Like so many on the East Coast, we lost power after Hurricane Sandy. To take a walk on my street would explain why—in the span of just four houses, 10 trees came down, most taking power lines with them.
The first day or so without power provided fodder for family time with our teens. Then that got old. And we got cold.
On day four of our power outage, my husband decided it was time to install a generator. He went to all the home improvement stores to purchase a generator, and the sales clerks just laughed at him. They were all sold out.
A clerk at Sears told him that they were supposed to get another shipment the next day, and sure enough they did. Finally, we had a generator—a Generac generator to be specific.
Only problem? The generator, which is a gas generator, did a great job of allowing us to plug in certain items in our house—the refrigerator, for example, which the previous day I'd fully cleaned out when all our food spoiled. We could also plug in lights, our computers, and a space heater. But our heat and hot water were still inaccessible. What we needed was a generator service or an electrician who could wire our generator to our electrical panel—safely. I'd heard too many stories of homeowners who tried to do that themselves and burned down their homes.
Keep in mind that the day we decide we need this generator service was a Saturday. Our town has been without power for five days. Roads were closed so that the old phrase "You can't get there from here" really meant something. Nonetheless, we decided to do what we always do when we need to hire a contractor—we turned to a service that we trust.
That service used to be called Service Magic but it was recently rebranded as Home Advisor. It works a lot like Angie's List does—in that you read others' reviews of people they've hired and then you can make a smart decision for your own hiring needs. However, unlike Angie's List, you, the consumer, do not pay to access this information. Contractors pay to be listed. Some find fault in this model. I do not. As long as I can read reviews, I feel confident hiring someone.
I've used Service Magic or Home Advisor multiple times over the past decade. It has helped me in emergency situations—my ridge vent blew off my roof and we needed it fixed that day before a storm—and for preplanned home improvement projects. The company we hired to refinish our wood floors came courtesy of the service.
And this past weekend, after placing my request on the Home Advisor website for an electrician to install a generator, within 30 minutes I had a contractor (with a five-star rating, mind you), on my doorstep, ready to work. One day later the job was done.
Of course, the irony is this: a few days after we purchase a generator and then hire a generator service to hook it up to our electrical panel our power comes back on. However, the Northeast is due for another big storm this week—a Nor'easter. At least this time around I know I won't be without heat, hot water, or lights—now that we have a gas generator that can run the important electrical stuff in our house.