If you have recently suffered from an extended power outage in your area, it is easy to think that a generator would have solved all of your problems. But homeowners must understand the correct use of a generator and what they can expect to get for their money when investing in a portable model or a whole home backup power solution.
As a rule, portable generators are the ones that you see in the big box stores that are mounted on a frame with wheels. These are also the units that can be found on many construction sites. And while these are handy tools, they are not a solution to powering your entire home. And when misused, they can be lethal.
The most important rule to remember is that these portable units need to be used outdoors. They cannot be run in an enclosed space. The exhaust produced is filled with carbon monoxide. It will quickly saturate the air in an enclosed space and result in carbon monoxide poisoning. And because the machine is operating outside in what could be moist conditions, be sure that it has GFCI protection on the outlets.
Finally, these units are suitable to power a few appliances like your refrigerator and a space heater. But they are not capable of providing power to your entire house. And they are also not designed to back feed electricity through the electrical system in your home. If this is done without a professionally installed transfer switch, you could put your neighbors and anyone working on the power lines in danger of a severe electrical shock or death.
When you are using a generator, you will need to place it close enough to your house to reach it with an extension cord. But you also need to be sure that the cord and the generator are protected from snow, rain, and moisture. And because the exhaust fumes contain carbon monoxide, you also need to keep the generator away from any doors and windows of your home. The exhaust could seep into your home and create a life-threatening hazard for you, your loved ones, and your pets.
If your home does not already have carbon monoxide detectors, it is a good idea to install them. And if you are considering the purchase of a portable generator to use in future power outages, then the CO2 detectors should be purchased with the generator and installed immediately as a safety precaution.
If you live in an area with frequent power failures or issues, then a backup generator is a wise choice. These specially designed units can power everything in your home, from your appliances to HVAC systems. Depending on the season, having heating or cooling can be life-altering after a severe storm that knocks out local power.
These standby generators are permanently installed pieces of equipment that run off natural gas, propane, or diesel fuel. When your trusted electrical contractor installs the generator, there is also a transfer switch installed. When your standard power fails, the generator will automatically turn on and supply power to your home. Your electrician will work with you to determine the precise size needed to best meet the needs of your home’s electrical demands and your budget.
To learn more about portable and standby generators for your home, call (703) 463-9866. A licensed electrician from Circuit Doctor will visit your home to help you decide which device will best meet your needs.
Storms hold the potential to cause a significant amount of damage to your home and its electrical system. And while these acts of nature cannot be avoided, you can be prepared to minimize the impact and level of inconvenience they insert into your lives. Acting quickly after storm damage to your home can be the difference between minor electrical damage and an electrical fire that destroys your home and belongings while also placing your loved ones in grave danger.
Some of the most common damage that you could be facing after a large storm includes:
As a storm rolls in and dumps a massive amount of water, the soil around your property will quickly become saturated. And when that downpour is accompanied by high wind, the most common damage is fallen trees. The roots can no longer bear the wind’s stress because of the softer soil, and the result is trees toppling over and taking power lines with them. Again, there is no way to stop these forces of nature, but you can be prepared with an alternative power source for your home. A portable generator can keep your refrigerator and freezer functioning, but that is about its limit. For a more reliable whole-home solution, check into a backup generator for your home. These units can restore your home’s major functions with the flip of a switch or a push of a button, including lighting, cooking capability, and even the comfort of your HVAC system.
If lighting strikes near your home, the massive surge of power can destroy electronics and electrical devices connected to your home’s electrical system. And in severe cases, an excessive amount of power can damage the wiring and electrical panel in your home. Many consumers think that small power strips with surge protection built-in will protect their expensive electronics. But that is rarely the case. The most reliable solution is a professionally installed lightning arrestor. This device prevents electrical damage to your home by diverting the electrical surge of power away from your home and to the ground.
During a severe storm, it is not unheard of for water to find its way into your home. And when it comes into contact with your electrical wiring, bad things will happen. The water will short out your power in the general area or even the entire house depending on the location of the short. And as with any electrical short, there is always the potential for an electrical fire. Ensuring that your home is water-tight is the only way to avoid potentially hazardous electrical shorts. But in the event of a strong storm, your home might not be able to withstand the extreme force, and water will enter your home. When this happens, it is critical that you call your trusted electrical professional immediately.
Storms are a part of life in many regions of the country. And in the community, residents know that a call to (703) 463-9866 is the best way to deal with electrical issues after a storm. The team at Circuit Doctor is here 24/7 to assist our customers as soon as they discover any storm damage to the electrical system. And we also offer backup generator and surge protection installation. We know that fast action is essential to take that first important step in getting your home and life back to a routine. Trust us to get the job done quickly, cost-effectively, and correctly when you need it the most.
Every home has at least one electrical panel or breaker box, as they were once known. It is where the electricity comes into your house and is distributed to the different rooms and areas on what is known as circuits. Using the circuit breakers in the panel, you can turn off the power to certain parts of your home or specific large appliances like your air conditioner or furnace. The circuit breakers also add a layer of safety by tripping when there is an issue with the incoming power like a spike or surge.
But just like every item in your home, your electrical panel can wear out or become outdated. And when this happens, there is an increased risk of electrical damage to your home’s electronics and appliances. But even more concerning is the increased potential for an electrical fire or electrical shock hazard when using your home’s outlets. So it is vital to know the signs of an electrical panel that needs to be upgraded.
If your home is still using a fuse box rather than an electrical panel with breakers, you need to schedule an upgrade as soon as possible. Fuse boxes have not been used since the late 60s and are not designed to meet a modern home’s electrical needs. As we mentioned, a breaker will trip and open the circuit to stop the flow of a power surge or an electrical spike. But a fuse simply melts or blows when there are abnormal fluctuations in power being supplied to your home. This method of stopping the flow of electricity represents an increased potential for an electrical fire in your home. It is also more challenging to correct the problem because the fuse must be replaced instead of simply resetting a breaker.
Your home’s age will dictate the size of the electrical panel in your home. Most older homes were built with 60-amp service. But today’s houses have 100 or 200-amp service to meet the needs of larger appliances and the increased number of electronics. Also, the wiring in those homes was only designed to accommodate the 60-amp service. So it is very likely that you are overloading both your electrical panel and your home’s wiring. Both of these issues increase the potential for electrical fires and damage to your home’s appliances and electronics.
This issue goes hand in hand with the age of your home. A few decades ago, there were no electronics and far fewer appliances in the average home. And that resulted in fewer outlets than you would expect to find in a newer home. Your solution might be using a variety of extension cords and power strips to keep everything working. But those are also increasing the chances of an overloaded circuit, damage to your home’s electrical components, and an electrical fire. Upgrading your electrical panel and adding outlets to a larger circuit is the only safe solution to having too few outlets.
If you notice your lights flicker regularly or dim when an appliance is turned on, then you should be seeking a price quote for an electrical panel upgrade. These are signs that you do not have sufficient electrical capacity to operate everything in your home correctly. Other indications include singed outlets, frequently tripped breakers, sparks when you insert a plug into an outlet, and a burnt odor around outlets. For more information about upgrading your home’s electrical panel, call (703) 463-9866 to schedule an appointment with the pros at Circuit Doctors.
If you live in an older home, you are sure to have discovered that there are no three-prong outlets in the house. That is not uncommon, but it is a problem because all major appliances have required three-prong plugs since 1969. So your only fast and cheap option has been to add a three-prong adapter to each three-prong plug that you need to plug into your older outlets. But over the years, you have started to wonder if adding adapters is a real solution or are you creating a substantial risk of an electrical fire in your home. There are a few things to consider when you evaluate your plugs and your home’s electrical system.
The big question is, can your home’s wiring safely supply the power that your appliance or tool will demand. So you need to consider the amps required by the item. It is a general given that most older homes with only two-slot outlets used cloth-insulated wiring. And that will not accommodate the high electrical demand appliances and tools used in most of today’s homes. You will find that the device works, but you are overloading the wires, which will become hot and can start a fire. Look at the breakers or fuses in your electrical panel to determine the amps available on each circuit. And then decide if the three-prong plugged device is low amp enough to plug in with an adapter.
If the electrical box is grounded, the wire will be attached to the center screw in older two-slot outlets, attach the adapter to the same screw via a grounding tab. If you can ground the adapter to the outlet, it is generally considered safe for short-term use. But again, this only applies if you have checked the amperage requirement for the device, and it is within the limits of your wiring and breakers.
It is important to note that the use of three-prong adapters is not always a wise choice, even if you have met the above criteria. Check your homeowners or renters insurance policy to see if three-prong adapters are called out. Many insurance companies will not cover fire damage or injuries resulting from appliances plugged into a three-prong adapter. And the same could be true for the warranty on any electrical items like appliances, HVAC equipment, and electronics.
You know that having only two-prong outlets is a sign that your home’s electrical system is older. But there are also other indications that the electrical system is not meeting your appliances and electronics’ needs. If you see the lights dim or flicker when an appliance turns on, you should be calling (703) 463-9866 for an evaluation from the pros at Circuit Doctor. Other signs of electrical overload hazards include:
All of these are strong indications that there are serious and very dangerous electrical overloads in your home. Left unaddressed, any of these outdated outlets or the wiring in your home to overheat and start a fire. Never risk the safety of your loved ones or your home. Call (703) 463-9866 for an electrical evaluation from the Circuit Doctor pros. We will determine if you need an electrical upgrade, new three-pronged outlet installations, or other repairs to keep your electrical system functioning correctly and safely.
Any electrician will tell you that if you need additional outlets in your home or electrical access in a new location, call in a professional to install the outlets. It is the only way to know that the outlet will be safe to use and will not damage your electronics or electrical device you are plugging in. But to be completely honest, there are times when you just need to get power to an area quickly, or you need an extra outlet. And you are happy to turn to a power strip to meet your needs. In fact, even electricians use power strips at home, but only in a safe manner.
You might think that there is nothing to consider when using a power strip. You plug one end into an outlet and then have the ability to plug multiple items into the power strip. But these devices have limitations, as do the outlets in your home. And if you are not careful, you can overload the power strip and your original outlet.
Electricity is a modern miracle that makes life much more convenient. But it also holds the potential to be dangerous and even life-threatening. When you need more power in a part of your home or workplace, it is best only to trust a licensed electrician to get you the power access you need. Overloaded wiring, circuits, and outlets are all fire hazards. And they are also placing your expensive appliances and technology at risk for damage or destruction.
Call (703) 463-9866 for an electrical evaluation and outlet installation so that you know the addition will be functional and safe. A Circuit Doctor professional will provide you with a price quote, complete the work and leave you with safe and functional outlets that are backed by a full parts and labor warranty.
Research has found that most homes in the United States are only about 50% energy efficient. And what that means for homeowners is that they are wasting a substantial amount of their hard-earned money on power. In almost every home, electricity is the largest utility bill. Reducing that monthly expense by 25% or even more would create savings that any homeowner would be happy to have. Below are several tips that will help you reduce your home’s electrical consumption and save money each month.
You might not realize just how many large electrical appliances you have in your home. But when you start a tally, the number could easily reach a dozen. In the kitchen, you have a stove, microwave, refrigerator, and maybe a dishwasher. Most homes also have a washer and dryer, water heater, a few televisions, and the biggie is the HVAC system. And as each of these items ages, it becomes less energy efficient. Replacing some or all of these items with Energy Star rated choices will substantially reduce your electricity consumption. The Energy Star rating on an appliance means that it has been independently tested and found to use less energy than comparable models of the same cost and capacity. In the case of items like freezers and refrigerators, insulation improvements also help newer appliances maintain temperature longer, so they run less frequently.
Many people are not aware that electrical devices use power even when they are turned off. Each item in your home that is plugged into an outlet right this moment, even if it is turned off, is drawing some power. Experts from the National Resources Defense Council have found that the average household in the United States could save between $100 and $200 per year by merely unplugging electronics, appliances, and other devices when they are not in use. And if you are not willing to climb behind the television, computer, or other appliances, think about installing a surge protector power strip combo to make it easy to cut off power to all of the appliances and devices stealing power when they are not even in use.
Did you know that an LED light bulb uses 85% less power than its incandescent counterpart? And they also last years longer than old-style light bulbs, up to ten years in some cases. So why would you not want to switch out your lightbulbs to save an estimated $100 over the lifetime of each bulb you replace? It doesn’t sound like much of a chore. And it could mean a savings of $4,000 considering the average home contains 40 light bulbs.
Many consumers take for granted the conveniences in their homes. They run the dishwasher when it is only half full or wash two pairs of pants instead of a full load. These are things that we do because they are easy. But when you choose to combine easy with thrifty, you can save a nice chunk of cash. And in the case of your dishwasher and washing machine, you will be saving electricity and water. So you should see a reduction in two utility bills. And by washing in cold water instead of warm or hot and hanging some clothes to dry, you will see your utility bills drop even lower.
Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is just a smart plan. And one that can save you much money. For more guidance on improving your home’s electricity consumption, call (703) 463-9866 to schedule an audit with the pros at Circuit Doctor.
Many homeowners look forward to the cooler winter months and all of the holidays that come in this season. However, no one is looking forward to having electrical problems around their home this winter. But because of the added demand placed on your home’s electrical system by heating, added lights, and the use of other devices, you need to be aware of the potential risks. And know how to handle these winter electrical problems that could arise safely. Read More
Have you noticed that some or all of the lights in your home are flickering? At first, it might have been just mildly annoying. But as you notice this problem more frequently, it becomes more of a nuisance. However, there is more to it than just an odd dimming of your lights. It could be an indication of a much more severe and potentially dangerous issue in your home. Read More
Holiday lights are one of the features that most people love the most about the season. And they can be found just about anywhere, from the trees to your home’s exterior. Some very festive residents even carry the mood to their vehicle or boat. And while putting up the lights can be a bit of a chore, once they are twinkling the fantastic colors the first night, you are happy to have invested the time. But there is one more aspect that can be a big drawback for many homeowners on a budget. The cost of holiday lighting can quickly become quite expensive. Fortunately, there are several tips that we have compiled to help keep the cost of your holiday lighting as reasonable as possible. Read More
Over the years, you are sure to have noticed increases in your electric bill. But most of the time, you chalk it up to a rate increase or added fees and taxes. Since the 1950s, the average household’s electric bill has increased to be about 13 times what it was 70 years ago. But there have also been many wonderful additions to the average home, such as central air conditioning, massive appliances, televisions, computers, and gaming systems. However, with all of this consumption, you will be happy to know that there are several ways that you can reduce your electrical costs without drastically altering your lifestyle. Read More