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Here are some signs that your wiring may be out of date and why it might be time to get it replaced by a Tampa electrician.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

 

Halloween electrical safety


One of everyone’s favorite holidays is Halloween. Not only are the costumes, kids and candy a lot of fun – but man oh man, do people get into their decorations! In a time where it seems like everything is stressful – it’s the one holiday that doesn’t require us to plan extensively, cook, clean or buy expensive stuff for others. It’s all about having fun.

That being said – in our world – it’s an interesting time because it’s one of the two big holidays where people tend to use a ton of electricity and unfortunately – that can lead to some safety concerns. If you’re going all out with your Halloween decorations, we have some tips for you today that will help you stay safe this season.

Check your decorations

As you wade through boxes of plastic skeletons, hands and other boo-factor helter-skelter, be sure you check them for any issues. Not only will it put a damper on your display, but someone could get hurt or you could even cause a fire. Check the chords, the bulbs and look for any signs of wear and tear.

Test everything once before you set up

Before you lay out your grand display, we suggest that you check each of your ornaments – particularly the ones that use electricity – to make sure that they work, gage distance and the like. Reacquaint yourself with your outlets and make sure you’re not overextending yourself with the amount of electricity you’ll be using or the length of chord you’ll be using.

Check your exterior lighting

This has less to do with your display and everything to do with simply being safe. Kids get awful enthusiastic and if you’re into the season, you’ll inevitably be anticipating an entire horde of little monsters descending on your home to get their candy. Make sure their pathways are lighted and that there’s a clear, safe pathway to your door.

When you leave, lights out

While we’re all proud of our displays and the purpose of them is to simply show off and spread some happiness, it’s important that you turn them off when you’re not home. Not only will you save a boatload on your electrical bill; but even if you’ve checked all your safety boxes, unexplained fires can still occur. Turn it off when you’re out and err on the side of safety.

 

Above all else this year, have fun! Halloween is a blast! Good luck!

All about tripping your circuit breakers


We’ve all done it at one point or another – we’re busy performing some task in a particular area of our home and then all of a sudden the lights go out! Everything else is on in the house, but your area’s tapped! Congratulations, you’ve tripped a circuit breaker.

 

Your circuit breakers are safety devices that make sure that the electrical system in your house doesn’t overheat or catch fire. When you trip a breaker, you can easily turn things back on by resetting it – but it’s important to make sure you know why the breaker tripped to begin with. Chances are, it could be nothing – but it also could be something serious.

 

That’s what today’s blog is all about – what to do when you trip a breaker. Let’s jump right in!

 

What caused the breaker to trip?

 

Usually, circuit breakers trip for one of the following four reasons:

 

Circuit overload – If too many appliances are being used at once on one, single circuit, chances are they’re drawing more power than the circuit can handle. This causes the circuit to overheat and trip the breaker.

 

Short circuit – When a hot wire touches a neutral one – the current flows between the two at a fast speed – which in turn causes overheating and a tripped breaker.

 

Ground fault – Very similar to a short circuit, ground faults occur when hot wires cross-ground wires OR touches a rounded junction box. When that happens, there’s too much current, the circuit overheats and trips the breaker.

 

Faulty appliances – Sometimes a tripped breaker has nothing to do with the system and instead – is 100% due to an appliance that’s drawing too much power.

 

Why it happened

 

Most tipped breakers happen due to overloads, so it’s always important to reconsider what it was you were doing when the lights went out. Were you running an appliance? Using a vacuum cleaner? Chances are, if it was an appliance that draws a fair amount of power, than it’s a good indication as to why the breaker tripped.

 

Air conditioners and furnaces can also trip breakers, so if you weren’t using an appliance, those should be your next stops. Especially if one of them turned on right before the breaker tripped – then you might have your culprit.

 

That being said – if it’s a short circuit or a ground fault – it could be a more serious problem. Check outlets for sparks and or scorch marks and be sure to keep your nose peeled for any burning odors. Even if you aren’t seeing these signs – if you are repeatedly tripping the same breaker, then it’s best to have an electrician come out and make sure everything’s ok.

 

If your appliance is the problem, then it’s time to get it either fixed or replaced. A telltale sign the appliance might be at fault is the amount of heat it’s giving off- particularly in it’s chord. Also if it’s sparking, smells like melted plastic or is smoking – then, well – you’ve probably found your problem.

Electrical panels and circuit breakers are just like anything else – they don’t last forever and older models can fall well short of meeting the demands of today’s appliances. As such, it’s a good idea to have a pro come in every year or so and give your breaker box a look to make sure it’s working properly and make any repairs as necessary. If you need your system evaluated, give us a call and we’ll come and inspect. Good luck!

Electrical safety at work


When we think ‘electrical safety’ we mostly think of the things in and around our home. After all, those are where the things and places most important to us are located.

That being said – we tend to use the most electrical items at work, not at home. Whether it’s devices, computers, lights, you name it – the chances are you’re spending more time around electricity at work than at home and being safe there is just as important as being safe in your own dwelling.

Today, we’re going to discuss some safety tips for you to consider in the workplace and what you can do to make sure you avoid an accident at all costs. Let’s jump right in!

Be aware of your workspace

If you’re working at a desk there’s a few things to consider. First, make sure you’re not overloading outlets and always using grounded connections. Make sure you don’t have power strips connected to other power strips and the like. Make sure you’re not running over wires with your chair or that you’re not sitting next to any that might be frayed or ripped up. All of these could be potentially dangerous.

Have a workplace safety plan 

Every workplace should have (but many don’t) an electrical workplace safety plan. Check with yours to see if they have one and if they don’t – be sure to press them on it. This should include awareness of electrical hazards and how employees can be self-directed when it comes to identifying potential problem areas. It should include things like risk evaluation and how to recognize hazards. Most importantly – it should have safe work procedures, tools and if necessary – protective equipment on hand for you.

Prevention usually begins with proper planning- so make sure your workplace has one in place.

Be aware of yourself and your surroundings

This really falls under the ‘use common sense’ clause of your contract! Don’t use anything with electricity near water. Be careful of your coffee and drinks. And most important of all – don’t ignore warning signs! If something doesn’t feel right, feels excessively warm or you smell something burning – alert someone and get help immediately!

Depending on where you work, you might have potential hazards all around you. Be mindful, be conscious of what’s happening and what the potential for risk might be for a given action. Above all else – have a plan! Good luck and stay safe!

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.