Staying Safe At Home

Three Steps for Using Extension Cords Safely

Posted by on Nov 8, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Three Steps for Using Extension Cords Safely

Although extension cords are an invaluable tool that can allow you to set up and use electrical appliances where you need them even if the electrical outlet is far away, there are many misconceptions and unsafe practices regarding extension cords. Here are three steps that will allow you to bypass the electrical risks often associated with electrical cords due to unsafe use. 1. Keep your cords in great shape Because they’re basically electrical wires encased in plastic, extension cords can transmit a severe shock just like your wall sockets can if improperly handled. Fortunately, the plastic coating is there to guard against shocks, but you’re responsible for checking the integrity of the plastic before using the cord. Only use cords that don’t have visible damage such as fraying, melting, ripping, puncture wounds, or kinking. To keep your cord from sustaining damage, use these best practices during operation: Never run the cord across a walkway or under a rug where people may step on it Never allow the cord to come near a radiator, electric heater, or other heat-producing appliance Keep playful pets (especially teething puppies) away from the cord Don’t let the cord get slammed in a door 2. Use the cord only as specified If it’s an indoor-only cord, don’t use it outside because it’s not rated as safe for outside use. Get yourself a new, heavy-duty extension cord for outdoor use instead. Be sure to read all the warnings that come with the cord and follow them, including (but not limited to) basic precautions such as not leaving the cord unattended while in use, not plugging too many things into the cord at the same time, and checking the unit’s electricity requirements against the size of the cord before use (some smaller cords may not be able to handle a large power draw, such as that from a large microwave). 3. Know your electrical system and don’t overload it Many infringements of basic safety measures stem from an inadequate electrical system. If you only have a couple of wall sockets per room, you may feel like you have no choice but to use power strips and electrical cords as additional plug-in locations on a daily basis. Plugging in a power strip and an extension cord to the same outlet may overload that outlet. Using cords in this manner overlooks the fundamental problem of an outdated wiring system, and, the more outdated the wiring system is, the more likely it will be unable to handle the strain you’re putting on that outlet. Overused outlets are another electrical hazard so, if you’re having this problem, call an electrical contractor like those at Royal Plus Electric and have him or her add some circuits to your system. These three steps will help you live safely with extension cords. Remember, if you feel like you can’t stop overusing extension cords and power strips because there’s not enough outlets in your house, you need to have an electrician update your wiring...

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Be Aware Of These 3 Electrical System Red Flags

Posted by on May 11, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Be Aware Of These 3 Electrical System Red Flags

Even a home that is brand new construction can run into sudden electrical problems. It can result in losing power to your home, or in some extreme situations, an electrical fire. You should be aware of your electrical system’s red flags so that you can catch problems before they get worse. Use these tips to identify three potential problems. Exposed or Frayed Outdoor Wiring Have you ever taken a close look at the wires going to your home from the utility pole? Do they look brand new, or do they hang low and look frayed? The wiring may be designed for the outdoors, but it needs replacement when it clearly has signs that the wiring is worn down. This type of damage happens from exposure to high winds or tree branches rubbing against the line. If you don’t have the line replaced, the exposed part of the wire could cause a spark to come off the wire and potentially start a fire. Your local electric company is who should be notified about problems so they can fix the wire. Circuit Breaker Problems Have you been frequently blowing fuses in your home’s circuit breaker panel? It’s a clear sign that circuits are overloaded. This can easily happen if a new appliance is installed in your home and it shares a circuit with other appliances that tend to hog a lot of power–for example, the water heater, microwave, or clothes dryer. An electrician can rewire the circuits so that the outlets are split differently, or install a new fuse that will isolate the appliances causing problems. Hesitations When Switching On Your Lights Do you notice a slight pause between when you turn a light switch on and when the lights actually come on? This hesitation could be a sign that your wiring is going bad. It might seem like a minor inconvenience, but it is not a problem that should be taken lightly. 8.3% of electrical fires are caused by light bulbs and lamp problems, and 11.4% are due to switches and outlets. It’s simply not worth the risk when this is a problem you cannot diagnose on your own. Contact a commercial electrician to inspect the wiring and make any necessary changes. These are just a few red flags that should be a concern as a homeowner. If you ever think that something could be wrong with your electrical work, speak with an electrician about it and see how serious of a problem it really...

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No Place To Plug In Your Beard Trimmer? Turn Your Single Electric Outlet Into A Double Outlet

Posted by on May 4, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on No Place To Plug In Your Beard Trimmer? Turn Your Single Electric Outlet Into A Double Outlet

As you add additional electrical appliances to your home, it’s inevitable that you’ll run out of outlet space. With the growing popularity of beards, the beard trimmer is one of the appliances that is vying for an even decreasing number of available outlets in the bathroom. If you don’t want to look like an extra from the movie “The Revenant”, you need to keep your trimmer charged and your beard tight. It’s time to do the manly thing and perform some minor electric work and change your single outlet to a double outlet. Here’s what you’ll need for a double outlet A 15 amp outlet You will simply be connecting another outlet to your existing outlet, so just buy a regular 15 amp outlet, with the two parallel slots and a grounding prong hole. Double gang box This is the plastic or metal box that sits inside the wall and holds the outlets in place. You will replace your current single box with the double box. You must buy an “old work” style box, which in installed with center screws, instead of a “new construction” style box, which is installed into open wall studs with nails that protrude from the sides. Double face plate This is the cover that fits over the gang box. Utility knife or hole saw You need to widen the hole in your wall to install the double gang box. Wire You need a three wire sheath of 12 or 14 gauge wire. Check the breaker that controls power to the existing outlet. If it’s stamped “15”, you’ll need 14 gauge wire and if it’s stamped “20”, you’ll need 12 gauge wire. You only need a very short length, so buy as little as possible, which will likely be a 25 foot roll. Wire cutter/stripper tool Screwdrivers Removing the single gang box Turn off the breaker that supplies power to the outlet, and remove the face plate screw to remove the face plate. Remove the outlet by loosening the two center screws, then unhook the wires on the sides of the outlets by loosening the terminal screws. Remove the gang box by loosening the two diagonally placed screws, then pull it from the wall. Preparing the opening and installing the double gang box Place the open end of the double gang box against the wall, with one side along the side of the existing hole, then trace the outline of the double box with a pencil. Depending upon the surface materials of the wall, use a utility knife or hole saw to cut a hole along the pencil line.  Push out one of the knock out tabs on the side of the double gang box and pull the wires through the hole, then push the gang box inside the opening and tighten the two diagonal screws to hold it in place. Connecting the outlets Use the wire cutters to cut two six inch lengths of the wire sheath. Remove the outer sheath and separate the three wires, and strip one inch of insulation from both ends of each individual wire. Twist the ends of the two green or copper colored ground wires around the end of the similarly colored wire in the gang box to split the ground wire into “pigtails”. You will reconnect the...

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How To Check Your Home For Electrical Problems (Safely)

Posted by on May 4, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How To Check Your Home For Electrical Problems (Safely)

Electrical problems in your home can lead to a number of problems, such as electricity waste and even fire hazards. Fortunately, several pieces of equipment will allow you to do some home testing of your electrical equipment, so that you’ll know when to look for professional electrical contractors. Here are some guidelines for doing home electrical testing.  Types of Testing Equipment  There are a couple of different tools that you can purchase to do home electrical testing. The first is a continuity tester, which will test for working, closed power circuits in your home. If you are unsure whether one of your power outlets is working or malfunctioning, you can place the continuity reader up to the outlet to determine whether power is flowing. If not, there may be a problem with the circuit. Another home tool that you can use is a circuit tester, which can help you test to make sure that your electrical supply is grounded and safe to use.  Hopefully, the power would have immediately shut off in the case of a circuit or grounding malfunction, but you should follow up with your electrical contractors to make sure that the wires are still grounded and electricity isn’t flowing in an unwanted path.  How to Use the Equipment  There are some steps to take in order to effectively and safely use this electrical testing equipment. First of all you’ll want to learn how to turn off your main power panel before as needed. Be sure to thoroughly read the safety manuals of all testers before putting them to use. Importantly, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t touch any wires or equipment with a current running through them. A voltage tester can help you easily test whether the power has been turned off correctly.  Staying Safe Even though home electrical testing equipment is designed to be safe for personal use, it’s important to use common sense and not to do anything risky. If you notice any unusual readings on your equipment, resist the urge to investigate further. Call a professional electrician right away to suss out any potential danger in your electrical wiring. If you are uncomfortable or unsure how to proceed with doing electrical testing safely, then it’s a good idea to have a professional inspector take a look at your home to perform safe electrical tests. Home testing equipment is a useful tool for diagnosing simple problems, but there’s no substitute for the skills and experience of a trained electrician. Contact a business, such as B Electric Inc for more...

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Three Ways You’re Compromising Safety With Electric Baseboard Heaters

Posted by on Feb 24, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Three Ways You’re Compromising Safety With Electric Baseboard Heaters

If you have just moved into an apartment that has electric baseboard heaters, and you have never used these before, you must be aware of the safety precautions you have to take. Electric baseboard heaters can work well if you use them properly and keep them in good shape, but it is easy to accidentally create a real fire hazard if you don’t know what you’re doing. Here are three common issues that can compromise your safety — if you want to use the baseboard heaters without any trouble, do not do these three things. Drapes, Papers, and Anything Loose Electric baseboard heaters get hot, and the heat can cause flammable items to combust. Papers that fall onto the heater from nearby tables, drapes that hang down onto the heater, and anything else that gets too close creates a fire hazard. Keep furniture away from the heaters — this can be difficult sometimes because older heaters are often very long, effectively preventing you from placing furniture against the walls they’re on — and shorten drapes if the heater is under a window. In fact, you may want to switch mto using blinds that end just below the window frame instead of drapes that extend to the floor. Running Cords Near the Heaters A related issue is electrical cords. If you have cords that are running along the length of the heater — even if the cords aren’t touching the heater — the heat radiating out of the heater may prove to be too hot for the cords. The air coming out of the heater’s vents right at the vent mouths is very hot; the hot air will cool as it travels around the room, so to ensure some heat spreads around, the air needs to be very hot when it leaves the heater. But that means that if you have a cord running right next to the heater, the excessive heat can melt the cord and cause a short, which could spark a fire. Move cords away — find other outlets, and don’t use any outlets located next to the heater. Not Cleaning the Heaters It’s normal for dust to build up over the summer, and you can get that first-use-of-the-season burning smell for a short time when you turn on the heater when cold weather hits. But excessive dust, webs, and other debris that falls into the vents along the heater’s edge can catch fire. Before using the heater when the cold season starts, remove the cover and carefully vacuum up the dust you see inside. Don’t touch any wiring; the vacuum’s wand should be able to suck up dust without actually coming into contact with the heater’s parts. If you have more questions about using the baseboard heater, contact heater repair and installation companies. It may be a good idea to replace very old heaters, too, so find out what the costs would be and how much more energy efficient a new baseboard heater would...

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Three Electrical Threats To Your Home

Posted by on Jan 12, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Three Electrical Threats To Your Home

You don’t have to have experience with electrical work to be able to identify a potential electrical problem in your home. By learning about some common issues that many homeowners face, you’ll be able to catch problems quickly and take immediate steps to ensure that they’re addressed safely. The best way to rectify the following three issues is to call a certified electrician in your city who will be able to visit your home in a short amount of time and offer his electrical services. He will make sure the electrical problem isn’t posing a threat to your house or your family, and if it is, he will fix it. Here are three issues to watch for. Wall Outlet That Doesn’t Hold Plugs If you encounter a wall outlet in your home that doesn’t firmly hold the plugs you push into it, you’re dealing with more than just a simple inconvenience. This problem is indicative of the electrical contacts inside the outlet being worn. The grave concern with worn outlet contacts is that they can lead to an electrical arc, which describes the situation in which the current jumps between the two contacts. With dry wood from your wall’s frame situated right in the vicinity, there’s a high risk of the arcing starting a fire. An electrician will be able to safely remove the problematic outlet and replace it with one that works correctly. Broken GFCI In Bathroom The wall outlets around your bathroom sink should always be outfitted with ground fault circuit interrupters. This term describes the two small buttons, labeled “Reset” and “Test,” that are typically located between the two outlets. The GFCI outlet is designed to quickly cut off the power to the outlet if water is present; for example, if you mistakenly drop a hair dryer in the sink. If you press the “Test” button, the “Reset” button should pop out with an audible click; with some GFCIs, a small light will also turn on. If nothing happens upon testing the outlet, it might be broken and could cause a shock to you or a family member. Call an electrician to have this vital safety component replaced. Heat At A Wall Switch It’s problematic if you turn off a wall switch and notice that the plate around the switch or even the wall itself is warm to the touch. This issue is symptomatic of a wiring problem out of sight, which could eventually lead to a fire if left untreated. Abstain from using the switch until you can arrange for your electrician to visit your home to test the switch and replace or fix it as...

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The Perks Of Electric Smart Windows

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Perks Of Electric Smart Windows

Window technologies have made great advances in the last 10 years. If you are shopping for new windows in your home, you have probably seen advertisements for products that are integrated for your smart phone. If you are interested in electric “smart windows” that are many things to take into account. An electrician, like the ones at Beckstoffer-Welsh Inc, will need to professionally install and wire your new windows. Before that, you need to decide which material is best for your frames and what style is most functional for each individual fixture (ie sliding or casement). This article explains some of the new window technologies and how they relate to choosing the best fixture styles. Smart Window Capabilities Many people in the sciences and construction fields are talking about smart windows. Especially some of the most cutting edge products, like smart glass that automatically change their tint with changes in temperature and sunlight. While the smart glass technologies are promising, they are not being readily manfactuered by residential window makers. Don’t expect to see them at your home improvement store any time soon. There are, however, many companies that are producing windows that have smart phone integration capabilities. These windows are fitted with motors that can control the shades and even open or close the sashes. Of course, these technologies have been around previously, except they were controlled with a remote, not smart phone. The smart phone systems have many more features. For instance, you can preprogram your windows to close at a certain time. Best of all, you can make all these changes from anywhere. You can be at the mall and decide to close your windows before the weather turns rainy. Many people love the fact that they can monitor their home with smart windows that are integrated with their security system. These are great because you can be in Paris and check to make sure that all your fixtures are closed and secure. All you have to do is open an app on your phone! This is a very popular technology for people who are away from their home for long periods. When it comes to smart windows, the more features you want, the more it will cost you. However, modern windows with state of the art technologies can end up making your property more energy efficient. Best of all, they are made in a range of different materials, so you don’t have to sacrifice when it comes to your home...

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What to Do during a Winter Power Outage

Posted by on Nov 12, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What to Do during a Winter Power Outage

A heavy snowfall, an ice storm, or a switchboard overload are just some of the scenarios that can cause a power outage during the winter. No matter the cause, staying safe while waiting for power to be restored is important. Here are just some of the things you should remember if your power goes out this winter.   Disconnect If you can do so safely, disconnect some of the appliances in your home, including televisions, microwaves, and computers. When the power returns, if you have a high number of devices powered on, this could cause a power surge or a power drain. If you are able to turn off any of these items by an on or off switch, you can simply turn them to the off position as an alternative.    Take a Hot Shower Many hot water heaters have reserve tanks that can keep water warm for a while, even when the power is out. Consider taking a short, hot shower to elevate your body temperature. Once you’ve dried off you can dress in layers to help retain some of the heat. If you don’t want to shower, run a hot shower and stand in the bathroom with the door closed to warm up.   Turn On the Water In extreme cold, a pipe can freeze in as few as 1.4 hours. The effects of a frozen pipe, such as busted pipe or water leak, can be felt long after power is restored to your home, so it’s best to avoid this type of scenario. Make sure you turn the water on to at least a slow trickle in some of the faucets around your house to prevent this issue. Avoid a Total Power Loss While these tips can help keep you safe during a winter power outage, you can avoid many of these nuisances if you properly prepare. Investing in a gas generator at the start of the season is one great preparation tool. Many of these generators are equipped with sensors that can immediately detect a loss of power, causing them to automatically power on and serve your home’s electrical needs with the use of natural gas. When shopping for a generator, it’s imperative that you are looking for a unit that is designed to disconnect from the main power grid when it is operating. If it does not disconnect, this can send electricity back through the lines, sometimes known as backfeed, which can prove fatal to any technicians working on the power line. Additionally, once power is restored, the surge of electricity could damage the generator. Before the harsh effects of winter take center stage, make sure your home is equipped with an electric or gas...

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4 Warning Signs That You May Need To Upgrade Your Electrical Panel

Posted by on Oct 23, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 4 Warning Signs That You May Need To Upgrade Your Electrical Panel

Your electrical panel is most likely not going to stop working all at once; however, it will give you warning signs to let you know that it needs to be upgraded. Watch out for the following warning signs that your electrical panel needs to be upgraded.  #1 Your Panel Is Full If all the spots on your panel are currently occupied, you may want to consider upgrading your panel. That way, if you want to add any additional circuits and outlets down the line, you will have the space to do so.  #2 Your Breaker Goes Off Constantly You should not trip your breaker on a regular basis. This should be something that happens so irregularly you have to think for a second where your electrical panel is located. If you’re constantly tripping your breaker, then your current electrical panel can’t handle your daily demand for electricity. You need to upgrade your electrical panel and you may need to add in a few additional circuits to manage your power load. #3 Your Lights Flicker When Big Appliances Kick On When your air conditioner, heater or other large appliance turn on, the rest of the electricity in your house should not be affected. However, if your electrical panel is overloaded, or if you have too many items on the same circuit, you will notice your lights flicker whenever large appliances turn on and off. They flicker because energy is being diverted from your lights to the large appliances that are demanding more electrical energy. Your current electrical set-up is not supplying them with enough power. #4 You Need More Outlets If you have an extension cord plugged into every outlet in your house, what you really need is more outlets. Your outlets are not designed to power so many devices all at once. When you start to notice that you are trying to expand the capacity of all of your outlets, you need to look into adding additional outlets throughout your home and expanding your electrical panel instead of adding more extension cords. If you see or experience more than one of the warning signs listed above, you need to call up a qualified electrician this week and get a quote on how much it will cost you to upgrade your electrical panel. That way, you’ll have a little time to save up and pick the right contractor before you absolutely have to upgrade your electrical...

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Avoid These Common Electrical Mistakes

Posted by on Aug 18, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Avoid These Common Electrical Mistakes

There are some electrical jobs you can do at home if you have some experience working with electrical panels, fuses, and wires. However, there are some common mistakes people make when they want to save a buck and avoid the hassle of calling a professional. Make sure you avoid the following electrical mistakes for your DIY project. Replace a Fuse Incorrectly The only time you should be replacing a fuse is if the current one is damaged and you are replacing it with the same fuse. Do not attempt to replace it with a larger fuse because it keeps going out and you want it to be able to handle more power. This is a very common mistake and one that could cost you in even more repairs. If your fuses keep going out, it is a good idea to call a professional to find out the root cause and change the fuse accordingly. Installing an Electrical Box Another electrical project you shouldn’t do yourself unless you have extensive electrical experience is replacing an electrical box. This is not an easy project to take on and poses a variety of electrical hazards. There are multiple mistakes that can be made when installing a new electrical box. For example, you might have cut the incorrect size hole and it doesn’t fit correctly, or if the box is pushing too far outside of the wall. It is meant to be flush with the wall, with no gaps between the edge of the box and the wall itself. The wiring is another big issue when installing the electrical box on your own. Improperly Fitting Wire Connections If you are working on electrical connections in your home, be careful that you don’t have any loose connections. If the wires are loose, you will be posing an electrical hazard. The same problem occurs if you try to strip a conductor and wrap wires around each other to make an electrical connection. This is not an alternative to having loose wires when installing new lighting or other electrical connections. The wires must be twisted together with wire nuts without trying to rig the wires to work in your favor. Choosing the Wrong Wire Size Lastly, make sure the wire size you are using is correct. This may seem like a minor problem, but it could cause potential problems with your electrical system if you don’t use the correct size wire. If you are adding a new electrical outlet, consider the type of circuit it will be connected to in order to choose correctly. If you truly want to be sure you avoid any of these mistakes, consider contacting an electrical contractor for professional...

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