Keeping My Home Safe For My Kids

Keep Your Home Safe: Decorating For The Holidays Without Overloading Your Circuits

When you put holiday lighting or other displays inside or out on your lawn, many of these take electricity to run. It’s important to know what you are dealing with when it comes to your circuits so that you can avoid overloading your system. Typical circuits in your home can range from 15 amps to 20 amps, with higher rated amps dedicated specifically towards high power items such as dryers. Each circuit has a breaker, which is usually located in a breaker box in your basement or garage. A 15 amp circuit handles up to 1800 watts of power, while a 20 amp circuit can handle up to 2400 watts. The Point of Circuit Breakers The circuit breaker is there to shut off the circuit if the power draw of items plugging into a circuit reaches maximum capacity. This helps prevent hot wires, circuit overload, and fires. The circuit breaker will pop when the wattage draw pulling on the circuit comes close to capacity. When you use too many items plugged into a circuit at one time, the circuit will break. It’s easy to identify the circuit in question when you look at your circuit breakers. Lightly touch each one and try to move the switch back and forth. The tripped circuit will be loose and need to be reset again. Typical Outdoor Holiday Lighting Wattage Use How much power you need to safely light up your front yard depends largely on whether you choose LED lights or Incandescent lights. 30 strings of LED lights, which will roughly wrap two large trees in your yard, will need 144 watts, while the same amount of lights in incandescent bulbs would need 1,224 watts. If the circuit you are plugging into is a 15 amp or 1800 watt capacity, you can see how quickly strings of incandescent bulbs can overload a circuit. Lights that go across your roof, such as a 500 foot C9 string, using incandescent bulbs, will need 3500 watts of power. A heavily lit outdoor display may need a number of circuits from your home in order to work effectively. While your circuit breakers will trip when you overload a circuit, you can help prevent fires by spreading out your power needs for an outdoor display among a number of breakers in your home. Don’t keep adding lights to a string well beyond the recommendations. Use common sense and […]

Continue Reading

Tips For Home Circuit Breaker Safety

There is some home maintenance and surveillance that you can do to ensure your circuit breakers don’t cause any fire hazards. Here are some steps to take for fire safety with circuit breakers.  Don’t Overload the Circuit Breaker The first step to take is to make sure that you’re not overusing a single circuit breaker. Your circuit breaker should have some information in the manual about the maximum capacity it can handle. You might need to consult an electrician, such as one from a place like Pearson Electric, Inc., to make sure that your home energy usage is under the recommended limits. If not, a second circuit breaker panel installation may be helpful.  Don’t Overuse Extension Cords At the same time, make sure that you’re not overusing extension cords in your home. An extension cord creates more strain on your circuit breaker for every foot of additional wiring it adds to your home. Check with the electrician to make sure that your use of extension cords is at a safe maximum; in some cases, it may be a smart idea to install additional power outlets where you need them most.  Replace Older Circuit Breakers Circuit breakers do have a finite lifespan. Your circuit breaker might give you clues that it’s ready to bite the dust when it begins to have more frequent outages. But the best way to tell if you should consider a circuit breaker panel installation is to consult an electrician who can give solid advice based on the age, model, capacity, and condition of your existing circuit breaker.  Watch for Appliance, Outlet and Switch Problems Another sign of circuit breaker hazards is when your appliances and switches start to have issues. For example, you may begin to notice a slight buzz as you turn on a light switch. Your appliances might get charring on the metal prongs of their power cords. Or, you might notice that an outlet feels hot to the touch. If any of these is the case, contact an emergency electrician to rule out any urgent issues with your wiring or circuit breaker setup.  Test Your Home Wiring You can get home testing equipment to test for problems with voltage and grounding in your home. When done on a regular basis, it can help you catch wiring and circuit breaker issues early on.  Track Circuit Breaker Issues Finally, it’s a good idea to keep track […]

Continue Reading

Electrical Hazards In Your Home That You Need To Address Quickly

If you live in an older home, you may have several areas that are unsafe due to outdated electrical components. Ungrounded electrical outlets and light switches put you and your family at risk of getting a shock. Many of these items can be updated in a couple of hours with a few simple tools. Others require the help of an electrical maintenance handyman to make sure the devices are installed safely. Here are some of the electrical items in your home to consider upgrading before a family members gets hurt. Ungrounded Electrical Outlets This is the most common problem in older homes. Two-prong electrical outlets were installed in homes before the safety of grounded three-prong outlets was understood. Any two-prong outlets in your home need to be replaced with grounded three-prong outlets. Replacing the outlet takes only a few minutes and is an easy DIY homeowner project, if you’re comfortable working with electricity. If not, then have an electrical contractor replace them for you. This is the quickest way to make your home electrical system safer. Electrical Outlets in Damp Areas Another hazard to address are electrical outlets near areas that can get wet, such as a kitchen or bathroom sink and in your laundry room. Even if the outlet is already a three-prong grounded outlet, they should be replaced with ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets. These outlets cut the power off to the outlet should something damp be plugged into it. For example, if someone plugs a hair dryer into a GFCI outlet when the bathroom is still humid from someone taking a shower, the outlet will shut off the power before the person holding onto the dryer gets a shock. Overloaded Circuits The electrical systems in older homes were put in place before people became reliant on many electrical devices running simultaneously. The circuit panel in your home may have been set up based on the location of the outlets and not on the anticipated load on them. For example, in an older home, if the microwave in the kitchen is running and the TV in the living room is on, someone plugging in a hair dryer in the bathroom may cause the breaker to overload and trip off. This problem needs to be fixed by having an electrician run an additional line from the bathroom to a new circuit breaker in the electrical panel. These updates to […]

Continue Reading

How To Stop Overloading Your Circuits

Everything was fine until you tried to run your clothes dryer and pop popcorn in the microwave at the same time. When you did, the lights went out in the kitchen. If you are continually blowing a fuse or causing your circuit breaker to flip, you may need an electrical upgrade. First, you can try to reduce the load on your fuse box. If that doesn’t work, you can have additional circuits added.  Track the Circuits When you have problems with overloading the circuits, you need to find out which circuit is being overused. Check your fuse box to find out which breaker switched off and then read the label. If your box was set up and maintained correctly, each circuit should be properly labeled such as “laundry room and kitchen,” “bathroom and bedroom 1,” etc. If “laundry room and kitchen” is the culprit, take a look at how many electrical items are in use in those rooms and figure out what can be plugged into another circuit. If your breakers and fuses are not labeled, you need to discover which circuit goes to which room or rooms. You can switch off each circuit one by one and note which areas go dark. Mark the sites in the fuse box with a permanent marker.  New Circuit In some instances, you might have added new appliances to your home that your current circuits just cannot handle. You may need to add a new circuit to your house. Before you have an electrician perform that task, you should do a load calculation to see if your electrical panel is able to handle that addition. You cannot just add up the amperage that your panel is officially able to carry. You need to calculate the average amperage you are using in your system. You can estimate this load by using an online calculator. You will need to enter all the electricity used by the appliances and lights in your home.  Experts suggest that you keep your electrical load below 80% of the maximum amps your system will allow. If you can add a new circuit while staying in these guidelines, go ahead and have an electrician perform the task for you.  They can even add a circuit dedicated to one appliance such as your new, powerful washer.  When you have problems with your circuit breakers flipping off, or you keep blowing fuses, you […]

Continue Reading

What Can You Do When Your Light Sockets Keep Burning Through Bulbs?

Light bulbs are relatively cheap and fragile, and a few prematurely burnt-out bulbs can often be attributed to simple bad luck. But if you start noticing a pattern of one, two or even all of your light sockets going through bulbs faster than they should, you may be facing an electrical issue that should be resolved both for your own safety and for your budget. These four steps will help walk you through the process of finding and fixing the problem with your light socket. Correctly Screwing in a Light Bulb It may sound like the start of a bad joke, but it is possible to incorrectly install a light bulb and many people are not aware of their own bad habits. Screwing the bulb in too tightly compresses and may even break a small tab located along its bottom, which can begin conducting electricity inappropriately and destroy the bulb over a much shorter-than-normal lifespan. When you install your bulbs, twist them gently into place until the bulb is snug but still able to twist and wiggle slightly.  Checking the Flow of Electricity to Your Sockets and Outlets In some cases, your bulbs may be burning out because they are receiving more electricity than they are designed to handle. Most modern homes and appliances in the United States follow a 120V system, but that number is more of an estimate than a precise figure, and your home’s electrical system may be carrying a significantly stronger signal. You can check this by using an electric meter on an outlet in the room with the offending socket, following all safety protocols in the process. If the reading comes back higher than 120 volts, it is likely the reason your fragile bulbs keep burning out. A professional electrician will be able to help you get your power flow back under control.  Testing the Consistency of Your Power Flow Bad wiring is typically a lazy response to any electric problem, but it may actually be the culprit behind your faulty sockets. Loose wires have more difficulty regulating the flow of electricity, allowing brief surges followed by periods of relative inactivity. Larger appliances can handle these minor variations, but they put too much stress on individual light bulbs and can lead to rapid failure. If you notice that the problem only affects one socket, or if the light has a tendency to flicker, this may […]

Continue Reading

Helpful Information About Electrical Arcing In A Building

Are you puzzled as to why the electronics in your business always need repairs or to be replaced? The root of the problem may be in relation to what is called electrical arcing, which requires fast attention from an electrician because your building might catch on fire if not. Take a look at the article below for helpful information about electrical arcing so you will know the importance of getting the problem fixed.  What is Electrical Arcing? When arcing takes place, it is due to electricity flowing through the wires the wrong way. For instance, rather than flowing through the wires and going directly through the outlets to power your electronics up, electricity jumps between conductors. Basically, jumping between conductors leads to a high amount of volts that causes the wires to overheat. The overheated wires can then cause the electronics in your business to short-circuit and need frequent repairs or replacements. One of the common types of damage that arcing can cause is melted power cords that are plugged inside of outlets. What Causes Electrical Arcing to Happen? There are various things that can cause electrical arcing to happen, such as if your business is conducted in an old building that has bad wiring. For instance, the wires may not have been replaced in a long time and have become frayed. Even if the wires are not damaged, they might not be sufficient enough to handle the power of modern electronics. Another thing that leads to electrical arcing is small wires in outlets. The only way to know what is causing the problem is to hire an electrician to perform an inspection. What Kind of Repair Might Be Required for Electrical Arcing? If the outlets have damaged or small wires that are unable to handle your electrical equipment, an electrician will simply have to rewire them. He or she might only need to rewire a few of the outlets if they are the only ones that are affected by electrical arcing, but in the worst case scenario, you will need to get the entire building rewired for handling modern power demands. The electrical panel might need to undergo an upgrade, especially if it has never undergone one before and the building is old. Consider getting an electrical sub-panel installed as well. Make an appointment with an electrician (such as one from Sun Coast Electric & Networking Inc) as soon as you […]

Continue Reading

The Best Benefits Of A Standby Generator For Homeowners

Power outages can cause a lot of costly problems in the average home, even more so if the outage lasts for more than a week due to severe storm damage to power lines and associated electrical equipment like transformers. For some homeowners, the need for uninterrupted power is great because of their dependency on medical equipment like oxygen machines. You may have a home business that would suffer down time and profit losses from a power loss. No matter what your vital need is for having an uninterrupted power supply, learning more about how you can maintain power with a standby home generator is important. Standby Generators Are Designed For Smooth Change-Overs If you have ever had to wait for power lines to be repaired before you can turn on the lights, you know how long it can take. This is especially true in areas that have suffered severe storm damage. For many people, a severe storm during the winter can mean more than just loss of lights, but the loss of heat sources as well. With a standby home generator, you never have to worry about power interruptions because they are designed to automatically come on when power lines fail. If you have a generator that kicks on as soon as lines fail, you never have to worry about: Food and medication loss because your refrigerator is off The loss of power to medical devices like oxygen machines Data loss on your home business computer Pipes freezing and bursting because your house is cold If you wonder about a generator being too small or too large for your home, you should know that several sizes are available for you to choose from. You can also have one installed for powering only certain parts of your home, a great benefit if you have areas like guest bedrooms or baths that do not require constant power supply. Money Savings With Superior Power Surge Protection Today’s standby home generators are design to disconnect your home from power line supplies during an outage so that when electricity is restored to them, your home’s electronics do not suffer damage from surges. When the power is restored, your standby generator will not re-connect your home until voltages become safely stabilized, a huge benefit if you have a lot of money invested in home computer equipment and home entertainment electronic devices. Having a standby home generator […]

Continue Reading

Simple Ways You Can Ensure Your Generator Has A Long Life

Regardless of how heavily your generator gets used each time you pull it out of storage there are certain practices you should be following. Not only will good upkeep and usage practices help prolong your generator’s life expectancy but they’ll also help ensure you get the best possible performance from it each time you use it. Further, good maintenance practices will also prevent catastrophic break-downs and potentially dangerous failures. Best Practices for Periods of Downtime There are certain behaviors you need to make a part of your regular habits when dealing with your generator. One of the most important is removing any fuel from the tank before storing the device, as gasoline can contain sediment which will settle out during storage. Draining the tank will help prevent this particulate from clogging your fuel line and preventing a clean start. Even if you’re unlikely to use it for a while, a few simple checks can tell you whether or not you’re ready for a storm. Just fueling it up and letting it run for 20 minutes can often be enough, and feeding power to a device will tell you if it’s producing electricity. If either of these aren’t the case it’s a good idea to have your generator looked at by a small engine mechanic or generator contractor. Regardless, it’s a good idea to have your generator  serviced prior to a big project or the beginning of severe weather season to check for potential problems before they come up. Maintenance During Operation Before running your generator for a long period make sure you’ve stocked up on oil, oil filters and fuel. This will help you avoid making a mad dash to the store at the last minute, such as during a major renovation or in the middle of a severe storm. It’s also a good idea to make sure your generator is grounded prior to beginning operation, especially if you’re using it during severe weather conditions. You can do this by sinking a steel rod into the ground and securing a chain around the base of your generator. During refueling, make sure you shut down your generator completely and allow it to cool. This will help you avoid potential flare ups in the event you spill or splash while pouring. You should also be ready to change your oil and filter based on your generator’s manual. For most generators that works […]

Continue Reading

What Are The Signs That Your Home Needs An Electrical Panel Upgrade?

Your home’s electrical panel supplies the electrical service to your home. The maximum amperage of the electrical panel is the maximum amount of power that your home can draw for its lights, appliances and other electrical devices. Although modern homes often have a maximum electrical service of 200 amps, older homes can have far less, because in years past many households had less need for electricity. If your home’s maximum amperage is not enough to meet your electrical needs, you’ll notice warning signs that indicate the need for an upgrade. What are the signs that your home needs an electrical panel upgrade? Flickering or dimming lights. If your lights flicker or dim when appliances turn on, this is a sign that the electrical devices in your home are competing with one another for electricity. Your circuit breakers trip constantly. Your home should not trip the circuit breakers on a regular basis. If this happens multiple times in a week or a month, this is a sign that you need an upgrade. Your electrical panel makes crackling or buzzing noises, or shows other signs of distress. Your electrical panel should run silently and smoothly. Noises, smells and signs of corrosion or fire are all red flags that indicate your panel needs an upgrade right away. What could happen if you don’t get an electrical upgrade? If you fail to get an electrical upgrade, you’ll continue to experience flickering lights and problems running multiple electrical devices. In addition, there are other problems you could also experience in the future: Insufficient power for a home remodel. Many modern appliances require higher amperage in order to function. If you plan to remodel your home any time in the future, or if you plan to install new appliances in your home, there’s a good chance you won’t be able to proceed with those plans until you’ve upgraded your electrical service. Circuit overload and fire. If your home is drawing too much electricity through your panel box, this could result in a circuit overload and a fire. Although many circuit breakers and fuse boxes are designed to shut down in the event that your electrical devices draw too much power through the circuits, your older panel may no longer be working as it was designed. In addition, if you have a fuse box, there’s always a chance that a previous homeowner replaced a fuse with a […]

Continue Reading

Top Reasons Why Baseboard Heat May Be Right For You

Are your feet always cold when you’re at home? Does it seem like the floor is always freezing, no matter what the temperature on the thermostat says? Even when your furnace is working as efficiently as possible, it can still seem quite cold inside. Fortunately for you, it doesn’t have to stay that way. Here are some reasons why installing baseboard heat may be just what you need: Quiet: With old radiator systems, there can be knocking or hissing if the pressure in the system is incorrect. A forced air system has its own set of possible noises that can occur when the system is running. But with baseboard heat there are no fans needed to circulate the warm air. Instead, a baseboard heater takes advantage of the fact that warm air rises and cool air sinks. When on, the heater will warm the cold air near the floor, causing it to rise to the ceiling. Taking advantage of physics like this means that the heaters can be used even when people are trying to sleep. Even heating: If your rooms feel quite warm from the waist up, but cold from your belt downwards, your current heating system obviously doesn’t heat very efficiently. Many homes have the heater vents near the top of a room, with a single centrally located return vent that is also near the ceiling. Unfortunately, filling your rooms with warm air from the top down, and reheating already warm air, can mean that there can be a significant temperature difference between the thermostat on the wall and the floor at your feet. With baseboard heat, you’re not fighting against physics. Instead of heating and reheating the same already-warm air over and over again, the heater will warm the coldest air first. Supplemental heating: Discussion about adding a new heating system to your home usually means that you’ll be ripping out your old furnace and replacing it with a different type. However, for reasons already discussed, this may not actually lead to much improvement. Baseboard heat can be installed throughout your home or just in the areas that need it the most. For example, you may have a picture window that is beautiful to look at, but that also radiates cold in the winter. Installing a baseboard heater beneath the window can help lessen the impact of the uninsulated window, allowing you to enjoy the room once again. For more information, […]

Continue Reading