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  • Recognize outdated wiring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!

How to Pick a Ceiling Fan

In a previous post, we talked about using ceiling fans to circulate cool air in the summer. Fans are multi-functional and offer lots of benefits, so be sure and pick a ceiling fan with the features you need. You’ll enjoy energy savings, cooler spaces, and extra light (if you choose one with a light fixture).  They make your home more comfortable to the point that your thermostat can be adjusted 4-7 degrees lower!

How to pick a ceiling fan

Pick a ceiling fan that will provide aesthetic and practical benefits!

Here are some points to keep in mind as you pick a ceiling fan to meet your needs:

  • When it comes to the size of the fan, it’s best to choose the size that best matches with the square footage of the room.  Rooms that are less than 144 square feet should have a 42-inch fan. Rooms up to 225 square feet should have a 44-inch fan. If you are picking a fan for a room that’s up to 400 square feet, go with a 52-inch fan.
  • It’s important to choose the right blade size that doesn’t disrupt the purpose of the room that the fan is in. If you want to install a fan in your office, for instance, choose a fan with larger blades so the papers don’t get ruffled. They create a lower velocity and still keep the room cool. The number of blades will not make a difference in cooling the room.
  • Each fan should be carefully installed and follow basic guidelines. They should hang down 10-12 inches from the ceiling and 7-9 feet above the floor. Ceiling fans should always be 18-24 inches away from any walls.
  • Fans now come with many options and features.  If you want to use your fan on a frequent basis and save on your energy bills, then consider a fan that is easy to operate. Fans come with remote controls, noise level control, fan speed control, and the ability to dim or brighten the light.

Whether you have a fan that needs updating or want to install a new fan, it’s always best to have a professional take care of it.  Having a professional install your new fan will ensure that you get the manufacturer’s warranty and ensure the safety of your family. The mounting process is specific and includes precise mounting to a ceiling joist. Sometimes a mounting bracket is used instead of a ceiling joist, but both require proper alignment.

Call Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electrical at 1-800-461-3010 to install your ceiling fans.

Outdoor Project Safety

 

When you’re working on your spring outdoors projects, take precautions. Every year people end up in the hospital for simple mistakes that could have easily been avoided. In fact, most injuries happen on your own property. Here are some simple tips to help you be safe.

  1. When using electrical appliances, stay on dry ground. Keep all of your equipment away from pools, sprinklers, hoses, wet ground, or any standing water. You can also use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) to help protect against electrocution.
  2. As soon as you hear thunder, that means lighting is not far off, even if it is not storming at the moment! It is best to head inside. Don’t risk your life by trying to stay out for a few more minutes to finish your project.
  3. Make sure your extension cords are in good condition, and are rated for outdoor use. Also check that they are the proper gauge for the electrical current capacity of the item you’re using.
  4. When using lawn tools, protect yourself from debris by wearing close-fitting clothing, eye protection and sturdy shoes. Also, remove objects such as sticks and stones that would be in your way.
  5. Do not fill tanks with gasoline while machinery is on or still hot. Do not smoke around gasoline.
  6. Before climbing trees, look for power lines overhead. This is especially important when using an aluminum ladder, which is an excellent conductor of electricity.
  7. Before installing a fence or planting trees, call 811. This free service will tell you where buried utility lines are located. This is crucial so you don’t knock out lines to your house or your neighbor’s house.
  8. It is spring allergy season! Wear a dust mask if you suffer from allergies. This will help filter out mold spores, pollen and other potential allergens.

Have a concern with your electrical, plumbing or air conditioning? Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical is here to help! We offer 24-hour emergency service 7 days a week!  Give us a call! 1-800-461-3010 to speak with our customer service agents that can answer your questions or schedule an appointment!

 

Holiday Lights and Electrical Safety

christmas wishes

Many of us are already taking out those boxes of holiday decorations or starting to shop for new décor. With all of the lights, though, come safety concerns. How can you make sure you’re lighting up your home without risking fires or electrical injuries?

  • Before getting started, plan your displays. Look for outlets and figure out what you can reasonably do before you go into a decorating frenzy.
  • When shopping, make sure the product has a label showing that it has gone through independent testing by a recognized lab, such as UL or ETL.
  • LED lights are more energy efficient, last longer and are more durable than incandescent lights.
  • Don’t use items intended for outdoors inside, or vice versa.
  • Make sure you’ll be notified of any recalls by sending in the product registration forms.
  • Inspect older decorations for any loose or damaged wires or connections.
  • Unplug before replacing bulbs or fuses.
  • Make sure cords are not pinched in windows, doors, etc.
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets with too many items at once.
  • Do not connect an extension cord to another extension cord or place them in high traffic areas or under furniture, carpets or rugs. Do not run them through walls or ceilings.
  • Do not connect more than three strands of incandescent lights together.
  • Outdoor lights should be plugged in to circuits that are protected by ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).  (You can buy portable GFCIs.)
  • Protect lights from the wind by fastening them to firm surfaces but make sure this is not done in a way that could damage the cord’s insulation.
  • Turn off all holiday lighting before going to bed each night.

Have a concern with your electrical, plumbing or air conditioning? Central Carolina Air Conditioning, Plumbing and Electrical is here to help! We offer 24 hour emergency service 7 days a week!  Give us a call! 1-800-461-3010 to speak with our customer service agents that can answer your questions or schedule an appointment!