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!

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!

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.

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!

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!

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!

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.


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!

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters Can Save Your Life

What is a ground fault?

A “ground fault” is where there is an unintended connection between an electric circuit and the ground. Electricity always finds a path to the ground. In a ground fault, electricity has found a path to ground, but it is a path the electricity was never intended to be on, such as through a person’s body. Because of this, GFCI protection is used to protect human life.

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What is Electricity?

Essentially, electricity is a form of energy caused by the negative particles called electrons, found in all atoms. Under certain conditions, some of these electrons move from one atom to the next. For instance, when we connect a battery to a copper wire and then to a light bulb, the electrons move from the battery to the copper wire, then to the bulb. However, the exact electon that enters the wire is not the same as the one reaching the bulb.

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