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!

Tips to prevent electrical fires


While technology has come a long way over the years, it also places increased demands on our household electrical systems – which sadly haven’t kept up with all the innovation. Too many homes are lagging too far behind when it comes to what their system can handle – and the results – sometimes – can be costly. The most common consequence – and perhaps the most dangerous – is the threat of electrical fire.

 

Doing your part is important, but knowing how to do your part is the best place to start. Here are some tips to help keep your home safe from electrical fires.

 

Always go to the source

 

Your electrical outlets are some of the most important aspects of your home. But like any critical component, they can become worn and damaged over time. When that wear and tear occurs, it can be dangerous, primarily because your devices all have contact with the outlet – thus the risk for sparking increases.  If you have outlets that seem damaged, warm or spark on occasion, you need to call an electrician immediately and have them replaced.

 

 

Another thing to look out for is consistently tripping your breaker. Especially if there’s sparks involved, you could have a significant underlying electrical issue in your house. That being said – tripped breakers usually occur in the kitchen – where several heat-producing appliances are hogging up the same breaker. It could simply just be that you’re overloading your system, so you might want to try to spread out some of your appliances across multiple circuits so you avoid tripping your breaker.

 

Cut that cord

 

One of the most common mistakes we encounter in houses are people relying on extension cords and power strips. Both should be used sparingly and/or temporarily. Now – there are exceptions to this rule. Entertainment areas, computer work stations – those are places where it’s unavoidable. But you should keep up on them and when you get the first sign of disrepair, they should be replaced immediately.

 

 

If it gets hot, be careful

 

Heat-producing appliances are probably the most common causes of fire, period – not just electrical fires. And that shouldn’t come as a surprise at all. They produce heat, after all.

 

Be sure to always, always follow a manufacturer’s safety manual when it comes to things like dryers and space heaters – especially if they’re older. Always clean out your lint tray in the dryer – and always be sure to clean it once a year. Keep your space heaters away from paper, carpets and the like.

 

 

And as always, it’s a good idea to call a local pro and have them simply do an audit of your home. That way, you’ll know what things need to be upgraded, where potential dangers might exist and also what you can do to make sure your home is safer. Good luck!