy them ahead of time.
What’s more, don’t let the contractor supply simple things like light bulbs, switches or electrical boxes. These are items you can get at your home improvement store at – you guessed it – a much more reasonable price than the contractor will charge you for.
Deciding on whether to stay or leave while the electrician is doing his work is a personal choice. In most cases it shouldn’t be a problem to go out and leave them there, assuming they are insured and you have good references.
However, if you’re paying by the hour, it’s advisable to stay home to help insure that work is being done. But be sure not to badger them with questions or stand there like a potted plant while they work – leave them be!
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