When a business should get their electrical system inspected


Making sure you get your electrical system inspected routinely is important. Not only is it an investment in the safety of your employees and office space – but it can also improve the energy efficiency of your office and help you save substantial money on your electrical bills.

While regular maintenance does work – there are some signs that you should look out for that could indicate that you need more than just routine maintenance. Here are some of the things you should be on the look out so that a minor issue doesn’t become a major problem for your business. Let’s jump right in!

Flickering office lights

Always be on the lookout for flickering office lights. Now it’s entirely normal for lights to flicker every now and then – but when it’s a regular occurrence it’s not only annoying, but it could be the sign of a deeper problem. Your circuit wires could be outdated or no longer in line with the latest standards. Perhaps too many devices are plugged into the wall. Or even worse – there could be a severely overloaded circuit.

Especially if you notice that the flickering is going on in more than one room – it’s important you call a licensed electrician immediately.

Warm electrical outlets

If you’re noticing that outlets are warm to the touch – then you’re overdue for an electrician to come out and give your electrical system a once-over. Outlets DO warm up a bit as a part of the process of converting AC into DC power. But when it gets hot to the touch, you could have more current than what the circuit is capable of handling. It could also be mismatched or damaged wiring.

What ever it is – warm electrical outlets could be a sign of a blossoming electrical fire. Don’t take the risk.

If you’re in an older building…

Older buildings are great to look at, great to work in and have tons of character. That being said – with the demand devices place on electricity – it’s getting harder and harder for them to maintain the necessary levels to power them safely.

If you’re in an older building, be sure to have it inspected before you sign any lease – or have it looked at yourself if you’re the owner. There are a lot of underlying issues that could catch you by surprise – even aside from the wiring. There could be flammable insulation around the wiring, the way it’s laid out could be dangerous, etc.

Be sure you get your office checked just in case.

Sparks

Anytime there are sparks – and we mean anytime – immediately call an electrician. Shut off the breaker to that particular location in the building, call a pro and have them come look. Sparks can happen for a whole range of reasons and particularly if you’re in a workplace where there’s a lot of flammable things around.

Remember – it only takes one spark to set off a fire and if you’re in the wrong kind of building – that could be a serious threat – particularly to the health and safety of your people.

Keep an eye out for these things and if you see any of them, have a pro come and inspect your system. Over the long run, you’ll cut off a lot of potential problems before they become and actual crisis. Good luck!

Electrical safety during a pandemic


Well to say the least – things have changed quite a bit since we spoke last! As we all come to grips with our new temporary reality, we know that things are changing all around us – from how we work to how we’re simply trying to keep our own sanity.

While being home all the time is fun at first, setting up a home work station can take some work and even more challenging – keeping those work hours can be difficult. Not only that – but lots of new electrical safety issues can pop up in times like these. Here are some tips on how you can make sure your workstation is set up – and set up for safety. Let’s jump right in!

Charging devices

As we’re all working from home – we’re all keeping in contact with each other through our various devices – whether it’s laptops, cell phones or other mobile devices. Other devices will be hard at work occupying our children. Whatever they’re doing – we know that these devices are going to be getting a workout during coronavirus lockdown – and there’ll be a lot of charging that needs to go on.

Always be sure to make sure that your devices are charging on a hard, flat surface. Don’t leave them plugged in on a bed, couch or near something that could catch fire. Also be sure you’re using the correct charger for the proper device. And as always – be sure to not overload sockets. Try to keep it at one device charging at a time.

Watch what you’re heating!

Half of all accidental fires happen because something went wrong in the kitchen. Make sure that when you’re in there, you’re concentrating on the task at hand and not that dive bomb phone call or email. Don’t leave things like dishwashers, microwaves and ovens running when you’re busy working or out of the house. Keep your things safe and your kitchen safer.

Shop safely

We’re all counting pennies right now and stuck at home for, well – however long it takes. If you’re going to be buying an electrical bargain to pass the time – make sure you know what you’re buying and whom you’re buying it from. A lot of these second hand chargers and devices are made from substandard products and parts that can pose an electrical safety hazard. These products – if misused – can be deadly. Read the reviews and shop intelligently.

And most important of all –

Stay healthy! What a wild time this is for us all, so keep your cool, stay busy and from us to you – stay healthy and safe! We’ll see you all next month!

Dealing with electrical overloads


Your average US home has over 10 appliances in it – and that’s not even coming close to covering the myriad of other electrical devices that are putting stress on your system. When too much power is being used at once, breaker boxes can trip.

While the lost power is an inconvenience, more important is that these overloads can also cause fires if not monitored correctly. Today, we’re going to discuss some of the things you can do to enhance your chances of not having to deal with this sort of electrical problem. Let’s jump right in.

Get inspected once and a while

If fuses are blowing and breakers are consistently tripping, then you might have more than a simple problem on your hands. That’s why it’s good to have an electrician come in and inspect your home.

During an inspection electricians will check all of your wiring and electrical connections within your home to make sure that they’re in good, working condition. This is important because the electrician may identify problem areas that might be beginning to peak their head up from the depths. And when you can get out ahead of problems – they’re almost always easier to fix.

This includes breaker trips and fuses. Perhaps something underlying is causing your box and switches to shut down – and an inspection is a good way to not only identify the issue, but stay ahead of the issues yet to come.

Don’t use too many extension cords

Extension cords are a pretty common feature of most US households, but we encourage you to use them with caution. It’s never a good idea to plug an appliance into an extension cord. Instead, they should be plugged directly into a wall outlet.

Cords should also only be used temporarily. If you rely on them to power your appliances, then you might need new outlets. Not doing so can cause malfunctions and result in your breaker box frequently tripping. Use them with care!

Know what’s under the hood

Electrical overload happens when a system has too many things drawing power off of it. There isn’t a specific magic number as to how many will do the trick, but it’s important for you to know how much strain your breaker box can handle so that you ensure that you won’t end up using that amount.

Generally speaking, we live by the law of 80% which says that a box will trip when it reaches 80% usage. Think of what your breaker box’s amp load is, and steer clear of that 80% capacity as much as you can.

 

If you’re still experiencing issues with your breaker box tripping and other electrical overloads –then give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation. Good luck!

The benefits of recessed lighting


One of the most popular renovations we take part in are upgrading light fixtures – and specifically switching from hanging lights to recessed lighting. Recessed lighting is popular for a whole host of reasons – one of which being that recessed lighting makes a room look and feel bigger.

Especially in smaller homes and rooms like you find here in the Largo, Florida area, recessed lighting can make a big difference in the look and feel of your home. Today – we’re going to make a small departure from the usual safety-oriented content in our blogs and discuss aesthetics. Specifically – why people like recessed lighting so much and what the benefits of having it are. Let’s jump right in!

Wall washing

As we mentioned above – recessed lighting makes a room look and feel bigger. This is due to an effect called ‘wall washing’. This kind of wall washing doesn’t involve soap and water – but rather it is the effect that the lighting has on the walls.

Wall washing casts more light around the room via the use of trim. What that trim does is serve as a directional reflector that casts a wider net in terms of the light itself being spread out. This means a more efficient, brighter room.

It brings other accents forward

Another great feature of  recessed lighting is that it can be used to really emphasize other things in a room that you want to draw attention to. For example – if you want to highlight a built-in bookcase or a work of art – recessed lighting can be used to bring you into that feature.

They’re safer

With recessed lighting, you don’t have dangling light fixtures – which means you don’t have to protect the lights from dust, children and other mishaps. They stay cleaner, are less prone to fires and run less of a risk of being overrun by unexpected, curious children.

Variety

Recessed lighting comes in all sorts of colors and there are all sorts of trim and reflectors for you to choose from as well. So no matter the look you’re going for – whether it’s loud and proud or soft and subtle – you can find the kind of lighting that will help bring your vision to life.

Keep in mind that if you do want to take that step and upgrade to recessed lighting, that you’ll need an experienced electrician to help you install them. To learn more about recessed lighting and whether they’re a fit in your home, give us a call today. Until then – good luck!

Three common electrical problems that you can’t ignore


We all want to feel safe and when it comes to electricity, we want to make sure we’re doubly safe. Home is where we go to relax, recharge and enjoy the company of our families. That being said – every home will encounter some sort of issue related to it’s electrical system and when you encounter those issues – it’s important for you to be prepared.

Part of being prepared – is understanding the warning signs that something might not be right. Here are some warning signs you should be on the lookout for that might indicate that you have a problem with your electrical system. Let’s jump right in!

Flickering lights

Light fixtures don’t need much electricity to operate so when you see them frequently dimming and flickering, you might have an issue with the fixture itself. Usually- this is an indication of circuit overload – which may just be happening when a powerful appliance is sucking power off of a specific circuit. It could also be a problem related to loose connections or frayed wiring. Either way – you need to get this looked at as soon as possible!

Frequent breaker tripping

Circuit breakers serve one primary purpose – and that’s to prevent your circuits from overloading. When there’s potential overheating or too much power coming into a circuit – it shuts things down before an electrical fire starts. When these breakers are tripping frequently – could mean that your circuit is overworked and that you might need a new breaker box. That – or you’re simply using too much power in one section of your home. This is less of a malfunction issue- and more of an upgrade issue.

Noises and odors

If you can hear or smell anything around your fixture, you need to call a pro. Buzzing could mean loose prongs or frayed wiring. When you hear the buzz – shut the fixture off and don’t use it until it’s looked at. If you smell anything, you could have a much more serious issue. Burning odors coming from an outlet could be an indication of a faulty device, or worse yet – a fire. Turn your outlet off immediately and call an electrician right away. Most home fires are caused by something related to your electrical system – so make sure you do the right thing and call a service pro immediately.

If you or a loved one notices any of the above signs or if you suspect that your home may have a deeper electrical malfunction, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free consultation. Until then, keep your eye out for these problems and stay safe. Good luck!

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!