Beyond changing a lightbulb, most people don’t know what to do when they have an electrical problem. For many, even opening the breaker box and trying to see if something has gone wrong here is too much to do. So when something goes wrong with your electrical system, the first thing you think to do is call an electrical contractor or some other type of electrician in order to get some help. But chances are, you’re going to experience that problem outside of business hours. When that happens, you need to know how to find an emergency electrician and get immediate help for your issue — even if it’s the middle of the night. So…how do you do that, and how do you find the right electrician when you’re in that situation?

When It’s Time to Call an Emergency Electrician

Electricians are skilled technicians who have studied and learned how to perform complicated and dangerous tasks safely. Everyone knows that electricity is scary stuff. Even a little shock can be jarring. One little screw-up and an electrical system can create a fire or cause a human body a lot of pain. Electricity can even be fatal. That’s why it’s so essential to hire an expert who has been trained to work with electricity safely.

But electricians are experts and they do charge by the hour for their services. When it comes to an emergency electrician, you’re going to pay even more. Residential electrical services and other types of electrical services don’t come cheap even in the best of circumstances. So before you make the call, make sure you actually truly need an emergency electrician. Is your problem really so bad that it has to be solved right now? Follow a simple checklist to find out if you actually need emergency electrical service or if you can wait for business hours when you’ll pay much less to have your electricity repaired.

Are you experiencing a power outage that has originated in your home and not with your utility company? Before you start trying to call an emergency electrician, call your utility company to see if an outage has been reported and ask them if there is an outage in your area that could be affecting your power in some way. Most of the time, the problem with your electricity originates with the utility company. However, there will be times when you’re experiencing problems because of something within your property that the utility company cannot repair. According to the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, 60 to 80% of electrical surges original from within a home or business. An electrical surge can cause a lot of damage and may short out your system in some way, which can create a loss of power in all of or part of your property.

Once you determine that the problem is within your property and not with the utility company, assess the situation logically. Unless you’re facing severe environmental conditions such as extreme heat or extreme cold, you can probably survive for several hours even if your furnace and/or air conditioning system is not working at all due to a loss of power. You can probably get by without lights, too. And yes, though it feels impossible you can even survive without the TV, a video game console, a computer, and all those gadgets you use all the time.

However, there may be times when you genuinely have a potentially dangerous situation and you absolutely need to hire an emergency electrician in order to get some help right away. When is it time to call for emergency electrical services? If there is some exposed electrical wiring that is a potential fire hazard. If the water is getting near an electrical system and you need to shut off that system before this becomes a potentially fatal hazard and you aren’t sure how to disconnect the system. When there is a possible danger or a fire hazard, then you do need to call an emergency electrician and get immediate service. For standard outages, however, you will save yourself a lot of money if you just wait for the morning.