Are you facing trouble with existing circuit breakers or indoor lighting in your house? Are you building a new home and require the help of an expert who manages and installs the entire electrical system?
If you do not have a good contractor, plans can go haywire!
Our homes and offices are places where we spend the most time. Our living spaces are comfortable due to electrical appliances (including air-conditioning, lighting, refrigerators and more) which are a necessity in the modern world. While most electrical appliances have a fairly long life, they, like every other machine require maintenance at regular intervals.
With the technological advances, maintenance of electrical appliances is low on our list of priorities, till a breakdown triggers chaos in our everyday routine tasks.
It’s no fun when the air-conditioning isn’t cooling and the outside temperatures are headed north – simply because the filters were not cleaned!
Depending on your usage, all electrical appliances should be checked at regular intervals for optimum productivity. Purchasing an electrical gadget is easy, but finding someone reliable to install and maintain it can prove to be a challenge. Preventive measures taken during routine maintenance will ensure expensive and unexpected repairs are reduced.
What are the benefits of preventive maintenance?
- It can significantly lower your utility costs – Large or small, all electrical appliances consume electricity. Studies show that home appliances contribute to more than 50% of the utility bills in a home. Likewise, energy consumption in office spaces forms a bulk of the utility bill. Entering into a service with a contractor or a company could significantly save you costs.
As an appliance is used over time, the gadget is more prone to wear and tear. Older appliances which are not regularly maintained consume more electricity to work efficiently. Simple preventive measures like timely cleaning of air filters, inspection of wires etc. can increase the productivity of your appliances and reduce costs.
- Reduces emergency breakdowns – During peak summer, when the temperatures outside could boil an egg in five minutes, the air-conditioning does not function – simply because the thermostat has broken down! Or in the case of a refrigerator, a leak in the refrigerant unit would reduce the cooling in the refrigerator. A preventive maintenance check would have taken care of the refrigerant being refilled and the leak being plugged. Absolutely frustrating!
A quick check by an expert could have reduced the risk of breakdown. While Annual Maintenance contracts are not the norm for all home appliances, it is a good idea to do preventive maintenance checks annually with professionals to take care of any breakdowns.
- Expert advice from knowledgeable experts – Companies and contractors who offer service agreements are experts in their field. They will regularly visit your home and check up all the electrical appliances covered under the contract and advise you on any replacements. The costs are dependent on several factors which the contractor will discuss with you. Make sure you ask all the right questions for maximum benefit. Most basic contracts include a service check-up before the start of the season. There are also contracts that include replacement of parts and even sometimes emergency services.
In India, installation of most large appliances is undertaken by the manufacturer. Once a product is purchased, a service request is raised and the installation typically happens within a week. These licensed contractors install, inspect and check the appliance. They would also demonstrate the appliance when required. Whether it is an online purchase or from a physical store, installation is taken care of by licensed contractors from the manufacturer’s network.
In the past, a majority of the electrical contractors gained their knowledge apprenticing with an experienced electrician. Formal degrees or diplomas were not considered important. With the increase in consumer awareness as well as the proliferation of convenient appliances which are fairly expensive, the demand for licensed contractors with relevant training and education is headed north. Professional short and long-term courses are conducted both by the Government and private institutions giving a boost to the skilled contractors market.
This trend has also contributed to the rise of the number of companies offering Contractor services and Annual Maintenance contracts for every category of electrical contracting. AMC’s are convenient for both the contractor and for the consumer, primarily since the agreement defines all aspects very clearly. If you plan to enter into an AMC, do keep the following guidelines in mind before signing on the dotted line.
AMC (Annual Maintenance Contract) guidelines
- Timeline of the Annual Maintenance contract: This clause will determine the number of months or years the agreement is valid. It has a start and end date clearly defined. The timeline will also determine the amount you pay to the contractor. The AMC could also confirm the first year and post the first 12 months the contract could be re-negotiated or continued. An AMC is normally entered into for a year and can be extended for three years.
- The cost of the Annual Maintenance contract: An AMC charge is usually paid upfront while signing the contract. In addition to the upfront amount (which should include taxes, annual charges etc.) there could be a cost component applicable to each visit during the AMC duration. The cost clause will also cover a pre-fixed percentage increase in the AMC cost after the first year.
- The frequency of visits: The number of times the service engineer will visit will be clearly outlined. It could range from a monthly visit to one visit every six months. The frequency of the calls will depend on the appliance and the relevant maintenance required. It is recommended that it should be included to ensure every visit is preceded by a phone call to confirm the time and date to make sure someone is available at the location.
- Type of AMC: This is a critical clause. Think about whether you prefer a Comprehensive or a Non-comprehensive warranty. The Non-comprehensive contract is for inspections, cleaning of filters, pipes, checks on the operational efficiency. If the service engineer discovers potential issues and recommends changing a part, the charges for the part are to be paid.
A Comprehensive contract covers off replacement or repair of defective or faulty parts. It will also give you the added benefit of a lower price since it is sourced directly from the manufacturer rather than a wholesaler. However, a Comprehensive contract is more expensive than a non-comprehensive contract, since it includes the cost of spare parts.
- The scope of Work: Define all the tasks to be completed by the service engineer in detail. This will save a lot of angst during the visits or in the case of a breakdown. Do take the time to discuss the impact of each of the tasks. For example, unclean filters can lower the cooling or accumulated scaling in the dishwasher can result in unclean dishes and unpleasant odours.
If you plan on including the scope of work to cover off more than one appliance, do get references about the execution and efficiency of the contractor from other clients.
- Penalty clause: A potential issue unchecked during the service call could trigger a major breakdown, the service engineer does not come on the date and time agreed – to address and protect yourself including a penalty clause in the contract is a good idea. The penalty clause will address the contractor perspective and both parties should reach an agreement about the repercussions and liabilities covered under this.
In the rare case, when you may need to locate a contractor for the installation or perhaps require a contractor to troubleshoot a snag in your appliance or when you wish to enter into a service contract or AMC (Annual Maintenance Contract) – here are some smart guidelines to support you in searching out a qualified contractor who is efficient and knowledgeable.
Finding an experienced, reliable and knowledgeable Contractor:
- Ask neighbours and friends: Speak to people, ask them to refer you to the last person who they worked with. Most people are always willing to share information since everyone understands the challenges of locating a reliable contractor. Ask as many questions as you can. Start by explaining your requirements, try and get an understanding of what was the work the contractor completed for them, how long he took, the amount charged etc. If you live in an apartment, it is much easier, since Apartment complexes usually hire Utility contractors to service the apartment residents.
- Contact a local electronics store: Most stores have a database of contractors and know which ones are reliable and can execute a job effectively. The downside is that they may be busy, so try and visit them during non-peak hours, perhaps between 12 to 3 pm. As an alternative, you can also visit a local electric supplies and hardware store, they too would be able to recommend contractors.
- Search on the internet:Services such as online yellow pages etc. list diverse services such as drivers, plumbers, odd-job men, and contractors are certainly on their list. With the surge in usage of internet search engines, skilled and unskilled professionals register themselves with these online yellow pages. YouDo, a popular online platform assists you to get access to the best contractors for such services in your city. This platform helps you to choose one for you considering your needs and preferences.You get peace of mind while having single click access to top technicians across India. Also, the pricing remains standard and cost-effective. All professionals are verified by YouDo team. The platform allows you to see prices for various contractors in your area, read reviews and book a contractor online. No wonder, it’s now easier than ever to find the right contractor for your household requirements.
- Check with local supermarkets: Several supermarkets usually feature a display board. Customers put up their requirements and offer services through notes, fliers, and cards pinned on the board.
Finally, check the below before hiring any contractor. A contractor works in your space and it is important he is reliable and safe.
- Ask for references. This is critical since a contractor will visit your home or office, it is highly recommended to get references and confirm that the contractor is reliable and safe
- Explain the job in detail. Take the contractor to the exact appliance that requires being repaired. Allow the contractor to review the problem first before confirming the rate
- Split estimate into the labour cost and the expenses to replace any relevant parts
- To get the best rates, try and get two bids from different contractors, if possible
- Agree on the payment terms. Especially pay attention to purchase of new parts -warranties on parts, Pay the contractor upon completion of the job, and pay only for the portion of the job that has been completed ·
- Avoid making final payment unless the work is completed and tested by you
- Do check with the contractor about an Annual Maintenance contract, if required
Working with reliable and skilled contractors can be a joy and your appliances will be happy too!