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7 Tips For Electrical Safety at Home

tip for electrical safety

Electricity is an essential part of our lives, and using it safely is of vital importance. Every year, thousands of people in the U.S. are injured or electrocuted as a result of electrical accidents and electrical fires in their homes. Preventing these injuries and fires can easily be prevented by understanding basic electrical safety practices.

Here are seven tips for electrical safety at home.

Get to Know Your Electrical Panel

Your electrical panel is essentially a big switch filled with smaller switches that delivers electricity to different parts of your home. It’ll have a main breaker, which controls the entire panel, and smaller breakers that service specific rooms or appliances. If a breaker trips, you can identify it by it being in an off or nearly off position. Turn it completely off and back on to reset it. However, if it trips again right after it’s reset, that means there is potentially an electrical problem. Continuing to reset it can cause a fire, so contact an electrician to look into the issue for you.

Ground Older Appliances

A grounded appliance means that the appliance is connected to an electrical neutral, so the circuit breaker will be tripped if there is an electrical fault. This will protect you from electrical shock and injury.

Use Extension Cords Properly

Limit your use of extension cords if possible. If you need to use one, make sure it is the appropriate size for use, don’t connect cords, and don’t run it across doorways or under carpets. Instead of extension cords, consider having a qualified electrician add circuits or outlets.

Never Use Water on an Electrical Fire

Water conducts electricity, so throwing it on a fire could make the fire bigger. Use a chemical fire extinguisher instead. Make sure you always have one on hand.

Check Outlets and Switches

Wobbly switches or outlets might not be installed properly or may have come loose from the stud. Faceplates that are warm to the touch could signify a number of electrical issues, as well. Always cut the power to outlets and switches before making any repairs or doing any investigation.

Practice Good Appliance Safety

Immediately unplug an appliance that isn’t working properly or is sparking. Unplug appliances before cleaning or repairing. Turning off an appliance does not cut the electricity to it, only unplugging it does. If you’re using high-wattage appliances, make sure only one is plugged into an outlet at a time.

Always Use A Qualified, Licensed Electrician

DIY electrical work can be dangerous, so it’s typically the best practice to contact a qualified and licensed electrician to make any repairs or changes to your home’s electricity. Contact the professionals at WireCraft Electric if you have any questions or concerns with your home’s electricity.

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Energy Efficient Tips for Your Home

Energy Efficient

There are many small steps homeowners can take to make their homes more energy efficient. Whether you’re looking to save on your monthly bill, make your house more green to do your part to protect the planet, implementing these quick and easy changes can add up to big savings and an even bigger environmental impact.

What is behind your walls?

Improving your insulation can make a significant difference on your home’s temperature… And in turn, your energy bills. Replacing the insulation in your ceilings, attic, walls, and basement can block the outside air from entering. 

Are you using the right power strip?

Newer power strips have the capability to help reduce wasted electricity from idle electronics. Advanced power strips have been designed to hold home entertainment and office equipment. 

Take a look out the window…

Windows can be some of the biggest culprits in letting in outside air, and allowing inside air to escape. Drafty windows can be drains that keep your home from operating at its maximum energy efficiency.

Switching to an upgraded grid is more energy efficient

Under the Recovery Act, homeowners across the country installed more than 15 million smart meters, which give consumers more direct access to the information about their home’s energy usage. The new electric grid has compatibility with software that allows homeowners to monitor their electricity consumption in smaller blocks of time, from between 15 minutes to one hour, and to pinpoint the exact source of electricity usage.

Bigger really is is better.

Installing a copper wire one size larger than the requirements has helped homeowners to see immediate savings. In addition to that, it also reduce the power losses, and more than make up for the investment of replacing the wire.

Call us at Wire Craft Electric when you’re ready to improve the energy efficiency of your Seattle-area home, 

Since 2004, we’ve been working to help homeowners make upgrades that will save them energy usage and money!

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5 Ways You’re Using Extension Cords Wrong

using extension cords wrong

Sometimes, you just need an extra outlet. Whether you’re trying to charge a device or gain some extra lighting, the first thought that usually crosses your mind is to grab an extension cord. Unfortunately, in more cases than we would like to see, homeowners are using extension cords incorrectly, which can cause several serious situations, like increased risk of shorts, fire hazards, and so much more.

Here are the top five wrong ways we’re seeing that people are using extension cords wrong:

The Wrong Size

Extension cords come in all shapes and sizes. While it may seem that these are more adaptable, different sizes are also indicators of the performance capacity of each extension cord. Each cord has a gauge that measures its size; a smaller gauge number indicates a larger wire. Large wires can safely transfer a higher electrical current. Likewise, longer cords aren’t able to handle as much current as a stronger cord that has the same gauge.

The Wrong Type

It’s best to buy the appropriate extension cord for your project: outdoor extension cords should be used for outdoor projects, because they have been designed to withstand the elements. When you want to plug in appliances, choose round, thick, low-gauge extension cords, as they will allow for the best performance. Thin or flat cords of varying gauges are acceptable options for small appliances and electronics.

The Wrong Care

Certain habits can damage your extension cord and increase the risk of problems. When extension cords are in use, make sure they lay flat. Cords shouldn’t be coiled, bent, or twisted. Make sure that cords aren’t placed under rugs or furniture, and never adhere an extension cord to the floor or walls with nails or staples.

The Wrong Treatment

One bad habit we’ve seen is the removal of the grounding pin from a three-prong extension cord so that the cord fits in a two-prong outlet. Without the grounding pin, which is attached to the earth, you’ll be more likely get sudden shocks from an appliance and electrical parts inside the chassis can become loose or move out of place and short-circuit the current. While both two-prong and three-prong extension cords are safe, removing components never is.

The Wrong Use

Attaching multiple cords together, or powering multiple appliances with one cord can cause a safety hazard. Make sure to always unplug unused extension cords, use the plug to disconnect the extension cord, rather than tugging on the cord itself, and remember: extension cords are designed to be a temporary solution.

Give us a call today and we can help you decide if you need a permanent answer.

 

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Cool Your Home With 5 Efficient Ways (Seattle Summers)

 

cool your home

Summer’s coming, everyone. We’ve had a few gorgeous days of weather over the last couple of months, which has reminded us that now is the time to prepare for the season ahead. June and July is when the heat comes on full-blast in the Seattleland area, so we’ve compiled 5 helpful hints to cool your home, aside from the obvious solution of A/C or a multitude of fans taking up every outlet of your home. Even just following these simple steps can help immensely!

Lower the Shades

You can use the option to close your windows for the entire day to keep heat out, but if you miss the scent of fresh summer air, you can still cool your house down without going that drastic. Survey your home to determine when the sun hits the hardest and keep your shades and windows closed during that time. White window shades can be an added cooling aspect, but darker colors will absorb more heat. If you want to use air conditioning sparingly, this would be the best time of day to turn it on, using an energy-efficient setting. If you use a ceiling fan with your air conditioning unit, the air circulation will also increase the cool air flow.

Don’t Increase the Heat Load

Obviously, cooking creates a greater heat load in the house (summer is a great time for fresh salads and outdoor BBQ, or even an occasional set-it-and-forget-it crockpot meal, like this coffee-rubbed roast), but while we’re talking indoors: appliances such as washing machines, dryers and dishwashers can also generate a considerable amount of hot air. This can make it tough to cool your home for hours, even after they haven’t been in use. Keep appliances off during the day whenever possible, and if you must turn on the gas range or oven, only do it during the coolest times of the day.

Ventilate to Cool Your Home

Take advantage of the cooler days by using window fans. Window fans will maximize the cooling capacity by taking the cooler air from outside and bringing it inside. Keep all of your doors open and the fans situated on your house’s downwind side, facing out. When the temperature gets warmer, close the windows and trap the cooler air from earlier in the day inside.

Insulate

Make sure that your home is well-insulated around your windows and doors. Don’t forget to double check the insulation around air ducts in the basement and attic. If you have a fireplace, you should make sure that it is sealed. It may be allowing outside heat in.

Cast shade

Planting trees outside your house will cast large shadows on the sides of your house. It will significantly cool your home inside if you can invest the time it takes for them to grow. Keep in mind that even small trees can generate breeze. With that, you will experience some heat relief immediately upon planting.

Do you have any helpful tips for cooling down your home when the weather heats up? We’d love to hear from you. Feel free to leave a comment or your feedback on what’s worked for you. Also fee free to contact us if you need help with your home plans.

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Common Home Electrical Panel Problems

common electrical panel problems

Electrical problems are pretty common. Sometimes these problems can be easy to fix, but sometimes they can be a little complicated. We thought it would be nice to do a little run-down of the most common electrical panel problems that you can expect to experience in your home – it’s always better to be informed. Keep an eye out for these five issues with your electrical panel.

Corrosion

Corrosion is probably the most common problem, and it ranges from very minimal to very excessive. Any source of moisture, such as humidity or even a steady dripping of water entering from a main service wire, can do a whole lot of serious damage to electric panels. If you can eliminate all sources of moisture in your home, you will do yourself a big favor and will avoid corrosion altogether. Once corrosion gets bad enough, electrical connections become compromised and you’ll probably have to get wires and other parts repaired or replaced.

Double taps

The term “double tap” refers to when multiple hot or physical wires are physically connected to a single lug (where only one wire should be connected). This is most common on breakers, and is usually done because there are no more slots in the panel to add any new circuits. The only other option is to “tap” into an existing circuit at the breaker’s connection . While this is not usually a serious concern, double tapping is contrary to proper installation.

Oversized breakers or fuses

Sometimes this problem is called “overfusing.” This condition occurs whenever a load-carrying wire is undersized when compared to the rating of the fuse or breaker to which it is connected. This condition can be very serious and has the potential to burn down a house!

Improper bonding

Box bonding is the best type of bonding to have inside a panel, but not all panels have it. Generally speaking, a typical interior main electric panel should have some type of panel enclosure, but any sub panel that resides within the same structure should not have any type of bonding in place.

Bad or missing handle ties.

A handle tie is the device which physically connects the two separate breaker switches on a 2-pole breaker. This tie should not be replaced with an unapproved item. Most often, these ties are missing altogether, but sometimes that ties are made of unapproved materials like a nail or a short piece of wire. This is a huge hazard and can cause many electrical problems.

If you have any further questions on these issues, our would like to have Wire Craft out to check your electrical panel, check out our website and request a service!

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Light Bulbs: Different Types and When To Use Them

Questions on Light BulbsShopping for light bulbs seems like it should be a pretty straightforward thing to do, right? But, once you enter the light bulb aisle, it can become a bit overwhelming. Between lumens, energy savings, varying wattage, and more, it could be hard to know if you’re choosing the best bulb for your intended purpose. Different bulbs produce different lighting effects, and they can have varying performance, as well. Check out this short guide to give you a better understanding of light bulbs, so you’re well-equipped in determining how to choose the correct one.

CFL vs. LED

Compact Fluorescent (CFL) and Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs are both the most energy-efficient options. CFL bulbs do produce UV light and heat, while heat produced by LED bulbs is absorbed by a heat sink, so they stay cool to the touch.  CFL bulbs contain a small amount of mercury and last about nine years. LED bulbs contain no mercury and can last up to 20 years. Both can be used in standard light fixtures like table lamps, pendants, and ceiling fans, and CFL bulbs are a little less expensive than LED bulbs.

Halogen and Fluorescent

Halogen bulbs give off the light that is the most similar to natural daylight. They burn at a higher temperature and are most often used in under-cabinet lighting, pendant lights, or recessed lighting. Fluorescent bulbs are tubes filled with mercury vapor that emit UV light, and they contain a coating that turns the UV light into visible light. They are typically tube-shaped but also come in u-shaped and circular. They work well to light large areas like basements, attics, or garages.

Lumens and Watts

Lumens is the measurement of light emitted by a bulb. So, more lumens means a brighter light. Watts signify the amount of energy a bulb uses. Lower wattage means your energy bill will be lower, too. Even though CFL and LED bulbs use a lower wattage than standard incandescent lights, they emit the same amount of lumens. When choosing a bulb, you should never exceed the maximum recommended wattage for your light fixture.

Light Color

Light color is measured by the Kelvin temperature scale. The lower the number means the more yellow the light while a higher number is a whiter – or, bluer – light. Warm white is great for bedrooms, dens, or living rooms. Bright, or cool white or cool white is ideal for kitchens, workspaces, and bathrooms.

Light Bulb Shape

LED, CFL, and halogen bulbs are available in a variety of shapes and bases to fit nearly any fixture. A good idea when lightbulb shopping is to bring in the old bulb, so you make sure you choose the correct base and size.

While the options for light bulbs can seem overwhelming at first, this guide should help you understand them a bit better – bookmark it so you can pull it up on your next trip to the hardware store. You can adjust light color, lumens, and light bulb shape depending on the room and the fixture, so the lighting in your home is always perfect for your needs. If you need light fixtures installed or have any lighting issues in your home, contact the professionals at Wire Craft Electric to help you out. You can submit your question or request on our contact form, and we’ll reach out right away.

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Top Electrical Problems in Older Seattle Homes

Purchasing an older home in Seattle often comes with many benefits – a great neighborhood, tons of character, and rock-solid construction. However, older homes come with their share of issues, too. Read on to learn about common electrical problems in older Seattle homes and how they can be solved.

Electrical Problems in Older Homes - Seattle, WA

Knob and Tube Wiring

Knob and tube wiring was the go-to method for electricians from the 1880s through the 1930s, and many continued to use the method all the way through the 1970s for new construction. If you purchase an older home, you might find “hidden” knob and tube wiring throughout the house. The problem with knob and tube wiring is that it only has two wires: a black (hot) wire and a white (neutral) one, so there is no ground wire in the system. Knob and tube is also restricted to a 60-amp service.

One of the biggest dangers of knob and tube is the fact that the insulation for the wires is made of rubber instead of plastic and can be worn down, leaving live wires exposed to air and moisture, which increases the chance of a short or fire. Modifications done incorrectly to a knob and tube system also pose a risk to current homeowners.

If you need to update the knob and tube system, add more circuits, or ground the electric, you’ll want to hire a reputable professional to do the job.

Missing Junction Boxes

Some older homes in Seattle and the Puget Sound region don’t have a junction box where a light fixture is installed. If one of your home renovation plans is to install new fixtures, you’ll need to also install junction boxes, since new light fixtures require them. While this may seem like a small job, each installation needs to be evaluated individually and may not be as straightforward as it seems. Wire Craft Electric can get junction boxes installed correctly for you to ensure you don’t have any issues with your new light fixtures.

Moisture Intrusion

Seattle is not lacking in moisture, and sometimes that can pose a problem to your home’s electrical system. If your home’s electrical system has been compromised by moisture at all, or if any part of it is not rain-tight, you will not want to deal with that issues on your own and should contact a professional electrician.

While older homes hold plenty of charm and character, they can also have a host of problems, some visible and some not. If your older Seattle home has any electrical issues, contact the professionals at Wire Craft Electric to remedy them safely and correctly.

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Kitchen Guide: 10 Kitchen Electrical Safety Tips

kitchen electrical safety tips

The kitchen is one of the most useful – but potentially, the most dangerous – rooms in our home. This means it’s important to be well aware of electrical safety in the kitchen. Every year, electrical malfunctions are responsible for death and injury, and they are a leading cause of fires in homes. It’s important to be aware of any safety issues in your kitchen, especially with so many appliances and gadgets running on a consistent basis.

Here are ten kitchen electrical safety tips to keep you and your family safe.

1. It should go without saying: be sure you’ve turned off appliances like the oven, coffee maker, and stove-top burners after using them.

2. Periodically check the condition of the plugs and sockets in your kitchen. Look for any burnt or frayed wires on appliances.

3. Do not use the top of your microwave as a place to set liquids. Liquids could spill, causing a short circuit.

4. Make sure there is room behind your fridge and freezer for air to circulate.

5. Ideally, only one appliance should be plugged into each outlet, to avoid overloading the outlet, wiring, and circuit breaker. If you don’t have a sufficient amount of outlets in your kitchen, we can install some more for you.

Are you ready for more tips? Let’s continue!

6. Do not attempt to put out an electrical fire with water. Unplug the appliance if possible and smother the flames with a blanket or heavy fabric. Or, use a fire extinguisher rated for electrical fires.

7. Unplug any countertop appliances when they are not in use, and move them away from the sink. If a non-GFCI appliance is accidentally knocked into the sink, there is a great risk for electrical shock.

8. Test all of your GFCI outlets on a monthly basis. Plugging small appliances into working GFCI outlets greatly reduces your risk of electric shock.

9. Do not use power strips or extension cords to plug in appliances on a permanent basis. Appliances should be plugged directly into grounded outlets.

10. While sufficient lighting is important in your kitchen, do not put oversized bulbs into your kitchen’s light fixtures. The light socket and wiring could overheat and burn.

Some of these kitchen electrical safety precautions are easy for you to implement, fix, or keep in mind moving forward. However, when it comes to installing new outlets, changing wires, or performing other electrical repairs, you should always use a professional to ensure the job is done correctly and to code. Wire Craft Electric can help you make the proper updates to improve the electrical safety of your kitchen.

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10 Reasons DIY Electrical Work is Dangerous

Professional Seattle Electrician

Many of us fall into the trap of watching home improvement shows on HGTV or the DIY Network and thinking that we have the skills to tackle our home improvement projects. While we may be able to handle some things, like painting or tearing out a wall (that’s an excellent way to blow off some steam, wouldn’t you agree?), there’s one part of your home that you should always call a professional for, and that would be for electrical work.

Trying to do DIY electrical work can be incredibly dangerous, and even have devastating consequences. We’ve rounded up ten reasons why you should always call a professional electrician when it comes to electrical work.

Fire
An overloaded circuit, faulty connections, the wrong gauge of wire used (and more) are all common DIY electrical mistakes that can lead to overheating, sparks, and worse: a house fire.

Electrocution
We can all recover from hitting our thumbs with a hammer, but working with electricity doesn’t always give you the same chance for recovery. Touching the wrong wires together or not making sure the current is off can have potentially fatal results.

Code Violations
Without a full understanding, your work might not meet code. If you are making improvements to put your house on the market, you might be facing big costs for repairing shoddy electrical work. It’s best just to start with a professional to avoid any costly mistakes from the get go.

Building Permits
Most communities require a building permit for significant electrical work. If you don’t obtain a building permit to ensure the work is done correctly, you could be putting you and your family at risk.

Expensive Repairs
Even if you manage to survive the process and not start a fire, if you don’t do the wiring properly, it can fail. You’ll be required to hire a professional anyway, so you might as well put your DIY money towards a professional at the beginning.

Ceiling Fan Disasters
Installing a ceiling fan might seem like a simple process, but if done incorrectly, you could have a fan come crashing down on you. It’s more common than you think.

Outdoor Outlet Danger
If you put an outlet outside, it needs a ground-fault interrupter button that will trip the outlet if there’s any water. Many DIYers don’t know this, and this mistake can be destructive and dangerous.

Overestimating Skills
Even the seemingly simple task of changing an outlet or light switch can go wrong. A loose outlet means wires can move around, which can lead to arcing and overheating.

Improperly Labeled Breaker Box
If you determine the current is off to a room just because the lights are off, you could end up severely injured if you start working on wires that are still live.

Putting in the Wrong Products
If you’re not a professional, you might not be aware of the proper type of wires, types of outlets, or switches that should be used in certain situations. Using the wrong product can cause big problems.

When it comes to your home’s electrical work, your best bet is to hire a professional the first time around, to avoid any of these costly and dangerous mistakes. Do you have any stories of times you’ve tried to be the professional electrician? We’d love to hear them, so be sure to leave a comment.

For electrical work in the Seattle area, contact WireCraft Electric to complete your job safely and correctly – we’re here to help.

 

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