If you have an electrical project around the home that needs attention, it’s often possible to handle it yourself — provided that it’s minor enough. While you might feel a little anxious about making sure that you’re doing everything correctly, you need to be vigilant about making safety your chief priority. Electrical work can be dangerous if you let your guard down, so it’s imperative that you focus on safety in a variety of ways. If you’re concerned about the depth of the job, especially where safety is concerned, you’re always better off stepping away and calling a licensed electrician. If you do proceed on your own, here are some safety tips to focus on.
Don’t Trust The Breaker Box Labels
If you’re even thinking about doing electrical work, you should already know about the importance of shutting off the electricity to the area in which you’ll be working by flipping a breaker in your home’s breaker box. What you might not know, however, is that you shouldn’t fully trust the breaker box labels. They’re not always correct, which means that flipping the breaker for the upstairs bathroom could actually kill the power in the hallway, but the bathroom could be on a different circuit. If there’s any doubt, it’s best to shut off power to the whole house.
Invest In A Current Tester
One of the best investments you can make when buying tools for an electrical project is to get a current tester. This handheld device allows you to see if there is current running to any electrical outlet, switch or fixture — after you think you’ve cut off the power. While a current tester is also valuable as a diagnostic tool for checking current in a fixture that appears to be broken, it’s impossible to overstate its value in keeping you safe during electrical work.
Use Non-Conducting Tools
It’s always smart to make sure that the tools you’ll be using for electrical work do not conduct electricity. For example, a screwdriver with a rubber handle is ideal because even if you touch something that is live and sparks shoot out, the rubber handle should protect you from being electrocuted. Make sure all your tools fit this criteria. Similarly, you should always make sure that your tools are dry. If you’re sweaty during hot working conditions, tools can get wet — and moisture increases the conductivity of an object. Don’t ever hesitate to dry a wet tool off on a towel before using it, and always keep your hands dry, too.
For more tips, contact a company like McDonald Electric.
There are three major ways of running an electrical cable from the main house to a tree house. Here are the three types of connections, their advantages, and disadvantages:
There are three main advantages of making an overhead connection to your tree house:
However, many people consider such connections an eyesore. Also, they can easily be affected by falling tree branches, which may create an electrical hazard. Then there is also the issue of weather; the insulating part of overhead cables is easily affected by rain and heat from the sun.
Underground connections are excellent for hiding the wiring. This means you won’t have to worry about tripping and falling on the wires or creating an eyesore with the connections. In fact, once you finish the work, you can forget about the connections unless a malfunction happens and you want to repair it.
However, underground connections have some unique disadvantages, for example:
While underground wires are protected from some weather elements, such as sunshine, they are susceptible to deterioration from others, such as water from rainfall or melting snow. Therefore, the cables must be protected from damage, for example, by running them through PVC conduits.
On the Ground
You can also run your connections to the tree house on the ground. The main advantage here is that the work involved is relatively easy so that you won’t spend a lot of money. They are also easy to repair or upgrade. However, it is the riskiest connection because the wires are easily affected by ground hazards. For example, people can trip on the wires and pets can chew on the insulation. In most cases, you should only go down this route if you are making temporary connections.
Whichever connection you opt for, ensure that you choose the right cable for the job. For example, choose cables marked “W” for wetness, meaning they can work under wet conditions, such as melting snow. You also need to consider the material for the piping or tubing that will be protecting the actual wire. Talk to an electrical contractor like Mid City Electric for help with these choices; don’t forget that there may also be code considerations to follow.
If you’ve recently moved into an older home or if you’re considering buying one in the near future, you may find that aluminum wiring is part of the package. You’ve probably heard rumors about aluminum wiring, which may or may not be true. The answer to whether aluminum wiring is unsafe is not a simple yes or no. In some cases, aluminum wiring can serve well with a minimum of risk. In other cases, it poses a hazard and will need replacing. Here are three signs that aluminum wiring may be unsafe in your situation.
1. Its use isn’t limited to appropriate situations
Although homes aren’t wired entirely with aluminum today because codes require safer options that can handle higher loads, there are some applications where aluminum is still allowed and considered to be safe. Single purpose circuits, for example, may use aluminum wiring safely, such as those dedicated circuits that may be used for an AC unit. If you find aluminum wiring throughout the house, rather than limited to safer applications, you may have some cause for concern.
2. Too many connections are made
One of the reasons dedicated circuits are safer for aluminum wiring is because they don’t have a lot of connections like branched circuits do. The fewer connections per circuit, the lower the chances are that a connection will work loose and start arcing. The safety issues with aluminum wiring are due to not the wiring itself, but how it interacts with the rest of the electrical system (especially when the aluminum is installed with devices rated only for copper wiring), so the more interaction there is, the more dangerous it becomes.
3. The wiring is from before 1972
If your house was wired in the era before 1972, it’s not only extremely old wiring by this point and therefore more likely to develop faults; it’s also a system that was likely installed unsafely. When aluminum wiring was installed back then, it was often used in conjunction with switches that aren’t compatible with aluminum and tend to cause it to deteriorate. This is because aluminum was being used as a cheaper alternative to copper and was just swapped in without adapting the rest of the equipment to work well with the new material.
If your home has aluminum wiring, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s unsafe. If the wiring is limited to a small dedicated circuit, is retrofitted with switches and devices rated for both copper and aluminum (co/alr devices), or was installed recently after co/alr devices were commonly used, the wiring system may not be any less safe than the wiring in your last home. If you’re considering buying a home with aluminum wiring, however, check with your insurance company first; aluminum wiring has gotten such a bad rap that you may have difficulty insuring a house wired with aluminum. To learn more, contact an electrical company like Direct Current.
The preponderance of home improvement stores encourage even the most reticent homeowner to perform some of their own electrical work. While some electrical repairs and upgrades can be done safely with a limited amount of specialty tools and expertise, amateur as well as professional electricians must always keep safe practices in mind.
Unlike other home projects, failure in electrical work could mean more than having the work redone. It may mean severe injury or death to the electrician and destruction of the home and inhabitants from an electrical fire. Here are some important things to remember when doing electrical projects.
You must be certain the power is off at your worksite.
Any work that is performed outside of the circuit breaker box requires that the individual breaker that controls the power to the location where you intend to work be shut off. Only the circuit breaker can shut off the power. For example, shutting off a light switch to work on an overhead light to change or repair the light is insufficient. A light switch simply interrupts the circuit. It doesn’t cut all power to the light. If you attempt to work on the wiring to a light fixture with only the switch turned off and you touch both the “hot” wire and a metal surface with a screwdriver, you will create a circuit of which you may be a part.
Working inside the breaker box
Performing electrical work inside the breaker box requires the main breakers to the home to be shut off. These breakers may be located inside the box or in a different area of the home. This means that you’ll be working in darkness, so adequate portable lighting is essential.
While simple tasks such as replacing breakers are relatively safe for the amateur electrician, more intricate repairs or upgrades to the breaker box should be handled by a professional.
Select the proper gauge of wire for your project
Using electric wire that is too thin can result in overheating and possible fire. The gauge (thickness) of wire to be used will be determined by the amp rating of the line. Electrical circuits for normal use in the home are generally 15 and 20 amp lines. A 15 amp line requires at least 14 gauge wire, while a more powerful 20 amp line reunites the use of at least 12 gauge wire.
Wire gauge numbers decrease as the thickness of the wires increase. The price of the wire and the difficulty in working with it also increases as the gauge number decreases. Never try to skimp on price or make the job easier by using wire that is not rated for the line. You must also use a corresponding circuit breaker to match the amp rating.
A 15 amp line must have a 15 amp breaker, while a 20 amp line requires a 20 amp breaker. Larger appliances such as electric dryers will require the use of 30 amp double breakers and even heavier gauge wire.
Great care must be taken in connecting wires to outlets and other components, especially with heavier gauge wires that are difficult to bend. Loose wiring can cause the line to fail or cause overheating that may lead to fire.
You must be mindful and respectful of the power of electricity, but if your fear is too great, leave it to the pros. You can conquer other worlds of home repair within your home.
Hurricanes can accumulate wind speeds up to 160 miles per hour and let off 2.4 trillion gallons of water a day. Because of this, your home can easily get damaged causing you to transform into survival mode. If you do not have a hurricane preparedness plan in place, it is essential that you do so. This will help you not only survive much longer in bad conditions, but it can relieve a lot of anxiety for you and your family when you find yourselves in the middle of a hurricane. Here are some things you should have available in case of a hurricane.
Weather Radio and Batteries
One of the most important things you should have available when you suspect a hurricane is a weather radio. This lets you know what the current conditions are so you can know when you should get ready for the storm. Additionally, you want to have an extra set of batteries on hand in case you do not have access to your weather stations on TV. Many weather radios have an alert feature on them. This means the radio is quiet until there are dangerous conditions, and then it will alert you. Since many fatalities from hurricanes occur during the night, it is important to have something that will alert you even when you are sleeping.
Another great thing to have in the middle of a hurricane is a generator. When the storm is so bad that it knocks your electricity out, a generator can help you get power back. In general, if you need a generator for just a few appliances, you can expect to pay around $1000, whereas if you need a generator to power up the whole house, you can expect to pay around $3700 to $5000. Even if you think you can wait out a storm without power, you have to remember this could limit all cooking, washing clothes, taking a shower, and much more. Companies like Powell’s Electric Service, Inc. can tell you more about generators.
Water Purification Kit
Clean water is essential to making it through a hurricane healthy. A person can generally live a week without water before perishing. That is if the conditions are not too extreme. It is important that you not only have water to drink, but that the water is purified. This can happen by having a water purification kit. Since flooding is prominent during hurricanes, you will need to make sure you clean the water that is accessible before you and any family members drink it.
If you’re the type of person who is constantly buying the latest tech gadgets – smartphones, tablets, drones and more – you might be interested in the idea of upgrading your home to include several smart technologies. Instead of getting overwhelmed with trying to make these upgrades on your own, consider hiring an electrician. With a licensed professional on your side, he or she will be able to make all of your smart technology dreams comes true and give you a true state-of-the-art home to meet your 21st century demands. Here are some upgrades to consider.
Keyless Door Lock
If you’ve ever been annoyed with fumbling for your house keys in the dark or perhaps while you’re carrying a bag of groceries, you’ll be able to say goodbye to this outdated conundrum by having your electrician install a keyless door lock on your front door. There are many such types of lock on the market, but a common variety pairs with a smartphone app. The door lock is then “smart” enough to detect when the smartphone is within close proximity – namely, you’re outside and ready to enter the home – and it will then unlock the door to allow you to enter without needing your house key.
Upgrading your conventional thermostat to a smart thermostat will make your life easier and save you money – and it’s impossible to discount the fact that a smart thermostat just looks funky on your wall. Your electrician can remove the old thermostat from your home and replace it with a new model that syncs up with an application on your smartphone. When the thermostat and app are paired, you’ll be able to control the temperature in your home from any location, as long as you have your phone with you.
Smart Light Switches
Another key addition that your electrician can make to your home is the installation of smart light switches in many of the rooms in which you spend the bulk of your time. The design of these switches varies; many of them will allow you to adjust the level of the lights in the room, as well as turn them on and off, from an app on your smartphone. Some products will take things a step further – you can actually configure your desired lighting levels in certain rooms (for example, you might favor low light in your home theater) and as soon as you walk into that room with your smartphone in your pocket, the light switch will “know” to adjust the light to your specifications.
For more help with electrical upgrades, contact local electrical services.
If you’re tired of walking into the house with an armful of groceries and fumbling around for a light switch, make your life easier. Install motion sensing light switches to turn on those lights for you automatically. This is a simple DIY project that takes about an hour and requires only a couple of household tools. Stop fumbling in the dark and replace those old light switches with motion sensing switches.
What You’ll Need for This Project
From the home remodeling store, you’ll need a motion sensing switch for each switch you want to replace. You’ll also need a decorative cover for the new switch. The old light switch covers won’t work.
Steps to Replace the Old Light Switches
Problems You Could Encounter
If you experience any of the following issues, you’ll need an electrician to help you finish your project.
You can get a lot of enjoyment from your deck, whether it’s lounging, sending the kids out to play or entertaining guests. A lot of your outdoor living has the potential to take place during evening hours. Naturally, that necessitates lighting. Because of the multi-purpose nature of your deck, lighting shouldn’t be an afterthought. Design your deck lighting to complement your outdoor lifestyle.
Brainstorm Task Lighting
The first step to usefully lighting your deck is considering where you need illumination to complete certain tasks. You definitely want your grill station or outdoor kitchen to be well illuminated. Pay especial attention to food preparation areas because you’ll want lights trained directly on these work surfaces. Think about other tasks you might do even in the evening or with clouds overhead, such as gardening, and plan to illuminate these areas as well.
Plan for Stair Lighting
Illuminating your stairs or other entryways to the deck is a prime safety consideration. How you light up this area depends on the setup. For example, if you have stairs away from the house, stair riser lights are a good option. These lights cast light directly into the stairs. If your entryway is near the house, it may be sufficient to train a track light onto the space.
Illuminate Posts and Rails
Another important area for illumination is the perimeter of your deck, which helps you get a sense of your space at night. Electricians can outfit most rails and posts with low-voltage LED lights. These should be wired to a switch separate from other lighting. Post and rail lights can also provide pretty ambient lighting for evening activities.
Light the Landscape
One of the best options for providing ambient lighting on your deck is to illuminate the landscape around it. For example, if you have trees near your deck, consider having uplights installed. Uplighting casts a low glow similar to the moon filtering through the leaves, which can provide a romantic atmosphere on your deck.
Add Festive Lighting
While you’re planning ambient lighting, consider festive lights as well. If you plan these out ahead of time, they’ll be immediately available for when guests arrive. Two options that Home and Garden TV suggests are origami lanterns and light strands. Origami lanterns serve as décor as well as lighting. Alternatively, consider winding strands of lights around bannisters and plugging them into a switch-operated outlet.
Choose a Statement Light
While many homeowners start with a central ceiling light, it’s not the most important light. However, you’ll still want to include a central light for quick illumination, especially of a dining area. While you’re at it, consider choosing a statement light, a decorative fixture. This could be an elegant ceiling mount or even outdoor chandelier. Just ensure that your fixture is rated for outdoor use.
For more information, contact Central Heating & Cooling Inc or a similar company.
If you’re a homeowner who has been noticing a lot of wild animal activity near your house lately, you’re not alone. Animal families are on the move, searching for food and shelter, especially as the hot summer approaches. Your house may seem like a convenient hiding spot for many animals including squirrels and raccoons. However, their good luck translates into your annoyance and damage to your home. Here are three ways to find those animals and keep them out.
Scan Your Home’s Heat Signature
Animals are going to give off body heat just like humans, and taking an infrared or thermographic scan of a home can help find any hidden animals. This is very helpful during breeding season when the noisy adult might not be the only animal in your crawlspace. The scan allows animal control companies to pinpoint the spots where the animals are, rather than looking in random spots to find signs of animals. Note that the scans can be used for any living being, including insects.
Scan the Surrounding Trees and Shrubs
Even if the scan of your house turns up nothing, that could just mean that the animal temporarily vacated its hiding spot before you began the scan. It may help to scan areas around your home, such as nearby trees and shrubs, for signs of larger animals. If you’re scanning outside, of course, you’ll no doubt pick up heat signatures from animals that plan to stay outside, but the animal control person should be able to at least detect a likely culprit.
Create a Refuge Away From Your Home
Once you’ve gotten any animals out of your house, you may want to be nice and give them a place to go. Setting up a small refuge in the area, such as a bat box or nesting box, can help draw the animals away from your house. Be sure to trim trees back from your house, too; you want to make your home less accessible so that the animals head toward the boxes you’ve set up.
If you have other questions about using infrared scans to find animals that may have invaded your home, as well as about keeping the animals out, you can talk to pest and animal control companies and scanner manufacturers. This less-invasive way to find animals that have or that might try to get into your home can make pest control a lot simpler and faster.
For infrared testing, contact a company such as Centerline Electric.
When a violent summer storm knocks out your electric power, the danger to your sensitive electrical components comes when power is restored. A sudden surge of power can cause loss of valuable data or even damage components beyond repair.
If you have a business that uses an extensive number of sensitive components throughout the building, you should opt for surge protection for your entire electrical supply. This type of protection must be installed at the main lines in the breaker box by a commercial electrician.
Of course, if you have a small office with only your own personal equipment, you can have a single outlet replaced by a surge protected model at a much lower cost.
While you can opt for a commercial electrician to switch out an outlet in your office (or a residential electrician if you have an office in your home), you can also choose to do it yourself for a fraction of the cost.
What you will need:
A 15 amp surge protector outlet
A 15 amp outlet will have the same two receptacles for plugs as your old outlet, with each receptacle having two parallel slots and a round hole for a grounding pin. However, it will have an indicator light in the center between the receptacles, which lights to indicate when the line is protected from power surges.
In the event of a power surge, the outlet will shut down and prevent the surge from affecting your sensitive components. It will then reset when the normal flow of power is restored.
An open face plate
This type of plate is similar to the face plate that hides and protects your old outlet, but is open in the middle to allow the indicator light to be seen. Instead of being held in place by a center screw as your old face plate, an open face plate has a sub-plate that fits around the outlet to hold the open plate in place.
Flathead and Philips-head screwdrivers
Removing the old outlet
You will begin by turning off the circuit breaker that controls power to the outlet. Plug a working appliance into the outlet and turn it on to ensure that you’ve turned off the correct breaker. When the appliance stays off, you will know that the power is turned off.
Use your flathead screwdriver to remove the old face plate, then loosen the upper and lower screws of the old outlet with a Philips-head screwdriver. Pull the outlet from the gang box inside the wall. Remove all wires by loosening the terminal screws on the sides of the outlet, then pull out the outlet and place the sub-plate for the open face plate around the outlet.
Installing the surge protected outlet
You will have disconnected either one or two sets of three wires. If one set of wires is found, connect the black wire to the top brass (gold) terminal, the white wire to the top silver terminal, and the green or copper wire to the single green terminal. Tighten all terminal screws until wires cannot be pulled away from the outlet.
If a second set of three wires is present, connect the black wire to the bottom brass terminal, the white wire to the bottom silver terminal, and the green or copper wire to the single green terminal (it can share the terminal with the other ground wire).
When all wires are attached, push the new outlet into the gang box inside the wall. Secure it with the two screws provided. Snap the face plate onto the sub-plate, and turn on the breaker. The indicator light will glow with the warm reassurance that your equipment is protected.
You will no longer need to be afraid of the wrath of summer storms and the effect of power surges on your computers or cell phones.
For an electrician, contact a company such as Sun Coast Electric & Networking Inc.