Teaching your kids about electricity


Children are curious creatures. After all, that’s what growing up is all about. The unknown holds many secrets for children’s need for experimenting is often how they process information the best.

The problem comes from the fact that most kids have a hard time recognizing and distinguishing between what’s harmless and what’s dangerous. And when it comes to electrical safety, there’s a lot they need to know and in many cases don’t. That’s what we’re here to talk about today – and that’s how you communicate with your kids about electrical safety.

Start early

As soon as your child is mature enough to understand, it’s a good idea to start teaching safety. Kids are very impressionable, especially early on in life, so starting young and teaching them what they can and cannot touch will help engrain that behavior inside them for the rest of their life.

Repeat yourself often

Ever hear that phrase ‘in one ear and out the other?’ That can be kids, sometimes. They are learning and growing at such a high rate that it’s hard for information to truly sink in sometimes. Because of this, you’ll need to repeat instructions, lessons and the like. Don’t make talking about electrical safety a one-time thing.

Communicate openly 

With kids, it’s always good to have more of a discussion than a lesson. Openly communicating with your child makes the conversation more interesting to them and as a result, they’re more likely to retain the information. They’ll be curious and maybe even excited if you go about explaining things the right way. And don’t be alarmed when they ask a ton of questions – that’s a GOOD thing!

Visual aids are a must

You don’t need to make full-blown demonstrations, but point to things and objects. Take them out and if they’re safe – let children handle them. The more your child knows and thinks about appliances, outlets and wires, the less likely it is that they will fall victim to an electrical accident.

When it comes to safety in general, nothing is more important than the health and well being of our kids. Take the time, explain things to them carefully and let them process it all. You’ll be surprised with just how quickly they take to things!

What to do when the lights go out


Nothing feels worse than when the power goes out. Dealing with it can be both annoying and obnoxious – but the most important thing to do is learn how to stay safe. This month’s post will discuss some of the things you need to be mindful of when the power goes out. Let’s jump right in!

Know a reliable source of information

When the lights are off, you’re going to need to know the who, what, where, when, why and how of the outage. How long will it last? How many people are effected? Who’s going to be in charge of fixing the grid issue – etc. Once you’ve got an idea of what’s going on, it will give you a good idea as to how to respond from there on out.

Turn off all your appliances

One thing you want to make sure you do when there’s a power outage is to shut down your power supply altogether. While there isn’t a better feeling in the world than when your power comes back on – the initial surge can be very dangerous to your appliances and could possibly damage them. If your appliances are older or not in the best of shape, they could even become fire hazards. Trust us – you’ll know when the power is back on – just play it safe. Head down to the basement and flip your main breaker just in case.

Be mindful of the temperature

When your power goes out, you’ll lose your HVAC. As such – if it’s hot out, you won’t have AC and if it’s cold out, you won’t have heat. Especially in situations where it’s chilly out, we recommend bundling up and wearing an extra layer of clothing. If it’s hot out, be sure to drink plenty of (safe) drinking water and try to find ways to stay cool.

Always be prepared

The best thing you can do when the power goes out is to prepare before it goes out. That means having fresh batteries handy, some bottled water, flashlights that are in good, working order and canned food just in case. Also be sure to have a first aid kit handy. It also doesn’t hurt to have a generator, which in spite of the early up front investment – can be a big relief during periods where the power is out for a lengthy period of time.

 

What surge protectors actually do


Poll a random person on what a surge protector does and your answers will likely be limited to ‘enables me to plug in a lot of stuff’ and ‘saves my important electronics from getting fried’.

While those things are important and surge protectors are absolutely used for those two things – its important to have a full understanding of not only their capabilities, but also what happens when they go to work.

Today’s blog – is about exactly that. Let’s jump right in!

Transient voltage

Transient voltage usually happens due to a lightning strike or some sort of malfunction in your electronics around the exterior of your home, but it also happens inside your home as well. In fact, it happens more than you think.

Ever notice when an air conditioner comes on and you lights dim and flicker? Or when you use a hair dryer or a microwave? This happens because these appliances use so much energy that it creates a tiny surge whenever it activates. Over time, these repeated surges adversely impact the lifespan of other sensitive electronic devices plugged in throughout the rest of your home. So not only do surge protectors protect against external threats, but they help protect against internal threats as well.

Diversions 

The average American home has voltage that’s set to flow at about 120 volts. When power surges happen, the voltage limit is exceeded and some sort of damage takes place. How bad the damage is usually depends on the length and intensity of the surge, itself.

Surge protectors limit this damage by diverting excess voltage into your home’s grounding line. So for example, if you’re looking at a three-pronged plug, it’s the round prong on the bottom that connects into your home’s grounding line and protects both you and your electronics from excessive electronic shock.

Metal Oxide Varistor or MOV’s

What the heck is that you might be asking. Most surge protectors get help from something called an MOV. Basically, the MOV serves as a go-between for the protector’s hot wire and its grounding wire.

What MOV’s do is make adjustments to incoming voltage that’s either too low or too high. When it’s too high, the MOV redirects the excess voltage and evens out the electricity. When it’s too low, it kicks things up a notch. Think of it as the bouncer of your surge protector. It makes sure everyone’s safe, everyone’s having a good time and that nothing gets out of control. 

Surge protectors are a vital part of your home’s ability to function – and it’s not JUST because they protect you from surges. They extend the lifespan of your devices, help control the flow of electricity to and from your devices and protects you from both internal and external threats to your electrical system.

For more information on how you can keep your home safer or how a layered surge protection system such as a whole-home surge protector – give us a call today!

Why do my bulbs keep blowing?


Ask any electrician on earth – and they’ll tell you that one of the most common complaints they receive from customers is that their light bulbs burn out or blow out much faster than they expected; and of course – it’s always at the worst time.
Here are some reasons your light bulbs might be blowing and what you can do about it.

Your bulbs are cheap

Hey, we’re not calling you a cheapskate because everyone’s looking for a deal – but cheap bulbs – like every other thing that is cheap – are cheap for a reason. They have poor filaments and they’re made from bad materials. That’s how they keep costs low. It’s just like cheap batteries and cheap steno paper. They work up to a point and fail. For a few extra cents, you’ll experience fewer blowouts.

Ceiling fans going kablooey

Ceiling fan bulbs blow out faster than most other bulbs – and there are two primary reasons for that. First, the vibration and motion from the fan damages the filament in the bulb – which reduces lifespan. Second, the heat from the bulb usually has a hard time escaping the fan because the glass enclosure is so small. So that means the bulb will heat up and die.

Halogen, huh? 

Just like ceiling fan bulbs, halogen bulbs don’t do well with heat. The problem is – they, themselves get really hot, really quick. If the bulbs haven’t been installed correctly – or there’s material like a pest next or roofing materials covering the fitting – the bulbs will likely blow faster.

Incandescent bulbs blowing out

Simply put, these blow out faster than the new, more modern LED bulbs. We’d love to sugar coat it – but really there’s no reason to not switch over entirely to LED’s. Just ditch these bulbs.

LED isn’t working, either

LED’s are designed to last a long time. If they’re blowing, you either bought cheap LED bulbs or they weren’t fitted properly which means they’re overheating.

Of course, if you’ve tried to replace blown bulbs with quality new light bulbs then we recommend calling a pro, as the problem is likely deeper. It could be a problem wit the fitting, wiring, power supply, overloads and the like. So if your bulbs won’t work, simply call your electrician.

Electrical safety for the elderly


Nowadays people live longer than they ever have before. And because they live longer than they ever have before – they’re living in their house longer than ever before. As we get older, so does our home and as that happens – safety concerns can arise. Unfortunately, with power demands changing so dramatically over the years, it’s a house’s electrical system that can present a substantial risk to the occupant’s safety.

So you or your parents are getting older. So is your house. What are some things you can do to make the home less prone to electrical issues? That’s what we’re here for today. Here are some tips to help keep you and your loved ones safe.

Always check the switchboard

All electrical safety starts with your switchboard. Making sure it’s in good repair and working condition is important – but more importantly – whether it can handle tomorrow’s workload as well as today’s.

When you or your parents decide ‘yeah, this is the rest of my life home’ – then one of the first things you should do is prepare the home to be that. And one of the first places you should start is your switchboard. Updating it early can save a big headache and the cost isn’t that significant. Even if you don’t get years of use out of it, it’ll stay with the home and make it a more viable asset. Not to be dark like that, but these are things to consider.

Lighting enhancements

As we age, our eyesight tends to fail us and a way that it tends to do that is with regards to light. Poor lighting can lead to trips and falls and again – that’s not good for us.

An extremely affordable way to increase the safety of a house is to simply make sure that there’s adequeate lighting throughout the house – especially in pathways within the house where people will be walking. There are a few places you’ll really want to pay attention to in addition to pathways, including:

-Above cooktops, sinks and main food preparation areas
-Lighting along stairs, hallways and bathrooms

-Touch lamps in hang-out quarters and near seating areas and bedrooms

-Consider glow in the dark switch covers

-Swap out halogen lights for LED lights to reduce the risk of fire

Motion sensors aren’t a bad idea, either – although this can get a little annoying if your parents have pets and other movers and shakers who roam the premesis late at night. Either way – there are a ton of purpose-built products on the market that are cheap and can make life a lot easier – and safer. Take the time to check them out.

Exterior light

This is a big one. Going entirely motion activated with your lighting is the way to go for sure. It simply makes it a lot easier for the resident to move around outside in the night time.

The other thing you really want to make sure you do is install a light around or even inside the unit that displays the house’s number. That way in the event of an emergency – responders can find the house a lot easier.

It’s important to take care of our loved ones as they grow older. Follow some of these tips and you’ll not only be keeping them safer, but you’ll significantly increase their overall quality of life.

Circuit Breakers 101


Circuit breakers are an essential safety component in your home. At bare minimum, they help prevent issues like fires and prevent injury. But what do it do, exactly and how does it work? Most of us only really know that there’s something about fuses, circuit breaker, something, something. The only real trips you make to the breaker is when there’s some sort of overload or short circuit.

But let’s put an end to that, today. Here’s most of what you need to know about your circuit breakers.

Here’s how it works

Your circuit breaker is really more of an electrical service panel. It has several lever-operated breakers that not only control the circuits, but protect them as well. If a specific amperpage loads into that particular circuit – It’ll ‘trip’ or shut itself off – protecting you and your loved ones from fire and a myriad of other safety issues. When it’s open – it keeps the circuit open to a normal electrical current – with each one being responsible for a certain area of your facility or home.

Why they trip

Overloaded circuits where excessive demands are placed on your system (think a dueling mother/daughter hair blower battle in separate bathrooms at the same time).

Shot circuits – which are mostly wiring issues with certain appliances that pulls too much current.

Ground faults – mostly occur in high moisture areas like kitchens and bathrooms and are the reason that GFCI’s are required by electrical codes.

Where are they located?

Breakers are most often found in your home’s ‘breaker box.’ You’ll usually find them in basements, garages, utility rooms and the like. If you can’t make yours out, simply find your electrical meter outside and follow the connectivity.

Resetting breakers

If you lose power in a particular area of your home, it’s likely because the breaker was tripped. Resetting that breaker is easy. Grab yourself a flashlight and head on down to your breaker box. Look for the area of your home where the lights went out on the label of your breakers. If you don’t have labels, look for the breaker that is positioned in the MIDDLE. A breaker that is off will point AWAY from the panel center. One that is on – will point towards it. Simply take the breaker switch and turn it OFF first, then flip it all the way back to ON and you should be good to go.

If not, and the circuit trips again, then turn the breaker back off without resetting it, close the panel door and call a pro to come check it out. 99/100 cases however, you won’t have to do this.

What to do about a trippy box? 

Some boxes constantly trip. The reasons for these are numerous, but the two most common ones being that it simply isn’t designed to maintain the capacity and stress that your lifestyle is putting on the board. The second is that the board could simply be damaged. Both should be calls you make to an electrician.

And above all else – if you notice charred breakers or something smells like it’s burning. Turn those breakers of immediately and seek a professional. DO NOT mess around with your own personal safety.

When the lights go out


Power outages are the worst. In fact, think of a more sinking feeling than the one you get in those first few seconds once the power goes out and everything goes quiet. There’s almost nothing worse. Once you’re over the initial ‘ugh’ factor, you immediately flip into the ‘what to do’ mode. How do you respond, what is the problem? Where is it? Is it just my home or somewhere else?

That’s what we’re here to discuss today. Here’s what to do during a power outage:

Reconcile that it’s mostly out of your control

You can’t really prepare for a power outage. Almost all of them happen out of nowhere. They usually come during a storm or with some issue that has to do with whomever supplies your power. Sometimes it’s even something as simple as a car accident that impacts an entire power grid. Whatever it is – you’re probably not going to be overly prepared.

Try to get some information

The great thing about cell phones is they give you access to all sorts of information. So take yours, and look up your local power supplier. They usually get updates and reports from customers almost immediately and you’ll be able to see what’s effected and where the outage has spread to. Usually within a set period of time they’ll have even identified a cause and will supply you with a general window of when you can expect the power to go back on. And by all means – report your outage to your local supplier!

Turn off all appliances

Especially if your outage is caused by a storm, you’ll want to unplug your appliances immediately. The initial power surge from the power coming back on can damage them and in some cases – prevent them from working altogether. This is especially important in the event that you experience an outage where your lights flicker before going dark.

Say ‘no’ to water

Avoid puddles, pools and any and all incidents of standing water. Downed and exposed lines are always exposed during these periods and can cause a great deal of trouble and prevent a serious safety risk. Stay away. And be sure to stay out of your shower!

Be mindful of the temperature

If your power goes out, so will your air conditioners and heating systems. If it’s cold outside, then it’s time to bundle up. If it’s hot and humid out, be sure to keep a spare case of bottled water hanging around. That water is safe and clean and will help you keep cool while the A/C is down.

Also bear in mind that there are plenty of tools like generators out there that can help you overcome these issues. Feel free to shoot us a call if you’d like to find out about these sorts of products and we’ll also help give you some advice on some other household things you should probably have handy. And most importantly – if it’s just your house going out – we can help get the lights back on. Give us a call to learn more!

Some new years resolutions on electrical safety


2018 is coming in hot and with that, it’s time to make some New Year’s Resolutions for the coming year. While everyone’s got the usual, standard fare resolutions – like losing weight, quitting smoking, visiting Fiji or what have you; we’re going to take care of one you should be thinking about – how you’ll keep your home safer!

Here are five resolutions you can make right now to keep your home safe from electrical hazards in 2018!

I promise I will check my smoke alarms once a month

You do plenty of things every month – you pay your bills, go get your haircut, go out on a date with the spouse – and you do them because they’re essential. But could any of those things save your life?

Whether it’s from electricity or anything else, smoke alarms can save your life. It takes less than a minute to test and check you detectors each month. You can check them on the way out to work, on your way through the door when you get home… heck, you can even check them on your way to get a bowl of Doritios. It takes a minute, and it could save your life!

You will stop overloading your sockets

Adaptors make it easy to plug many things into one outlet, but just because you have the ability to plug things in doesn’t mean that it’s actually safe to do so. Remember to use on extender per socket and no more! Get additional sockets installed if you really need them. In some cases – it might not even cost you as much as all those overpriced extension chords you’re buying!

You’ll register your appliances

When you think of all the electrical appliances and things you have in your house, the number climbs quickly. Just imagine ONE of them being recalled due to a dangerous malfunction or faulty component. You could potentially have a ticking time bomb in your house.

While yes, registering your products can lead to a little more junk mail and a few annoying solicitations – it also makes it easier for a company to contact you if something is wrong with their product. Chargers, adaptors, hair care appliances, irons, toasters – they all get recalled more than you think. Send in the little card and it could save your life.

I will not buy cheap phone chargers

Something around the range of 98% of budget car chargers have a serious fault or defect. Leave that sucker plugged in over night and it could hurt your car, your socket, your home, your computer, your phone…. or you. They’re made cheaply, usually in China and aren’t really inspected all that well. They’re dangerous and the fastest growing cause of electrical fires in the home.

So for that relevant resolution? It’s staying away from these cheap phone chargers.

Check in with your older relatives, friends and neighbors more often

Electrical accidents happen the most to older, more vulnerable people. Statistics show over a million people over 75 live in homes that aren’t properly heated, in disrepair and don’t have modern facilities and appliances. The overwhelming number or those aren’t up to safety standards.

Check in on the older folks who are important in your life. Checking their appliances is part of a checklist we’d like you to tackle, but more importantly – just spend time with them. It’s the right thing to do, it’s rewarding and you can learn a lot. But most importantly, we can help keep them a little safer. A little sentimental for us on a level, but it’s a good note to end the year on.

Have a happy new year, folks – and here’s to a super safe 2018!

Electrical safety for the holiday season


It’s holiday time again and if you’re one of our friends who go all out to celebrate, it’s time to break out those decorations. But those decorations can come with some risk – especially to your electrical system.

Here are some trips to have a happier, healthier, safer Christmas season. Let’s jump right in!

Inspect all your electrical decorations for damage before use

Whenever you’re going to use anything electricity-related, be sure to inspect it. Look for things like loose and bare wires, damaged light sockets, or any kind of connections that could potentially cause a significant shock or fire.

It’s not a bad idea to also make sure that you follow manufacturer’s guides. And trust us, we know manuals are a bummer – especially with most of you guys wanting to be ultra creative in your displays, but in all honesty, decorations are designed to be used in a specific way and when you step outside of that space, you’re putting you, your family and home at risk.

Do not decorate near power lines

At all. Stay as far away as possible; don’t decorate near them, around them – any of that. This should be self-explanatory, but to some, it’s not.

Never connect more than three strings of lights 

While you CAN get away with it on the outside of the house depending on the power source; going more than three strands is a huge no-no if it’s inside the house. Not only can these lights trip circuit breakers, but also they can cause fires quickly. We recommend purchasing LED lights purely from the standpoint that they use a lot less energy and run cooler than their incandescent cousins.

When you go to bed, turn it all off

Most electrical issues and fires come overnight when the homeowner isn’t paying attention. Flat-out, there’s no reason to have them on when you’re sleeping. No one’s looking at them, admiring them or any of that. Turn everything off before you go to bed.

Keep your trees well watered

Believe it or not, most tree fires start and get worse because a spark hits a dry tree and it goes up quickly. You should be consistently watering the tree to keep it healthy. Also – make sure when you’re buying your tree that you’re checking for freshness. Fresh trees stay healthy longer and will present less of an electrical hazard than an older one will. In addition, try to avoid electric ornaments outside of the usual fare of lights and a star/angel.

The holiday season is the best – but it’s better when it’s safe. Enjoy your family, friends and make this holiday season the best ever!

Electrical Safety Prep for the winter


As the fall weather begins to transition into the cold weather of winter, it’s time to start tidying up and getting prepared for the winter. This month, we’re going to let you know the things you need to keep in mind on the electrical front – to make the transition as smooth and safe as possible.

Let’s jump right in!

Store your tools appropriately

It’s time to shelve those mowers and trimmers and check the cold weather ones. As such – it’s a good time to check spark plugs, power chords and the like. Especially if you’re in a place where snow blowers are a way of life, be sure you check the starters, undergo a dry run and have spaces clear where you can start up your blower safely and without worry. Also be sure to replace any parts you have.

Weather proofing is a must

Make sure you’re using weatherproof electrical devices for outside activities and keep all your devices away from moisture. Make sure that any equipment that has been wet gets inspected and reconditioned by a dealer if need be.

Leaves 

Yeah, we hate them, too – but they need to be cleaned up thoroughly. Especially if you have outdoor outlets and electrical fixtures – make sure you clean the areas and spaces around them thoroughly. It only takes one errant spark for things to go wrong.

Check your heat-generating devices

Especially if you have things like space heaters and electric blankets – give them a test run to make sure they’re in working order. And as is the case with any electric blanket or heating pad – do not fall asleep with them on or tuck them into your sheets! And as always, be conscious of pets and small children. Do another walk through of your house to make sure unused outlets are covered and protected from these noble explorers.

Getting ready for the cold stuff is important and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Fire hazards have a way of being doubly devastating in the winter – and more costly to fix. If you want a safety walk through, simply call in a pro and have them do it. The small cost for doing so far outweighs the potential for catastrophic damage or injury.