Holiday electrical safety tips


The holiday season is an amazing time of year – one filled with family, joy and happiness. But it also comes with its fair share of pitfalls and by pitfalls – we don’t mean shopping snafus.

Did you know that according to the US Fire Administration that one in every three Christmas tree fires are caused by electricity? It’s pretty wild when you think about it. That being said, it’s not the holiday season without your lights – and today we’re going to talk to you about how you can keep those lights but also some advice on how you can be a little bit safer with regards to how you install and display them during the holiday season.

Fire resistant trees

We know some people are natural Christmas tree fundamentalists, but for those of you who do elect to go the plastic route – make sure you purchase one that’s ‘flame retardant’. It doesn’t necessarily mean the tree can’t catch fire – but it will do a much better job of resisting burning and in the event it does go up – the fire can be put out quickly. With natural trees you (as we’ll explore here in a second) are susceptible to all sorts of potential hazards – so plastic trees are without the shadow of a doubt – the safer route.

Buy a fresh tree

Trees can dry out and when they dry out – they pose a significant safety concern. If you’re determined to go the natural route – that’s fine – but make sure you buy the freshest tree you can possibly find. You can test the tree’s freshness and overall health by pulling on the green needles. If they’re difficult to pull from the branch and bend rather than break; then you’ve got a good tree. Once you’re home make sure it finds water immediately.

Always check your lights

Christmas lights should always be tested before they’re placed on your tree to ensure that they’re functioning properly. You can do this by checking for frayed wires or cracked cords as well as checking the strand to make sure you don’t have any blown bulbs. Even if your lights have a little damage – throw them out. It’s not worth the risk. Lights are affordable – so make sure you go the safe route.

Check your labels

Also be sure to read your labels, too. Believe it or not – there is a big difference between outdoor and indoor lights and knowing how to spot that difference can make a big difference in the level of safety threat your lights present. Indoor lights should have a green holographic UL sticker somewhere on their cord. Outdoor lights should have a red sticker. Use both accordingly.

Be mindful of your power strips and cords

Whether it’s your tree or your outdoor display – you’re going to be using a lot of wires and plug space will be at a premium. Be sure you are mindful of where your cords are and how much they’re being used. If you feel chords getting warm, unplug them. Check your cords every now and then and especially if you’re outdoors – to make sure they’re not being trampled, sitting in snow or any place they could spark and cause a hazard. And above all else- don’t overload your outlets!

Simply follow these tips and you should be well on your way to a happy, healthy holiday. If you have any questions or want some friendly advice on how you can make your home safer this holiday season, then give us a call today. Good luck!

Power strips, surge protectors and keeping you safe


Almost everyone works with power strips in their home. With so many modern appliances, tools and gadgets – we all need power and protecting them means a lot – whether it’s for enjoyment or if our productivity depends on it.

Because of this, it’s important that you understand the dos and don’ts of using a power strip and why these things are important. While we know that you understand how to use a power strip (it’s plug and play, after all) – there are a lot of things people don’t know about them – and that’s what we’re here to explain today. Here are some things we want you to keep in mind when you use a power strip.

Surge protectors are designed to handle multiple small loads

Power strips exist so that you can power multiple devices at the same time. That being said – they do have their limitations and it’s important to ensure that you don’t use them for major appliances like space heaters and power tools. Surge protectors have their uses – but one of those is not for heavy duty asks.

Know your voltage ratings

Pick a strip that meets your needs. Strips come with all sorts of power thresholds and as such, it’s important that you make sure that the power needs of a particular area don’t exceed that which the strip can handle. Doing so can result in damaged appliances and even electrical fires.

Never plug a surge protector into anything other than an outlet

We’ve all seen those safety reels with outlets stacked with 20 plugs and power strips. DO NOT do this under any circumstance as it leaves you wide open for an electrical fire. In addition, do not plug a surge protector into an extension cord or another surge protector. Doing so make your surge protector less stable and less reliable. Doing so is one of the fastest ways to insure that your appliances get damaged

Be wary of extended use

When you plug things into your surge protector, it’s important to understand that you can’t just leave them on for lengthy, extended periods of time. They will have to be shut off from time to time. Surge protectors can overheat and sometimes fail altogether if left on for too long, so be sure you make sure they’re getting a breather now and then.

If you’re looking to make electrical upgrades or have questions about how certain power sources will work with your appliances and devices – give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation. Good luck!

Electrical issues that make it hard to sell your home


One of the more underrated deal killers in real estate comes in the form of electrical issues. More often than not, people make the mistake of not upgrading the electrical system in a home because they plan on selling it and that’s a mistake. Questionable wiring and an underpowered house can really put a deal on the rocks and in some cases – kill it altogether.

While we understand that you don’t want to spend a fortune on a home that you’ve outgrown, it’s a smart idea to make sure that at least the basics are upgraded so that your potential buyers don’t go running for the hills. Here are some things you might want to consider upgrading or thinking about before you put your home on the market. Let’s jump right in!

Outdated wiring systems

Anytime you come across knob and tube wiring, aluminum wiring or anything that looks like it was installed during the Hoover administration – then it’s a real problem. Not only is it undependable, but it almost quadruples your risk for an electrical fire and some homeowners insurance companies will not be too pleased.

To boot – today’s homes take on more electrical burden than ever before. Consider a wiring upgrade if you haven’t done so already.

2-prong outlets

2-prong outlets are just not very useful in today’s electric-intensive world. It’s the digital age and as such – home owners want plugs they can use and depend on. Having properly grounded 3-prong plugs is the way to go. You might not care if ye olde Zenith bites the dust, but you’ll absolutely care if your thousand dollar smart gadget gets fried. Get those outlets upgraded. You don’t regret it!

Not enough outlets

In addition to not having the right outlets, many places lack enough of them. No one likes using extension cords and not having the convenience of a nearby outlet is seen as a major discomfort by home buyers. Make sure if you have a room or two with only one electrical outlet, that you consider adding one or two more.

Outdated breaker boxes

All your wiring runs through a breaker box and as such – those that are a little longer in the tooth should be considered for an upgrade. IN a lot of cases, some of these older panels have actually been recalled and in other cases – improperly modified. Issues with breaker boxes can stall home sales and impact not the function – but the overall value of your home.

 

If you’re about to put your home on the market, get yourself an electrical inspection to help address potential sales-blockers before they pop up. If you need a professional give us a call and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation.

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!