When something goes wrong with your home appliances, panic can set in very quickly and easily. Whether it’s a leak, your boiler breaking down or your hot water/heating not working at all, it is important to know who to call not only to ensure that your problem is resolved in a timely manner but also to guarantee that you are not paying any unnecessary fees.
For hot water systems, in particular, the problem can be either a plumbing or an electrical one. And if you’re wondering, “do plumbers do electrical work?” the answer is large no. Companies may employ both plumbers and electricians as part of the services they provide but you cannot call out plumbers for electrical work, and so the best option is to identify which kind of specialist is required before you even place the call.
When should I call a plumber?
There are a few tell-tale signs with regards to issues with hot water that immediately point to requiring a plumber. If your hot water system is over 10 years old, that is a straightforward plumbing issue. The same applies to situations where water from the taps or shower goes from cold not flowing out at all.
You can also check for any leaks around the base of your pressure cylinder. Even if the cylinder is not actively leaking when you check it, or not leaking a lot, any rust on the cylinder is a tell-tale sign that water is escaping. If this is the case, then it must be replaced by a qualified plumber as consistent leaking cannot only affect your water temperature, it can also affect electrical connections causing fuses to blow or circuit breakers to trip, which would then require assistance from both a plumber and an electrician.
Additionally, the state of the pressure relief valve can also inform you if a plumber is required. All pressure relief valves have a pipe that runs from them to an outside drain. Check how much water is draining out of the pipe. If the volume is noticeable, much more than a cup in under a day, that indicates a clear issue with the pressure relief valve. You can attempt to reset the valve by lifting the lever on top of it to let some water out. If this does not change the volume of water draining, then it needs to be replaced by a plumber. Do note however that issues with the pressure relief valve can also be caused by a faulty thermostat, in which case an electrician would be needed.
When should I call an electrician?
If the water coming out of your taps and shower is suddenly lukewarm but not completely cold the problem is likely to be your thermostat. If none of the issues listed in the section above is present, an electrician is best suited to deal with any thermostat related issues. Moreover, always make a point of checking the circuit breaker for your hot water system to see if it has tripped. If you open the service panel and notice that the breaker assigned to your hot water system is in the off position, turn all breakers off, then slowly flip them to the on position again. If your hot water circuit breaker trips again immediately, or soon after it was turned back on, that indicates an issue with the circuit itself. Make sure it is off, then call an electrician.
Communicate with your Trader
There are certain tasks that may require both a plumber and an electrician, or, potentially, a plumber with a strong knowledge of electrical systems. One example of such a situation is the replacement of a hot water cylinder or boiler where it is irreparable. In cases such as this, communication is key, especially before the plumber or electrician is booked for an in-person consultation.
Make sure you’ve made a list of all issues you have noticed around the main problem, including wiring issues or leaks and communicate them clearly and in as much detail as possible on the phone before booking an appointment. Whether you’ve called a plumber or electrician, it is likely that you will be notified at this stage if possible, what the best course of action would be, allowing you to make a more informed final decision before you are charged for any services provided.
How to know if my plumber is qualified?
Word of mouth and reviews on independent websites such as Which? Or Yelp can be invaluable in helping you make initial decisions about whom to go for when calling in an emergency plumber. However, if you want to make sure that your plumber meets all qualification requirements and is appropriately certified and insured, the best course of action is to check for officially approved plumbers. To this end, the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating, Water Safe, Homeowners Alliance and the Check A Trade website all provide very good resources for finding an approved plumber in your area. Verifying that your plumber is certified ensures that you do not have to deal with shoddy workmanship and that you have clear protections in place if something does go wrong during the repair or replacement process.
It is also a safe bet to opt for a tradesman or a business that is TrustMark registered. TrustMark is a quality scheme endorsed by the Government, intended to ensure that all registered tradesmen meet a high level of standards across the board and are providing high-quality customer service.
Ultimately, when in doubt about an issue with your heating or hot water, always err on the side of caution and call a professional as opposed to attempting to fix things yourself. Even if the first professional you call is not the one best suited for the job, asking for assistance is much safer than potentially overcomplicating what could be easy to fix the issue for a plumber or electrician.