Most electrical safety hazards can be prevented with common sense and plain, old good wiring.
For most people, preventing an electrical accident means not plugging too many things into one feeble extension cord (which they do anyway) or not using a hair dryer while taking a bath (hopefully they don’t do this). And while these are valid and important precautions, there are many other potential electrical safety hazards in any home. Taking a look at some of the most common causes of electrical accidents can help you appreciate the considerable power (and danger) of electricity and how to use it safely.
Cords and Plugs
According to the National Fire Protection Association (www.nfpa.org), electrical cords and plugs are responsible for the most civilian deaths related to electrical accidents each year. Yet these are among the easiest hazards to avoid: Never use a cord or plug with evidence of burning, melting or any other visible damage. If the insulation is damaged or missing, or the cord has come loose from the plug, replace the whole thing; never use a cord repaired with electrical tape.
Extension cords (including power strips and surge protectors) are the biggest offenders in the cord category. Don’t use extension cords for permanent hookups, conceal them in any way (especially under carpeting) or expose them to water or possible damage. Always use the right cord for the job, such as 3-prong grounded cords for all appliances and tools that require grounding. Also make sure the cord’s capacity well exceeds the demand of what’s plugged into it; heavier-gauge cords can handle more current than lighter-gauge cords. Avoid using 3-prong adapters to plug grounded cords into 2-prong outlets (while theoretically possible, the chances of a true ground existing here are extremely slight).
Fixtures and Appliances
Misuse of lamps and light fixtures is another top cause of electrical accidents. As harmless as it seems, using a 100-watt bulb in a 60-watt fixture (for example), can melt the fixture wires, creating a shock and fire hazard. The same danger exists when plugging a cord into an adapter outlet that screws into a light bulb socket. As for appliances, don’t use any device that sparks, smokes, buzzes, emits a burning smell or shows any cord damage. Unplug appliances before cleaning them. Never operate an appliance or equipment while standing in water.
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A power failure in your house or apartment is a major inconvenience — that’s one thing that every homeowner will agree on. However, the reason behind the outage is not so clear-cut. You may be left without electricity due to a number of different factors. Here’s how to troubleshoot an electrical Power outage, together with suggested solutions.
If the Power Outage Affects Your Neighbors Also
Investigate to see whether the outage is limited to just a part of your home. If you are working in the kitchen, for example, try clicking on a light switch in the living room. If the electricity is not functional anywhere in your house, look outside. See whether lights are visible at your neighbors’ or phone them to ask if they have power. In an apartment building, look to see whether the lights are on in the hallway. When the outage affects more than just your home, call your local utility company to report the problem and see if they can give you an estimate of how long it will take to repair. Turn off light switches and unplug electrical devices to protect them from power surge damage when the service is restored.
If the Problem is Limited to Your Home
When the problem is limited to your home — or only one part of your home — grab a flashlight if necessary and take a look at the GFCI receptacle, circuit breaker, main breaker, or fuse box to troubleshoot the electrical failure. On a GFCI outlet, try pushing the reset button. Otherwise, see whether a breaker has tripped or a fuse has blown.
When the Main Breaker Trips or Branch Breakers Can’t Be Reset
Turn off or unplug as many appliances and electronic devices as possible throughout your home. Go back to the circuit breaker and flip all the breakers off. Turn the main breaker switch on and off several times, finishing in the “on” position. Then reset each of the breakers, one at a time. If this causes the main breaker to trip or if you are unable to reset one of the branch breakers, you’ll know that you have a problem with that circuit, which will need electrical repair.
Read more about power outage troubleshooting at networx.com
Consider Whole House Surge Protection for all your Appliances
In the twenty first century, the age of technology, most households have a number of high tech electrical devices, from fridges to computers to telephones.
An electrical surge (or a spike in voltage) can cause significant damage to you appliances. Leaving you with the expense and inconvenience of having to get them repaired.
Devices like fridges and televisions which are constantly turned off and on can trigger an energy surge, because of the voltage fluctuation
So to protect your home and electrical appliances you might want to consider surge protection.
So how does surge protection actually work?
For protecting individual appliances, you can attach a surge protector (or suppressor), which controls the level of voltage being supplied to the appliance. When voltage goes past a certain safety threshold, as it would during a spike, the surge suppressor either blocks the unwanted voltage or shorts it to the ground. When deciding which items to add surge protection to you should consider, the age of the device and the cost of repairing it in comparison to the cost of protecting it. This way you can work out the most cost efficient option. Some modern devices also have surge protection, so you should always check this before you fork over extra cash.
You can also get whole house surge protection, which as the name suggests will protect all of your appliances from voltage spikes. This works by fitting surge protection devices (SPDs) at the three point which electricity enters your home; your communication systems (telephone line), cable and electrical service panel. Rather than preventing electrical surges affecting individual appliances, this prevents any surges entering your home in the first place. It protects against lightning and utility surges, as well as everyday spikes.
The price of whole house surge protection will depend on the number of electrical panels, telephone lines and cable and/or satellite connections you have. It will also depend on the how much voltage the device will let through, as there are various voltage clamping levels. The lower this level is, the better protection it will provide as it will let through less of an electrical surge. Naturally lower voltage clamping level devices will be slightly more expensive, but it may prove a better investment in the long run. The lowest voltage clamping levels are 330V, 400V and 500V. 330V is the standard level.
Joules rating is also important. This indicates how much energy a surge protector can in theory absorb in a single event/surge. A lot of people think the more joules the better, but this is not necessarily the case; a lower joules rating may provide a longer life expectancy since device can divert more energy away, therefore absorbing less energy itself. This means theoretically at least it should be able to last longer.
Surge protection can also be important for safety reasons. Electrical surges can sometimes start electrical fires in your house. So to ensure you family’s safety it is advisable to get whole house surge protection, to prevent this.
Surge Protection is an easy and inexpensive way to protect your home and your electrical appliances that will hopefully save you money in the future. If you would like to know more about whole house surge protection, then contact your local certified electrician who can provide you with the information that you need.
Preventive electrical maintenance is vital for a business or residence. Lack of or neglecting electrical maintenance is often directly related to failures that can cause unwanted downtime or even cause serious injury or death. The trouble is that most homeowners often overlook or bypass the regular or routine preventive maintenance procedures and techniques that can reduce these unwanted outcomes.
Justification for preventive electrical maintenance programs
Electrical systems and electrical equipment deterioration is normal, and failure is inevitable over time. Breakdown from deterioration is typically a slow process, but severe conditions; overloading , circuits and devices; and too much intermittent operation can all accelerate the deterioration process. Nevertheless, an effective preventive maintenance program can postpone failure. Often, it is challenging to develop and maintain a reasonable budget for maintaining electrical devices and systems. If everything is working, there is no problem. The whole idea behind a preventive maintenance program is to protect against expected breakdowns. This is executed through routinely servicing equipment, recognizing replacement intervals and scheduling outages to carry out the replacements.
Scheduled investment in preventive maintenance procedures and strategies pays dividends in the long run. However, many people don’t see it that way and choose to run their electrical system and devices to the point of failure, at which time, the cost can be extreme.
There are two main benefits from implementing effective preventive maintenance in a home: (1) the direct benefits of preventive electrical maintenance programs in the reduced expenses of repairs and reduced or eliminated downtime and (2) safety for your family and property. The first item is far easier to measure than the second, as it is hard to forecast how a breakdown in electrical equipment may cause injury or death, but it can happen. An effective preventive maintenance program provides various control responsibilities that will help keep repair and replacement expenses lower and offer safety for you and your family.
Maintenance of your electric panel is necessary to ensure that your electric system is working smoothly and efficiently.
Maintaining the electrical system in a home is a crucial part of home ownership that may sound difficult and time consuming to many people. However, it is not as difficult as one may think. The electric panel is the heartbeat of a home’s entire system. They control every circuit that runs through the house, supply the power to each outlet, and are often responsible for running important components of the home, such as air conditioners and hot water heaters. Because of this, it is important to prevent damage to your system to ensure they work properly.
As a homeowner, there are preventative measures you can take that go a long way in assisting electricians that may come to work on your system. The first is to keep all doors and box covers closed at all times to prevent water damage, as many of us know that water and electricity do not mix well. Also, routinely wipe the outside of the door during household cleanings. This protects the system from dust. If dust enters the components of the electric panel, this can cause the system to overheat. If it becomes hot enough, it may cut off, leaving you without power until it cools down enough to be turned back on. Overheating may also damage other components, causing malfunctions in anything from a power outlet to a ceiling fan. Lastly, if there are instruction manuals, diagrams, or any other types of information on your system, do not throw it away. Tuck it away somewhere for safekeeping, as this information could be valuable and beneficial to any electricians who may be called to repair parts or perform maintenance on the system.
Also, pay attention to how electrical appliances, lights, the AC, or any other items that run off of electricity are functioning. This helps allow for early detection of any part of the electrical system that may be malfunctioning to be repaired. If a problem is not caught and handled accordingly, you may be left replacing the entire panel. If you believe that something is wrong with your system, do not hesitate to call an electrician to come check it. Time is of the essence when dealing with an electrical problem, and it must be addressed in order to keep you and your family comfortable and safe. Do not try to perform the maintenance or repairs yourself, as this could be highly dangerous and should only be done by a licensed and experienced professional. Many electricians offer timely and cost-efficient services, guaranteeing when they will show up (which is often the very next day), complete the necessary work, and, most importantly, your satisfaction. Also, their workmanship is usually covered under some type of warranty.
The daily operation of your electric panel does not need to be something you lose sleep over at night. There are many more things in your life for you to stress over. With the help of your electrician for maintenance and repairs and your preventative measures, you and your family will be able to enjoy all of the comforts that electricity has to offer.
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Electrical shock is very serious. It can make your entire skeleton glow in a brilliant flash of light, after which you slump to the floor with your hair smoking. Or maybe that’s just in the cartoons. In the real world, a good zap is a lot less cool, although it is theoretically possible for your hair to smoke. So what’s the best way to prevent a life-threatening jolt? Calling an electrician, of course for any electrical repairs . If you don’t like that plan, at least do whatever you can to avoid the following no-nos, and understand that this is NOT a complete list.
6 Electrical Repairs Tips to avoid to do yourself
1. Mess with the service lugs in a breaker box
First of all, if you don’t know what service lugs are, you shouldn’t be doing anything in your breaker box (service panel) except resetting tripped breakers, if that. If you happen to know that the lugs are the big screw terminals or posts securing the service cables, you should also know that they’re always hot (energized), even after you shut off the main breakers. Obviously, you should stay well away from the cigar-size cables connected to the lugs, too. Definitely not a good smoke.
2. Work on the weatherhead
This is another one for the “don’t even think of it” category. The weatherhead, also called the service mast or periscope, is the metal pole or other structure that connects the electrical service lines leading from the utility power pole to your house. Since this is part of your house, you might be tempted to upright the pole if it’s leaning or tighten a bolt here and there. Can the thought of 200 amps coursing through your body convince you otherwise?
3. Do any wiring with the power on
If you’re a reader of builders’ magazines, you’ve certainly seen photos of someone doing something dangerous without the recommended protective gear, along with the caption: “Don’t do what this guy’s doing.” (And more often than not, the “guy” happens to be the author.) The point is, just because electricians sometimes work with hot wires doesn’t mean it’s safe for you to do it. It’s not safe for them, either.
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A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) can help avoid electrocution. If an individual’s body begins to get a shock, the GFCI senses this and cuts off the power before he/she can get injured.
GFCIs are usually installed where electrical circuits might accidentally come into contact with water. They are frequently found in kitchens, bath and laundry rooms, and even out-of-doors or in the garage where electrical power tools might be utilized.
Exactly what is a ground fault?
According to the National Electrical Code, a “ground fault” is a conducting connection (whether intentional or unexpected) in between any electric conductor and any carrying out product that is grounded or that may end up being grounded. Electricity always wants to find a course to the ground. In a ground fault, electricity has found a path to ground, however it is a course the electricity was never planned to be on, such as through a person’s body.
Because of this capacity for shock, GFCI protection is used to secure human life.
How do Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters work?
The ground fault circuit interrupters will “sense” the difference in the amount of electricity flowing into the circuit to that flowing out, even in amounts of current as small as 4 or 5 milliamps. The GFCI reacts quickly (less than one-tenth of a second) to trip or turned off the circuit.
Exactly what are the kinds of GFCIs?
There are 3 types of GFCIs. The most typically utilized “receptacle-type” GFCI, just like a typical wall outlet, is the type with which most customers recognize. Additionally, breaker GFCIs are often utilized as replacements for basic circuit breakers and provide GFCI security to all receptacles on that individual circuit. Temporary or portable GFCIs are frequently utilized in building and in outdoor settings with electrical tools, lawn mowers, trimmers, and comparable gadgets. They ought to not be utilized as a permanent option to a routine GFCI. Short-lived ground fault circuit interrupters ought to be checked prior to every usage.
How should GFCIs be checked?
Many consumers don’t inspect their GFCIs to verify they are working. GFCIs are electronic devices that can be damaged or wear out. The electrical receptacle in a GFCI might continue to work, even if the GFCI circuit no longer works. If this is the case, have a certified electrician change it as quickly as possible.
Ground fault circuit interrupters ought to be checked regular monthly to ensure they are in working condition. Whether you have a receptacle or breaker GFCI, pressing the TEST button should turn off the power to the circuit. For the receptacle-type GFCI, pushing the TEST button ought to trigger the RESET button to turn on. (Remember to push the RESET button to re-establish power and protection.) For the circuit breaker-type GFCI, pushing the TEST button ought to cause it to relocate to the tripped position. (Remember to reset it to re-establish power and protection.).
When should you check GFCIs?
GFCIs must be inspected month-to-month to figure out if they are running appropriately. A portable GFCI needs to be utilized out-of-doors with various electrical power tools (i.e., drills, lawn mowers, trimmers) and ought to be tested prior to each usage!
Where should GFCIs be used?
It is suggested that GFCIs be installed in areas where appliances and power tools are utilized in close proximity to water. Faucet water or wet things have the ability to carry electricity extremely easily and can link your body to a ground potential, hence increasing your opportunities of getting a shock from a ground fault. Appliances that have integrated GFCI defense, as now needed for hair dryers, may not require additional GFCI defense, however there are still many appliances not equipped with GFCI security.
What is nuisance tripping of a GFCI?
It takes just 5 mA (0.005 A) of present leak from the hot wire to the ground to trigger a GFCI to travel. A percentage of leak current may be difficult to avoid in some regular circuits. Hand-held power tools do not cause a tripping problem if the tool is kept in good condition. Some stationary motors, such as a bathroom vent fan or fluorescent lighting fixtures, might produce enough leak to trigger problem tripping. Another problem might be a long circuit with many splices. If possible, keep GFCI circuits less than 100 feet long. To avoid problem tripping, a GFCI must not provide:.
- Circuits longer than 100 feet.
- Fluorescent or other types of electric-discharge lighting components.
- Completely set up electric motors.
Electricity is one of the leading causes of house fires in the United States. This is pointed out by the National Fire Protection Association, the same agency that writes the National Electrical Code (NEC), which all electricians are supposed to abide by. Every aspect of the NEC has been developed based on accidents and casualties and is designed to prevent them.
Furthermore, all electrical components used today must have a UL (Underwriters Laboratories) listing on it before it can be sold in the United States. All insurance companies abide by the UL listing, and anything done to void this listing can also void insurance coverage. Additionally, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires all professional electricians to be licensed and all electrical work to be inspected by a local electrical inspector.
Many times, homeowners and handymen tackle small jobs such as changing outlets or installing lights – seemingly easy, trivial projects. However, all too often, the end result is that they put in a grounded (three-prong) outlet where there is no code-compliant grounding. They hang lights without a junction box or put them in a closet where they are subject to damage. They put outlets near water that are not GFCI protected outlets, or worse, they extend a circuit using wire that is too small and is bound to heat up and fail.
Electricity is power moving from one point to another and back again. It will always take the path of least resistance and does not care who it hurts or how.
Over time, I have seen many strange and dangerous situations. The following is a list of things I commonly see done by homeowners and others that lead to shock hazards, UL listing violations and worse:
• Installing grounded outlets where there is no grounding. BX wiring used in older homes is not a listed and acceptable grounding method, but many people assume it is.
• Installing a breaker in a panel that is not listed for that panel or putting a “mini” breaker in a place not designed for it. It may work, but if there is a problem it will void the listing and the insurance company won’t cover any damages. As a rule, all single family homes should have a minimum of a 200 amp service and breakers. Older homes usually have a smaller panel and should be upgraded.
Read more on electrical safety in your home at AngiesList.com
Old wiring—even knob and tube wiring that dates back to the early 20th century—isn’t inherently dangerous, but unless you were around when the house was built, you can’t be sure the electrical system is up to code. Plus, materials such as wire insulation can deteriorate over time.
Safety issues with old wiring
Faulty wiring is the leading cause of residential fires, according to a 2009 study by the National Fire Prevention Association. And the older your house is, the greater the chances that old wiring might be outdated or unsafe.
If you don’t know the condition of your wiring, it’s worth paying a licensed electrician to inspect your electrical system. Expect to pay $150 to $300 for this service.
A good reason to consider replacing old wiring, aside from electrical home safety, is that some insurance carriers may refuse to insure houses with older electrical systems, or they may insist owners pay higher premiums.
Warning signs of outdated, old wiring
- Breakers trip or fuses blow regularly.
- A tingling sensation when you touch a wall switch, appliance, or receptacle.
- Dimming and flickering lights.
- A burning smell in a particular room or from an appliance.
- Discolored outlets and switch plates that are warm to the touch.
- Ungrounded outlets throughout the house (ungrounded outlets accommodate only two-prong plugs).
- A lack of ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets in your bathrooms, your kitchen, and other areas that may be exposed to damp and wet conditions.
- Your house was built more than 40 years ago.
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If you have a house with old wiring or other electrical issues, like a panel upgrade, flickering lights, faulty circuit breakers or any electrical repair or installation such as lights, ceiling fans or whole house surge protection call Rudolph Electric, your San Diego CA Electrician today.
Don’t Ignore Flickering Lights
Household lights that flicker and even dim periodically can be normal if not annoying, but they can also be dangerous, which is why flickering lights should never be ignored. In most cases, a slight flicker or brief dimming that becomes more pronounced over time indicates the presence of a poor connection somewhere in the system that needs to be addressed. Prior to calling an electrician, there are several factors to look at for flickering lights, such as when the lights flicker (and whether it’s associated with the start-up of a large appliance), how often the flickering occurs, and whether the flickering occurs throughout the house or only in one room or area. Here’s a look at the main causes of lights flickering in a house based on the type or pattern of flickering that’s occurring.
A situation where the same light or lights are flickering in one area and not throughout the home. The most obvious cause of this type of problem is a bad light bulb or a bad connection between the light bulb and the light fixture socket. However, if the problem is spread across multiple light fixtures but contained to a single area within the home, then it could be a circuit issue as well. An electrician can conduct a complete circuit diagnosis in this case to pinpoint the loose hot or neutral conductor that’s causing the issue, which may be located in a receptacle, a switch, a light, a j-box, or at the main electrical panel. Since loose connections can be dangerous, it’s important to identify and resolve the problem as soon as possible.
Lights in the home only flicker when a large appliance (such as the air conditioner) kicks on. This is actually a common problem, often associated with large outdoor A/C units that can draw up to 100+ amps when first turned on. Most homes have only a 200 amp main electrical service, so this draw can cause a brief flickering. In this case, the best thing to do to solve the problem is to contact an electrician to make sure that the outdoor unit is wired to the max ampacity, and that the wire size and fusing is correct, and all connections are tight. If everything looks good, then you might consider having a soft start kit installed on the outdoor unit to mitigate the amount of current required all at once to start the motor.
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If you have flickering lights in your home call a professional electrician like Rudolph Electric today to check out the problem. You could have a dangerous situation so don’t delay. Call 619-419-8813