Why an Electrical Safety Inspection is Important – and Lifesaving

Have you ever considered scheduling an electrical safety inspection for your home?  You don’t often think about your electricity working. It runs behind the scenes and gives you all the modern comforts you want in your home. However, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), electrical problems are the largest cause of property damage in home structure fires across the US.

In addition, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) identifies small appliances plugged into inadequate or improper wiring as the leading cause of accidental electrocutions.  These safety hazards can be easily addressed and prevented with an electrical home inspection.

What Is an Electrical Safety Inspection?

An electrical safety inspection gives a full examination of your entire electrical system.  This ensures that electrical wires, systems, and appliances meet legal safety standards.

When Do You Need an Electrical Safety Inspection?

There are specific times when homeowners should schedule an inspection of their home’s electrical system. The Electrical Safety Foundation recommends that homeowners make an appointment for one when:

  • Purchasing a home
  • A home is 40 years or older
  • Adding an appliance
  • A home has had a major renovation

Benefits of an Electrical Safety Inspection

An inspection is important for the safety of your home and everyone in it. Getting your home’s electrical system checked by a professional will offer you peace of mind. An inspection will:

  • Ensure the safe operation of electrical components in your home
  • Identify common electrical mistakes made by contractors and previous homeowners
  • Recognize outdated wiring
  • Identify electrical wiring and components that may have degraded over time
  • Spot oversized fuses or breakers that could lead to fire
  • Allow for the correction of fire and safety hazards
  • Help you save energy and reduce costs
  • Meet insurance risk assessment inspections requirements
  • Let you know the electrical in a new home is safe before you purchase it

Warning Signs

If you experience any of these warning signs call a licensed electrician right away:

  • You feel a tingling sensation when you touch a plug or light switch
  • Your circuit breaker flips frequently or fuses blow regularly
  • An appliance gives off a faint rubbery or burning smell
  • Your outlet plates are warm to the touch or discolored
  • An electrical appliance has been waterlogged or submerged in any liquid
  • An outlet sparks
  • Your lights dim or flicker

To schedule a safety inspection with a professional electrician, contact Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 800.461.3010.

Why Is My Electrical Outlet Not Working?

A common electrical problem that homeowners face is dead outlets. Dead outlets happen in almost every house and for a number of reasons regardless of the home’s age. Identify why an electrical outlet is not working so you can decide if you can fix it yourself or if you need a professional electrician to do the job.

Start with troubleshooting the electrical outlet that isn’t working. Here are some ways to identify the problem.

Flip the light switch

Yes, it seems too obvious. But, this is the first place to start troubleshooting. Some outlets are controlled by a switch on the wall. The purpose of this outlet is to allow you to plug in a lamp, turn it on, and then have the ability to control the lamp from the light switch. Try flipping a few switches to see if this makes outlet live again.

Plug in different items

Test the outlet by plugging in multiple other items to the electrical outlet not working. If none of the devices power up, you can move on to other troubleshooting techniques.

Reset GFCI outlet

GFCI Outlet

The law requires installation of a GFCI outlet (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) in any area of a home where there is a faucet or other water source near an outlet. This is designed to protect against electrocution, but it can be temperamental.  It will cut off the electricity in an area in response to a power surge. Make sure that there is no water in contact with your GFCI outlet before pressing the small rectangular “Reset” button.

If the power did return to the outlet after resetting the GFCI outlet, test

to see if other nearby outlets also lost power. If the other outlets are dead you’ll need to inspect the breaker panel.

Check circuit breaker panel

If the electricity cuts off in only a portion of the house, then a circuit breaker has been tripped. The circuit breaker is meant to detect excess current and stop the flow of power to different circuits in your home to prevent damage. If this occurs, unplug everything from the problem outlet and turn off all appliances in that area of the house to avoid overloading the circuit.

Go to your breaker panel, which is typically located in a utility room, garage or basement, and look at the different switches. Each breaker switch controls the power to a different circuit in the home. If a breaker flipped to the middle between “ON” and “OFF” then it has been triggered.  Flip it to the “OFF” side first, and then flip it to the “ON” side. That will reset the breaker. Go back to the problem outlet and test it again.

Check for short circuit

A short circuit occurs when the flow of electricity is obstructed. This could potentially lead to a fire. If the breaker flips again after you’ve reset it and you don’t have anything plugged in, then leave the breaker “OFF” and call an electrician.

Check connection of electrical wiring

Loose connecting wires can cause an outlet to not give off electricity. Make sure the breaker to the outlet is switched “OFF” and then remove the face plate from the outlet. Pull the outlet a few inches out from the outlet box and check to make sure the ends of the wires that attach to the outlet are securely fastened beneath the outlet screws.

The black wire attaches to the gold screw on the side of the outlet, and the white wire connects to the silver screw on the other side. A copper or green wire attaches to the bottom of the outlet. If any of the wires have come loose, reattach them by positioning the wire beneath the corresponding screw and then tighten the screw securely to hold it in place.

Replace the outlet

Although rare, the outlet might be faulty. An outlet can reach its useful life, burn out and quit functioning. Home wiring is complex and can be dangerous. Certified electricians are the best at locating signs of electrical problems at home. If the problem is still occurring, then call a professional.

Remember that electrical repairs can be dangerous, possibly resulting in shock, electrocution, or fire if you are unsure of what you’re doing.  Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing, & Electrical at 1.800.461.3010 for professional assistance.

Prepare Your Home for Snow and Ice: Winter Safety Tips

Falling snow is a beautiful part of winter, but it can also pose potential dangers for homeowners. It’s important to prepare your home for snow and ice so you can stay safe and prevent extra work down the road. To ensure no problems show up and to keep your family safe, these projects should be done throughout the coldest months.

Prevent Water Damage

  • Ventilate the attic and insulate the attic floor to stop warm air in the house from melting snow and ice on the roof.
  • Wrap exposed pipes with insulation sleeves.
  • Caulk cracks and holes in the home’s outer walls and foundation. Holes left by cable installation can also leave pipes exposed.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors so warm air can circulate around pipes.
  • Trickle water from any faucet connected to pipes that run through unprotected spaces.
  • Locate the home’s main water valve, usually found in the basement or outside near the curb. Turn water off quickly if a pipe does burst.
  • If you are traveling and leave the house unoccupied for an extended period, shut off the water and have a professional drain the system. Turn the heat down, but don’t turn it off.

Buy a carbon-monoxide detector.It is important to have a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home

  • Install carbon-monoxide detectors on all floors of your home to prevent one of the biggest winter dangers, carbon-monoxide poisoning. This can happen when ventilation of furnaces, generators, charcoal-burning or propane-burning devices, or wood-burning stoves are not properly ventilated.

Buy a generator

  • Use a generator to keep your heat and power running. This includes your sump pump, and your fire and burglar alarms.
  • Consider installing an automatic standby generator, which immediately turns on after a power outage. You may qualify for a discount on your homeowners insurance, too.

Prepare for a Flood

  • When snow and ice begin to melt, be aware of flooding for localized trouble spots around your house. Water can buildup can seep into your foundation and flood the basement.
  • If you have a sump pump, check to ensure it’s working properly in advance.

Ensure Proper Ventilation

  • Clean exhaust fans and filters in the bathrooms and kitchens because we spend more time indoors.
  • Dust and airborne particles can cause indoor air quality issues in the absence of adequate ventilation. They can even become a fire hazard.
  • Monitor other filters in your home, including cleaning out the dryer’s filter and replacing the furnace filter.

Prepare Your Pipes for the Cold

  • Prevent water issues by insulating water pipes exposed to freezing temperatures. Pipes that border an exterior wall have the greatest freezing potential, so they should be insulated with a towel or other piece of cloth.
  • In extreme cold weather, open water lines slightly to allow water to drip slowly into an indoor sink.

Prevent Icy Gutters

  • Clean gutters before the snow falls to help prevent water and ice buildup that could eventually find its way into your home.
  • After the colder weather arrives, look for clogged gutters by checking for large icicles hanging from them and/or an accumulation of ice on the roof.

Eliminate Outdoor Electrical Problems

  • Prevent electrical problems by inspecting the outside of your home. Specifically, look for damaged or frayed wires vulnerable to harm from snow and ice.
  • Check for any bird nests near electrical fixtures. Nests can cause a fire.
  • Make sure any electronic decorations have tight-fitting connections: three-pronged outlets are optimal. These cords should be stored away from main walkways, and never beneath a carpet or rug, as this creates a fire hazard.

For professional help with your HVAC, plumbing, and electrical work, contact Central Carolina Air Conditioning at 1.800.461.3010. This winter, we can help you prepare your home for snow and ice!

DIY Project Safety and Kids

Family DIY ProjectA growing family and tight budget can make DIY home improvements necessary, but there are extra safety precautions that have to be considered when renovating with children in the home.  Basic comfort and convenience aside, keeping dangerous tools, materials, and chemicals away from children requires extra planning and care.

Here are some tips to keep children safe during DIY home projects:

  • As a general rule, any time you are considering doing home improvements (with or without children in the home), compare your estimated cost in materials/time to what a professional would charge.
  • Break large scale projects into phases. Make sure that you identify specific areas of the house for your family that won’t be impacted, and don’t allow any project materials or tools in those areas. Make sure the “work-free” areas can function between phases of the project.
  • Don’t try to multi-task. Even small repairs require full attention and if you’re responsible for supervising a child at the same time, you could be putting everyone at risk. Work with family or other caregivers to designate work times when small children can be supervised.
  • Ask for help. Make sure you truly understand the scope of the project and how long it will take to complete. For example, one person painting a room that requires priming and two coats of paint could take two days or more. It’s possible that three people could do it in less than 24 hours.
  • Any DIY project that requires breaching the security of exterior doors or windows, cutting off access to water or electricity, or moving furniture should be carefully considered. In some cases, it’s best to have children stay with a family member if security or physical safety is an issue.
  • Determine a lockable space to secure tools and equipment when you take breaks or between project phases.
  • Be aware of fumes and dust travelling through air vents. If you can, isolate your work space with a door or hang heavy duty plastic in the doorway. As a precaution, cover air intake vents and open windows exterior doors.

Before starting major DIY projects, it’s best to consult an expert.  Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning at 800-461-3010 to ensure your safety before starting a project, especially one involving electrical or plumbing systems.

Why you Need Surge Protection

Surge Protection

In a previous post, we addressed the dangers that can come from dryer fires and why it’s important to take preventative measures and keep your home and family safe. It’s equally important to have surge protection in your home to protect your home from electrical hazards. Society has evolved over the past several years and there are more technological pieces per household than there have ever been before. With this comes a great chance of surges happening because each electronic often comes with a circuit board.

So what exactly is a power surge? It’s an intense short burst that’s generated within the home. These bursts are caused by motors within electronics, and it’s rare for them to take down the whole electrical system. Over time, however, the mini surges add up and will begin to take a toll on the lifespan and performance of your appliances. We’ve shared a few things that you’ll want to know about surge protectors before getting one yourself:

  •  If you have a device or appliance that isn’t dedicated to a circuit but is connected with other devices, there’s a potential problem. If that device sends a surge through that circuit, the other outlets from the shared devices could also be susceptible to a surge. This is one reason to get surge protection in your whole home.
  • Instead of getting a surge protector at the electrical panel, it’s a good idea to consider getting a surge protector at the point of use to help protect electronics that are especially sensitive.
  • If you have a whole home entertainment system or home theater, power conditioners with surge suppression capability are the best route. They provide power through a filtered system to your video and audio equipment.
  • You don’t want to buy just any surge protector – make sure you’re getting the right one for your home. Many homes have 120V service. If this is the same for your home, then an 80kA rated surge protector should be adequate. The reason why is because it’s unlikely for a home to surge over 10kA, so many homes will be covered and protected with the 80kA rated surge protector. Of course it’s important for you to verify which your home is and what’s the best protector for your appliances and systems.
  • You’ll also want to pay attention to the nominal discharge rating for your surge protectors. Ratings should be 3, 5 or 10KA. This rating is important because it indicates the ability to weather through high energy waves respectively over time and still operate optimally.
  • The Voltage Protection Rating should also be considered when purchasing a surge protector. This represents that amount of voltage that the surge protector allows to pass through it. For this rating, you’ll want to have lower numbers such as 500V to 600V.
  • Surge protectors should be replaced annually to make sure you’re your electronics are protected.

When using any form of electricity, it’s always important to make sure that your electrical panel is operating efficiently and safely. Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical can perform a thorough scan throughout your home, looking for any hot spots in your electrical system. We will also test the ground fault outlets to make sure that they are functioning properly.

Give us a call today Call to schedule your appointment today at 800-461-3010.

How to Prevent your Dryer from Causing Fires

Prevent Dryer Fires

With all the household tasks that constantly need attention, the last thing on your mind is probably cleaning the dryer. While the dryer won’t need as much attention from you like washing the floors or counters, it is still a household chore that needs to be done from time to time. Cleaning the dryer will keep your family safe and mitigate any risks from a potential dryer fire. It’s recommended that you clean your dryer every year to ensure that there is proper dryer ventilation. Dryers are one of the leading causes of house fires every year. The National Fire Protection Association reported that 14,692 house fires in 2018 were caused by dryers. There are ways to make sure that you are keeping your family safe and your home protected! We’ve provided the following list with dryer safety in mind:

  • Always use the lint filter when running a load through your drying machine. It is very dangerous to dry clothes if the lint filter is not installed properly.
  • It’s not just enough to have a lint filter in your dryer every time you dry a load of laundry. You should also clean your lint filter every time before using the dryer.
  • Your dryer should have rigid or flexible metal venting material to maintain proper drying time and air flow.
  • To keep your dryer safe from fires, also make sure that the air exhaust vent pipe isn’t restricted. The outdoor vent flap should be properly opening when the dryer is running, so check to make sure that there is no problem with the vent flap being opened to the outdoors.
  • If you notice that your dryer is not thoroughly drying your clothes, it’s a good idea to clean the lint out of the vent pipe more than just once a year. If you don’t know how to do this or don’t have time, there are lint removal services who can clean the vent pipe.
  • It may seem like a more obvious point, but it’s always smart to check and confirm that the right outlet and plug are used and connected to your dryer properly.
  • Don’t overload your dryer with too many clothes. This is not good for your dryer and often won’t thoroughly dry your clothes either.
  • If you have a gas dryer, get it inspected by a professional who will check for leaks and make sure that the gas line and connection are properly working.
  • Always have your dryer serviced by a professional. It’s dangerous to attempt fully servicing yourself, and they will make sure it’s done the right way.
  • Before you leave your home, check to make sure the dryer is turned off, and never leave it running while you’re gone!

If your dryer vent is plugged or even partially plugged, you’ll also be paying higher costs to operate your dryer each time due to the longer drying period. Additionally, your dryer will experience wear and wear that will impact the longevity of your appliance. Call Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical to perform maintenance on your dryer vents and ensure that your dryer is connected and operating efficiently and safely!

Call to schedule your appointment today at 800-461-3010.

Installing a Home Office

The number of people who work from home has increased over the years. More companies are also allowing for this option within their company structure. When working from home, however, you need to have an efficient system for optimal internet speed and performance. We’ll walk through an ideal system for you to set in place before you start working from home. If you already work from home, you may need an update in your current wiring system to improve your work productivity.

The essential wiring and functions for a home office include high-speed internet and networking. Structured wiring is an ideal package for a home office, as it provides fax, phone, broadband, networking and video/television technologies.

The system is comprised of 3 parts:

  • The first part is a panel that allows outside services to enter the home.
  • The second part is the wires and cables that run throughout the home.
  • The third component is the connecting hardware.

There is also an option to get a prepacked system. The downside with getting a prepacked system is that there’s a possibility a few of the outlets may be left unused. There’s also a possibility that you may need outlets in areas where there aren’t any, and so you’ll have to get outlets built in there which will require more work.

Before you take any action and start wiring, make a home office plan. Once you have a room selected, create a plan of where everything will be located in that room, and where you will spend time doing certain tasks. You’ll need a designated place for the computer, printer, phone, etc. Regardless of the home-office plan you choose, it’s important to not skimp when determining which cables and systems you want to choose for your home office.

There are a lot of cheap options and wires out there. It’s safe to go with name brand wires and pay more for the quality you’ll be receiving. The name brand wires will also last a longer time. You may be wondering what kind of cost you should be anticipating for a home office. Well, this depends on a few factors like how robust your system of choice is. If you are building new construction, you can expect the cost of a full wiring system to be 1-3% of your home’s value. If you are changing a room in your existing home into an office, the price will depend on the system you choose, and also how much navigation will be required to wire everything.

Although there are DIY steps to complete wiring for a home office, it’s always safe to call a professional. Dealing with anything electrical can be hazardous and pose a threat to your safety and the safety of your home. If you’re investing a significant amount to install a home office, you want to make sure it’s done the right way.

Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical to install the wiring for your home office! While we’re out there, we can perform a thorough scan of your home, looking for any hot spots in your electrical system. We will also test the ground fault outlets to make sure that they are functioning properly.

Give us a call today to schedule your appointment at 800-461-3010.

Have You Considered Outdoor Lighting for Safety?

In the short days of winter, people typically get off work when it’s already dark. This means that they return to their homes when it’s dark out, which could make it difficult to navigate your way to the front door without tripping. A dark home could also make it challenging to find the right key on your key chain to open the front door.

These scenarios can all be eliminated through the different security lighting options available. Not only can outdoor lighting provide guidance from a dark driveway to the front door, but it can also provide safety by alerting you when someone is outside. We’ll highlight the different options that you could consider for the outdoor security lighting for your home.

Solar Flood Lights

  • Motion-Activated Exterior Security Lights – The benefit of motion-activated exterior lights is that they will help you save on your electricity bills. They are unlike any other security lights in that they only turn on when they detect motion and activity. The ideal location for these security lights is by entry areas and backyards. Ideally, they’d be covered by outdoor elements so they aren’t directed exposed.
  • Solar Flood Lights – For those who are especially environmentally conscious, solar flood lights are a great option for outdoor lighting. They received their power supply through the heat from the sun, which it converts into solar energy. It then uses that energy to power the LED bulbs. They won’t contribute to energy bills, and they also don’t require wiring.
  • Fluorescent Exterior Security Lights – For a conventional form of exterior lighting, consider installing fluorescent exterior lighting. Although they require bulbs, wiring, a switch and bulb sockets, they also can be adjusted with a dimmer and a timer to determine how bright you’d like them and when you’d like them to turn on and off.
  • Halogen Exterior Flood Lights – One of the most common types of exterior lighting are the Halogen flood lights. They’re often found at commercial buildings, residential homes and industrial locations. They are a strong light that emits a bright light, and consumes the most energy out of all the options above.
  • HID Exterior Security Lighting – HID, which stands for High Intensity Discharge, emits a strong light that spans over a broad surface area. These are often used for larger residential areas or stadiums, so they most likely would not be the ideal form of security lighting to choose.

When using any form of electricity, it’s always important to make sure that your electrical panel is operating efficiently and safely. Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical can perform a thorough scan throughout your home, looking for any hot spots in your electrical system. We will also test the ground fault outlets to make sure that they are functioning properly. We will also install any form of outdoor security to protect your home from intruders and provide a source of guidance when walking to and from your home in the dark.

Give us a call today Call to schedule your appointment today at 800-461-3010.

How to stay Warm and Safe During Winter Months

Although the merriment and festivities make winter one of the most sentimental and exciting times of year, it also is the season for higher energy bills and higher safety risks.

We’ve highlighted the ways for you to keep your warmth and safety a priority while also enjoying the holidays:

  • Space heaters are great for heating smaller rooms so you can turn down your thermostat and save on energy. Be sure to keep doors shut to the rooms you don’t need to heat all the time.  Make sure that you don’t accidentally leave them on overnight or when you leave the home. It can easily become the cause of a house fire.
  • In addition to turning off heating devices, make sure that all your smoke detectors are installed and tested. Home fires are reported at the highest rates during winter months, so now is the time to test your smoke detector to ensure that it’s running properly.
  • Since we often spend more time indoors, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is also increased during these colder months. While installing your fire detector, now is a good time to also install and test a carbon monoxide detector.
  • Consider using a humidifier which can often help alleviate wintertime sickness. The dry air is an aggravating factor for the common cold or runny nose during the winter months. When using a humidifier, the air in your home will contain more moisture and help with these symptoms all throughout the day.

If you’re concerned about installing smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors in your home, don’t worry, Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical can help! We can also install a humidifier in your home to ensure optimal comfort during the winter months. You’ll be able to turn down your thermostat and save money this winter, and avoid some of the negative health effects that the dry air brings!

Give us a call today Call to schedule your appointment today at 800-461-3010.

How Much Do Christmas Lights Affect Your Energy Bill?

Some of the most notable parts of Christmas are gingerbread houses, eggnog, presents and Christmas caroling and decorating with lights around your home.  While they certainly add beauty and festivity to mantles, stairways, trees and roofs, they also come at a cost. Have you considered how much it adds to your electricity bill to hang Christmas lights for a couple months out of year?

Costs by type of bulb:

  • Traditional incandescent light bulbs cost significantly more to run during the Christmas season. A string of 25 lights will cost around $15 to run during the holiday. Multiply that by how many strings you would be using outside and inside, and this bill could easily rack up
  • A string of LED lights will cost around 24 cents to run over the course of Christmas. So the savings are definitely significant by switching to LED lights.
  • A string of flashing or twinkle LED lights will use almost twice as month energy as standard LED lights, however, this is still a low amount of energy compared to traditional incandescent light bulbs.

There are a few ways you can cut back on your electrical bill by being smart about what lights you use and how often you use them.

  • Consider getting a timer so that the lights automatically go off at a certain time, instead of staying on all night.
  • Although it’s easy to get overzealous about Christmas decorations, think about whether or not you need an abundant amount of lights or if you can avoid overdoing a display of excess lights.
  • If your heart is set on flashing or twinkling lights, then by all means include them in your display! If you are indifferent to them, then opt for the solid Christmas lights.

Using LED lights is not the only way to efficiently save on your energy bill. Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical can do a load balancing service to make sure that your electrical load is properly disbursed. We’ll check your breaker panel to make sure that there is not too much load on one side because it can cause your power bills to be unnecessarily high. It can also cause excessive heat. We will test your breaker panel to see where you stand to make sure your home is safe and sound.

Give us a call today – to schedule your appointment at 800-461-3010.