When it’s time to upgrade your electrical system


Although it might seem a little preposterous on its face, homeowners don’t upgrade their electrical systems nearly as often as they should. On a level, this is somewhat understandable. After all, as electrical systems age, they really become more inconveniences rather than something that breaks and doesn’t work altogether.

And sure, there’s certainly a safety argument to be made for replacing an electrical system. After all, the longer a system is neglected, the more likely they are to become a potential fire hazard. But the real reason most don’t get it upgraded is because even when they know they need to, they don’t know where to start.

That’s what we’re here to discuss today. Here are the reasons why you need to upgrade your electrical system and what the signs are that it’s time. Let’s jump right in.

Why your system needs an upgrade

In most cases where we’ve entered a home to do an upgrade, we’ll find a system that’s reflective of the time period in which the house was built. Of course, that can be good and bad! The main problem is that while older systems can take a lot of wear and tear (there is a lot of truth to ‘they don’t build ‘em like they used to’) – most of those systems were built to sustain a very low level of amperage. With all the demands modern electronics place on home systems – it can make it very easy to overheat the system and potentially cause a fire.

Another problem with older systems is that sometimes the circuit breakers will cease to trip when they get overloaded and as a result, you’ll get overheating and fires. Sometimes it’s because the breaker is old, but it can also be due to poor maintenance and not keeping an eye on things like loose connections and faulty wiring. So right off the bat – older systems carry a lot of risk with them and if you live in an older home; it’s probably time to consider something new.

How do I know it needs to be replaced?

There are a few signs to look out for that will indicate that it might be time to replace your electrical system. That being said – if you experience any of these things, it’s time to call in a certified electrician just to be safe.

Be on the lookout for:

  • Frequent tripping of circuit breakers and blown fuses
  • You purchase a home with very few outlets in the wall; particularly three-pronged outlets
  • Lights that flicker and/or dim when other appliances come on
  • Minor shocks when you touch appliances
  • Burning smells of any kind

If you see any of these issues in your home, it’s time to call a professional and it’s likely time for you to upgrade your electrical system.

To learn more about when it’s time to upgrade your system or to have us do a free walk-through, be sure to contact us today! Good luck!

Dealing with electrical fires


Talk to anyone who knows anything about fighting fires and they’ll tell you that electrical fires are almost always the worst. It’s hard to find where they come from and they can spread quickly and have a devastating effect on your home or place of work.

While we talk a lot about how you can prevent them from happening, sometimes you can do everything right and something still happens. And in the event of an electrical fire – it’s important that you know what to do. What you do first can often mean the difference between neutralizing a fire and it overcoming your whole home. When people’s safety is at stake, it’s crucial you know what to do.

Here’s what you can do if you’re ever faced with dealing with an electrical fire.

Your safety comes first

If an electrical fire breaks out and you can’t turn off the electricity – you need to put your safety first. Get to safety and call 911 immediately. That’s full-stop what you should do almost any time a fire breaks out.

That being said – IF you can get to a switch or source of the fire – unplug it or shut off the electricity. Unplugging the source will reduce the risk that the flames will spread and allows you to stop worrying about where the fire’s going and instead focus on where it’s out now and how you can put I out. If it’s safe enough to get to the electrical panel, do yourself the favor and make sure all of the power in the house is off. This way, you can take getting yourself electrocuted off the list of risks while you figure out how to put this thing out.

Next – the best substance you can use to extinguish electrical fires is baking soda. Baking soda has a chemical compound in it called sodium bicarbonate – which ironically is used in Class-C fire extinguishers. Remember when your Mom always had that semi-annoying box of Arm and Hammer laying around the sink? Well, now you know why.

And lastly – DO NOT USE WATER. Water conducts electricity, so you can spread the fire or put yourself at extreme risk for electrocution.

Once the power is off

Once the electricity is off, you have more options to fight the fire. Blankets are great if you don’t have extinguishers – although extinguishers should be your first plan. You can use baking powder as well and you should at the very least – be able to contain the fire without putting your safety in serious jeopardy.

But the best form of fighting electrical fires

is prevention. We recommend you invite an electrician to come over to your home once a year to do an inspection to make sure everything is working as it’s intended to. More often than not, people overlook the power load that their homes have to take on and that’s usually where problems start.

If you’re looking to make sure that your home isn’t at risk for an electrical fire, then give us a call and we’ll come and give you a free consultation and you can schedule and inspection. Until then, good luck and stay safe!

Protecting against power surges


Walk into your average US home and you’ll see more gadgets hooked into the wall than every before. Appliances, phones, TV’s, internet routers – you name it – it’s using electricity. Not only do these items create a lot of comfort, but they’ve also become a crucial part of our life.

The one thing they all share in common is that they all need electricity. However, with more demands placed on electrical systems than every before – the risk of a power surge is greater than ever before. And power surges can be extremely harmful to those devices and in some cases, lead to a potential safety risk.

Here are some things you can do to safeguard your house from power surges and make sure that your gadgets are up and running. Let’s jump right in!

Make sure you buy quality surge protectors

Surge protectors regulate the amount of power running into certain devices and when you have the right kind of protector – they can flat-out save a device from getting damaged in the event of a power surge. Talk to a licensed electrician about what kinds of reputable protectors there are and even more importantly – what kind of voltage fluctuations you’ll need in order to protect the devices that will be using it.

Don’t do repairs on your own

If you ever have an issue with your electrical system, we strongly recommend that you call a professional immediately. Not only can mistakes lead to surges, but this isn’t like your plumbing system – you can get electrocuted. In even worse case scenarios, you could start a fire. Hire a licensed electrician whenever you’re experiencing issues.
Keep your chords separate

Make sure your chords are both neat and out of the way of an area where they could get stepped on. Believe it or not, most appliance issues or power surges into a particular device come from someone stepping or tripping over a wire and plugs getting caught in/not in a power socket. Keep your surge protectors on, keep them out of sight, keep them neat and keep them in a place where they won’t get walked on.

No water – ever!

Water causes electric shocks when it touches electricity – but it also causes surges into your system. Something as minor as a little moisture can lead to significant short circuits, so keep switches, plugs and anything electrical – AWAY from water at all costs.

Stick to the tips we mentioned here and you’ll cut down on the risk of power surge significantly. If you are experiencing issues or would like someone to do a walkthrough of your home, give us a call today and we’ll give you a free consultation. Good luck!

Your home’s biggest energy hogs


If there’s anything we hear from our customers a lot – it’s them asking us how they can cut down on their monthly electrical bills. The truth is – there are a lot of ways in which that can be achieved – however, it requires a baseline understanding of what’s causing your bill to go up and why.

Today, we’re going to fill you in on who some of the biggest energy hogs in your home might be and how you can use them less to make sure you keep that utility bill at a more manageable level. Let’s jump right in!

Heating and air conditioning

In the winter, electrical heating can eat a serious hole in your wallet. In the summer, it’s the air conditioner. So whether it’s warm or cold out – you’re paying – and paying a lot just to stay comfortable!

The best thing you can do to keep your expenses down is to make sure your HVAC system is regularly maintained and cleaned. When you don’t, these appliances will begin to overwork or overcompensate. When the system overworks and overcompensates, you’re using more energy. And when you’re using more energy – you’re paying!

Also invest in a digital thermostat. You’ll save a significant amounts of money just making sure that your desired temperature is maintained. In addition, you’ll also be able to schedule heat and cool air for the times when your home so your HVAC system isn’t working continuously all day.

The fridge

Refrigerators run around the clock, so naturally they tend to use up a ton of energy. The best way to minimize your consumption is to upgrade to a more energy efficient model, but if don’t have a few thousand dollars just kicking around the house, then you can optimize the one you have already!

We recommend keeping your fridge right around 32 degrees and your freezer at 0. That’ll be more than enough to keep your food cold and frozen. Also, be aware of how much time you spend in your refrigerator door as every time you do, you’re letting out cold air and the fridge will have to work hard to make up for that lost once the door is closed again. Additionally, give the coils and vents on the bottom and back of the unit a solid cleaning every now and then.

Incandescent bulbs

If you still have old school incandescent bulbs kicking around, then just get rid of them and buy some LED ones. Prices on LED’s have decreased a ton in recent years and they last up to 20 times longer than traditional bulbs do. They also use 80% less electricity. The sooner you upgrade to LED bulbs, the sooner you will start to save money.

 

Bills don’t come cheap these days, so hopefully these tips will help you save a little coin! If you need advice from us on how else you can become more energy efficient, just give us a call and we’ll be sure to give you a free consultation. Good luck!

Why are my lights flickering?


Random flickers can be quite common in homes and when they happen, they’re almost never a cause for much concern on your part. However, if you notice that your lights are flickering frequently, then something potentially dangerous could be happening and you need to call a professional as quickly as possible to come and take a look.

Lights flicker for a variety of reasons – usually because your system was momentarily overwhelmed when something that uses a lot of power is plugged into the wall. Other times its faulty wiring and equipment. Whatever it is, it’s important to get handle on the problem as soon as possible, just in case there’s a deeper issue. Here are some of the reasons why lights flicker and what you can do to fix them.

Faulty switches

If you’re finding that one particular light or set of bulbs is flicking, then your light switch might be the culprit. Light switches need to be changed because the switch themselves can overheat and cause an electrical fire. So when you’re noticing the same lights controlled by the same switch flickering, look to your light switch as the source of the problem.

Poor equipment/appliances

Today’s gadgets use significantly more power than they did years ago. Things like TV’s and vacuum cleaners can actually cause surges within your electrical systems which can cause the lights to flicker and in some cases, can cause your lights to look dim. When this happens, it’s usually the appliance or equipment that’s to blame. If this is the case be wary of what’s plugged in and what isn’t when you elect to use it – assuming that you feel that it’s still safe to. Calling the appliances manufacturer is advisable as you might need a replacement.

What about LED lights?
LED lights flickering usually has nothing to do with your system and everything to do with the dimmer switch on your lamps or fixtures. When you use dimmer switches in a traditional bulb, a piece of metal heats up and creates light. When you use the switch it gets brighter and dimmer. With an LED bulb, it turns off and on depending on the level you want it at, so it’ll flicker. It might be a bit annoying at first, but other than that, it’s completely harmless and you’ll be fine. If the LED light is not attached to a dimmer switch, then something else might be going on.

If your lights are flickering and you can’t figure out why or you’re experiencing burning odors, then it’s time to call a professional. If you need a free consultation, our team is available any time. Good luck!

Signs you need to upgrade your workplace electrical system


Office fires are bad for business. In some cases, they’ll even put you out of business. According to the National Fire Protection Association, almost 80% of small businesses that experienced a fire never reopened.

Other consequences aren’t great, either. They range from a loss of property, data and equipment to actual loss of life. Making sure that your electrical system is safe and reliable is an integral part of not only the safety of your workplace, but also the security of your businesses.

Here are some signs that your wiring may be out of date and why it might be time to get it replaced by a Tampa electrician.

An old building

Buildings that are 50+ years old come with a lot of character, but also come with some particularly worrisome flaws – including old, faulty writing and electrical systems. In fact, old wiring is among the top 5 most common causes of electrical fires – so it’s important you get it inspected and upgraded.

Breakers that constantly trip

The demands technology places on electrical systems is greater than ever and breakers are our first line of defense as they prevent circuits from overloading. In the event that they do and you keep tripping the same breakers – the circuit is likely overloaded and it’s time to upgrade the capacity.

Buzzing lights and outlets

Buzzing switches and outlets are extremely succeptable to electrical fires and should be taken very, very seriously. In the event you hear buzzing from any switch or outlets, contact a professional immediately.

Flickering and dimming lights

Lights don’t tend to use very much electricity and as a result, when they flicker – it’s usually not because there’s something wrong with the light. It’s usually indicative of a much greater problem within the electrical system itself. So when you see lights flickering, it’s likely that a circuit is overloaded or is at capacity and it’ll be time to upgrade your wiring and capacity.

Scorched outlets

Outlets and light switches should never be warm in any meaningful sense. They certainly shouldn’t be showing signs of scorching. In this situation, it’s usually less that the system needs upgrading as much as you just need more outlets. So if you need more outlets, add them. They’re much cheaper than the cost of a hiked up insurance premium due to fire related damages.

 

If you’re experiencing any of these issues, it’s time to call a pro. If you’d like us to give you a free consultation to help get your workspace up to scuff, give us a call. Good luck!

How your home’s electrical impacts its value


Are you thinking of holding off on upgrading the electrical system in your house because you’re thinking about selling it? DON’T. Take it from us – it’s a bad idea to sell a home with electrical issues, or a system that’s long in the tooth. Putting these things off can even deep-six a potential sale.

While curb appeal is all the rage and is important in it’s own right, it’s usually what’s under the hood of the house that can cause a deal to fall through. It’s when you find that thing in the corner or that defect behind the scenes that sends a potential buyer shopping elsewhere.

Getting top dollar for your home should be a priority for anyone, but to do that – you’ll need to think about some upgrades. Here are some common issues we’ve encountered that give people reason for pause when they’re looking to buy a house.

Let’s jump right in!

Outdated wiring systems

Make sure your wiring system isn’t something from the Cleveland administration. Knob and tube aluminum wiring will cause insurers and inspectors heading for the hills. In order to manage today’s significant electrical loads, you’ll want to make sure your home is supported by modern, solid copper wire and make sure things are grounded.
2-prong outlets

2 prong outlets just won’t get the job done these days. In the digital age, home buyers want lots of plugs – not only that they can depend on, but in places that are convenient to them. All your outlets should be 3-prong and grounded. You might not care that your old Zenith gets zapped but your buyers will care that their nice, shiny new toys will.

Not enough outlets

Like we said above, an outlet per room just doesn’t cut it anymore. There should be multiple outlets in every room and in locations that are convenient for users in places such as next to nightstand, in the bathroom or just outside the front door.

Circuit breaker panels

All your wiring will run through a circuit breaker panel. Those that are outdated, recalled or uh… ‘customized’ to fit a home – need to go. Not only is this a safety issue, but undersized boxes can often stall a home sale, which not only effects the value of your home, but how insurable it is.
GFCIs

Every outlet that is in the presence of some sort of water – whether it’s a bathtub, sink, dishwasher or washing machine – should be GFCI equipped as water will dramatically increase the risk of electrical shock. Whenever there is an imbalance detected in your electrical system the current will shut off – keeping you and your loved ones safe.

So if you’re about to put your home on the market – take a look at some of these things and determine whether or not you might need to make a upgrade. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to get an inspection beforehand that can help you circumnavigate these issues before they torpedo any potential sale. Good luck!

Becoming a little more energy efficient


Everyone has become a little bit more ‘green’ these days. Supermarkets don’t use plastic bags, electric cars are slowly building in popularity and recycling has become part of our day-to-day routines.

While some of these changes have felt seamless, they’re not exactly easy – and some require some effort.

The good news for us in the electrical world though – is that going green isn’t complicated or expensive. In fact, it saves you a lot of money. Here are some tips that can help you conserve energy, run a more efficient home and put some money back into your pocket in the form of savings.

Switching out your bulbs

Energy-saving bulbs is good for the environment, but will save you a ton of money, too. They use about 80% less energy on average and produces the same amount of light at a lower 13-18w set as a traditional 60w bulb would. That’s a pretty big difference!

Lights off, folks

Remember how annoyed you’d get when your parents would ask you to switch the lights off every time you left a room? Well, we hate to break it to you, but they were right. In fact, doing so over the course of a month can save the average home owner in upwards of 10% on their electrical bill.

Wash wisely

If there was every an appliance that sucked up an incomprehensible amount of electricity, it’s the dishwasher. Not only do the faucets need to run, but there’s a heater, dryer, filter, sucking the water in and out and even a computerized interface… it all uses a ton of electricity. Our advice is to use it more judiciously. Don’t run it every night –wait until it’s full, then use it. Also, it’s not a bad idea to make sure you’re washing what you can in the sink and rinsing off dirty dishes. It makes a huge difference when your washer doesn’t have to work so hard.

Lookout for the logo

Always be on the lookout for the Energy Saving Recommended logo or Energy Saver stickers. These appliances are specifically designed to run more efficiently and save you some cash. They may cost a little more up front, but they’ll save you a boatload of money between the purchase and the need of the appliances’ lifespan.

There are so many ways to save on both electricity and on your monthly bill. Just be smart about it. If you want to discover some other ways you might save more –call an electrician and they may be able to do an energy audit that can tell you what’s being used, at what clip it’s being used and what you can do to run a more efficient home.

Should you consider buying a generator?


One of the more interesting questions we frequently get is whether or not our customers should purchase a generator.

Believe it or not, this is timely, because the winter will be coming to an end sooner rather than later and with it will come the inevitable summer storms that knock power out, etc. And nothing stinks worse than being stuck in the dark for days at a time. Long story, short – now’s the time to discuss this.

That being said, while generators are a huge luxury for homeowners, they’re not ideal for every situation. Instead of telling you why you should or shouldn’t buy a generator, we’re going to instead give you the questions that you need to be asking yourself if you’re interested in purchasing one. That way, you can come to the best answer for yourself and your situation.

Let’s jump right in!

What runs on electricity in your home?

There are a lot of homes that are built to avoid power outages better than others. If your HVAC system, water heater, oven, stove and the like all run on natural gas, then you’re going to be fine if the power goes out. If they’re powered by electricity though, you’ll want to make sure you have those conveniences when the power goes out. Especially in the winter time when things get colder.

Do you have enough space?

While portable generators are ‘portable’ in a sense, they’re not that small. Some can be the size of a few car batteries while others can be as big as a 120 qt beverage cooler. When you aren’t using your generator, you’ll need a covered, safe space to keep it stored.

Additionally, you’ll need to remember to use them outside – which means you need to see if you’ve got enough space to run it. Generators give off carbon monoxide, so keeping them out of indoor settings is crucial. You must also keep them covered if it’s raining out as well, so be sure you have a tent handy or something to keep the generator under shelter once it’s outside doing it’s job. While you might have plenty of room for all of this in your home, if you live in a multi-family setting, you might not.

And last, but certainly not least – most generators run on fuel of some sort. Do you have a safe place where you can store it?

What’s essential?

Look, while things like the internet, TV and the like are nice to have – they’re not essential. When we say ‘essential’ we really mean it. We’re talking about the things keeping you alive. Things like medical equipment, respirators, and the like. If you have someone in your home who is dependent on these sorts of things to stay healthy – then absolutely, 100% buy a generator in case something occurs.

Consider the alternatives 

Ask yourself how you would deal with a multi-day outage. You can charge certain handheld devices with solar charges and power banks. You might be able to descend on the local café to give your phone a charge and grab a cup of coffee while you wait. You could keep cool in your car, or you could pack up for a hotel for a day or two or maybe go visit the in-laws. There are lots of ways to brave the proverbial storm.

That being said, if your in-laws are the absolute worst, you hate coffee, have a huge fridge full of steaks you can’t afford to see go bad, or more seriously – have a home business that you’re running – maybe owning a generator is your only option.

If you’re still unsure as to whether owning a home generator is right for you, then give us a call and we’d be happy to walk you through the process and determine whether it’s something that’s a good idea for your particular situation. Good luck!

Power Strips 101


While we’re becoming more ‘wireless’ than we’ve ever been, the devices that run our lives today all require electricity of some sort in order to function. As a result, we still need to plug things in. And what’s one of the most common mistakes people make when it comes to electrical safety?

Overloading power strips.

So let’s be real for a minute – we’ve all overloaded power strips. Admit it. It’s easy to do, it’s easy to convince yourself you can get away with it for a few minutes and it’s even easier to just forget about it and leave the device plugged in.

What isn’t easy – is dealing with the damage that can be caused by an overloaded board. Here are some safety tips from us on how you can protect yourself and your home for the dangers of overloading power strips.

Never piggyback

The piggyback method is a really bad idea that people have that overloads a power strip by plugging one plug in and then connecting another to create a longer chord. Truth is – every strip has a max current rating and that’s determined by the design and structure of the strip. It doesn’t account for the use of other adaptors or other strips. So when you add another strip to a strip – you are creating too much current and simultaneously creating an electrical fire hazard!

Overload protection

Most power strips have overload protection built it. It automatically interrupts power supplies and prevents excess electricity from damaging or exiting your power strip.

Mind your maintenance

In addition to not overloading your power strip, you should make sure it’s clean and maintained well. Be sure to keep it on its side so that dust doesn’t build up in unused or unwanted places on the strip. Also be sure to check the strip to make sure there’s no cracked covers, frayed wires, burn marks or discoloration. All those things could suggest your strip is old or entirely defective.

Keep your power strip ventilated

We’re not talking about keeping the strip cool so much as we’re asking you to keep them from overheating by stuffing them between couch cushions, furniture and the like. Make sure they have places to breathe. That way, you won’t have to worry about overload as much.

And finally

Make sure you’re not plugging in things that have a higher wattage than what your strip can hold. 90% of power strip related fires come from just that. Plug in the usual stuff – lamps, cell phones, etc – but when it comes to bigger ticket items like TV’s or air conditioners – keep those plugged into the wall directly.

 

If you need help ensuring a safer electrical outlay in your home, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free inspection! See you again soon!